The GSR is the two-way link between the group conscience and AA as a whole. The non-existent or inactive GSR deactivates the check-and-balance system for group self-honesty. Experience seems to indicate that the good intentions of the group were often the enemy of what was the best for the fellowship as expressed in the Traditions and the Concepts. The active GSR insures the liaison between the group and the worldwide fellowship, starting with group discussions that share the group’s experience of “carrying the message” at the District and Area levels.
GSRs are, in a sense, the service sponsors of their groups. They are as kind, nonjudgmental and willing to share as they would be with a newcomer. Group sponsorship is the best example of the relationship of the GSR to the group in matters of service and unity. Because the GSR enjoys the trust of the group, they learn to listen and listen to learn. Their role is often reversed. They return to the group with the results of problems and solutions that could affect the unity, health and growth of AA. How well GSRs do their job can be measured by the way they listen to the group conscience and keep their group informed.
Active sponsorship experience is one of the most powerful experiences a GSR can bring to service responsibility. It indicates the ability to reach out and carry the message by working with others as suggested in chapter seven of the Big Book. The GSR needs to develop courage, emotional maturity, and a thick skin to carry the message of service. Experience and AA history provide this confidence.
A sense of humor about ourselves is most important to our service commitment and sobriety. We take the program and our sobriety seriously; we do not take our personal hurts or the rejection of our opinions too seriously. As Dr. Bob said, â€œLet us also remember to guard that erring member the tongue, and if we must use it, let’s use it with kindness and consideration and tolerance.
Area 29 Area Assembly Handbook, January 2015, P. 14
- Experience shows that the most effective G.S.R.s have been active in group, intergroup, or other service, where they have developed a desire to serve, and encountered situations in which the Twelve Traditions have been called upon to solve problems.
- Usually, prospective G.S.R.s have at least two years of continuous sobriety.
- They have time available for district meetings and area assemblies.
- They have the confidence of the group, and an ability to listen to all points of view.
- G.S.R.s attend district meetings.
- They also attend area assemblies.
- G.S.R.s serve as the mail contact with the General Service Office, and they are listed in the A.A. directories as contacts for their groups. They receive the G.S.O. bulletin Box 4-5-9, and keep their groups abreast of A.A. activities all over the world.
- They serve as mail contact with their district committee member and with the area committee.
- G.S.R.s supply their D.C.M.s with up-to-date group information, which is relayed to G.S.O. for inclusion in the directories and for G.S.O. mailings.
- They are knowledgeable about material available from G.S.O.—new literature, guidelines, bulletins, videos, tapes, kits, etc.,—and they are responsible for passing such information on to the groups.
- They learn everything they can about the Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts and are familiar with this manual, the books Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and A.A. Comes of Age, Twelve Concepts for World Service, and the pamphlets “The A.A. Group:’ “A.A. Tradition — How It Developed:’ “The Twelve Traditions Illustrated,” and “The Twelve Concepts Illustrated.”
- They usually serve on group steering committees.
- They work with group treasurers to develop practical plans for group support of G.S.O., such as the Regular Contribution Plan and the Birthday Plan. They encourage the group to support the area and district committees and local central offices or intergroups, and they are familiar with the leaflet “Self-Support: Where Money and Spirituality Mix.”
- They participate in district and area service meetings, and often help with planning for area get-togethers and convetions. Following these events, they make reports to their groups for the benefit of those who could not attend. Reprinted from the A.A. Service Manual, 2007-2008 Edition, P. S25-S26 with permission from A.A. World Services, Inc.
It is important for the group to send information to each of the following entries: G.S.O., and the district, the area and to the local intergroup/central office. While local, area and national offices communicate regularly, they have different purposes and different mailing lists.
Two simplified forms (see following pages) have been developed to facilitate transmittal of information to G.S.O.: 1) Alcoholics Anonymous New Group Form is for one-time use only, when a new group is started; 2) the Group Information Change Form is to be filled in whenever a group changes its name or meeting address, elects a new G.S.R., reports a change of address andior phone number, reports the designation of a new second contact, or reports a change of address or phone number for the second contact.
To assure direct and regular communication between the group and G.S.O., each group is assigned a service number. It is helpful to refer to this number when writing to G.S.O. and when sending contributions.
If a group wishes to be listed in the appropriate U.S. or Canadian AS. directory this can be indicated in filling out the New Group Information Form.
Reprinted from the A.A. Service Manual, 2014-2015 Edition, P. S26 with permission from A.A. World Services, Inc.