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- - -
From: John Lee

(johnlawlee at yahoo.com)


Each group is autonomous, and can adopt any

meeting format it chooses. Since this is a history site,

rather than a general AA discussion site, I think you

might find it useful to go through the archives of this

site and its predecessor site for postings on "preamble."

My home group doesn't recite the Preamble, How It Works,

the Traditions or the Steps. To save time and allow for

more discussion, we just read a few paragraphs of the

Big Book and let members jump in and discuss [in any

order] the paragraphs read. It's a discussion meeting

that actually has discussion.

John Lee


Where the Allegheny meets the Monongahela to form the Ohio
- - -
From: "Mark Everett"

(mark at go-concepts.com)

Our Traditions allow each group to be autonomous,

except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a

whole. Reading or not reading anything at a meeting

is a group choice. As I have traveled around this

country and gone to many meetings in many places, I

have noticed that some groups read How it Works and

some don't. Most groups read the Preamble, but some

don't and some read other versions.

The most commonly accepted version has been published

every month on the inside cover of the Grapevine for

many decades. It is copyrighted and I think that

it deserves some protection. There are earlier

versions of the Preamble from the Grapevine - including

the wording "..the only requirement for membership is

an HONEST desire to stop drinking." We dropped HONEST

a long time ago. I have heard local variations, and

each group can do what it wants. If you don't approve

and can't change the group conscience, get a coffee

pot and start another group.
Mark Everett
- - -
From: tracy flynn

(flynn22896 at sbcglobal.net)

Hi Damon,
There is no 'requirement' for any group to read,

do, say anything. The only thing that is suggested is

an adherence to the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics

Anonymous. The Preamble is copyrighted by the Grapevine

therefore legally you could not change the words and

still call it the Preamble.

In short, reading of the Preamble is not required,

but if you do, you would have to read it as is since

it is copyrighted.
Hope that helps.

Tracy F

- - -
From: Glenn C.

(glennccc at sbcglobal.net)

Since the present Preface is made up mostly of bits

and pieces drawn from earlier sources, many of them

in the public domain, I'm not at all sure it would

be a copyright violation for a local group to make

modifications in it, particularly as long is it is

for their own group only. Most of the Preface is

not original material, and you can't put a copyright

ex post facto on something somebody else wrote.

Otherwise, I could put a copyright on Shakespeare's

Hamlet and start collecting royalties from everyone

who prints or performs it.
See Message 3713 on the "four fair use factors"

for some of the copyright issues involved.

All that being said, I have noticed that we alcoholics

have a tendency to believe that we can alter the AA

program in various ways because "we are so much more

intelligent" than the good oldtimers, and we usually

make a mess of things when we do this. There were

good reasons for choosing every single word in the

present Preface (based on experience) instead of some

other word, if you look at the history of how it

But the most basic right in the entire AA program,

which is repeated in letter after letter from Bill W.,

is "the right of the group to be wrong" (grin).
And there is no rule that an AA group has to read the

Preface at an AA meeting. An AA group can read

anything at all that it wants to at an AA meeting,

written by anybody at all, just like we have always

done, going back to the 1930's, 40's, and 50's.

That is an essential part of AA's Historic Heritage.

- - -
From: Mike S

(lists at immuneit.com)

If you look through the Twelve Traditions, you'll

see no mention of the preamble.

Read over traditions 2 and 4. Groups can largely run

themselves as they see fit, and remember that AAWS is

their trusted servant, not their boss.
Often, groups get caught up in distractions like

arguing over wording or whether to have an anniversary

party, etc. Some would say its a sign of a healthy

group. Don't let something like this be a wedge, but

don't let those with seniority run amok either.
- - -
From: "Debi Ubernosky"

(dkuber1990 at verizon.net)

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters

affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

Read the long version in the 12x12 for more insight!
debi the service junkie

sober in Aggieland

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3838. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Group conscience meetings

From: Debi Ubernosky . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/2/2006 3:05:00 PM

There is a pamphlet available from AAWS called The

AA Group which is available free for download at


This pamphlet covers everything a group ever needs to

know about how to be a group and conduct its business.
In fact, there is a wealth of service information

available for download under the "Services for Members"

http://www.aa.org/en_services_for_members.cfm and from

"Service Material"


on that page.

All of this information is very helpful in understanding

Alcoholics Anonymous.

Happy Reading!
debi the service junkie

sober in Aggieland

++++Message 3839. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Group conscience meetings

From: Doug Hart . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/2/2006 6:33:00 PM

Group conscience and business meetings are well

covered by the AA brochure, The AA Group, which is

now online. These topics start on p. 27 at the

link below.

Doug Hart
++++Message 3840. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Group conscience meetings

From: Art Sheehan . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/2/2006 11:44:00 PM

Hi Ernie
There are 2 pieces of AA literature that can be helpful for guidelines on

group conscience/business meetings and the role of the chairperson or

moderator in those meetings:
(1) "The AA Group" pamphlet (I'll cite from the 10/05

version). It contains

guidelines for an informed group conscience, AA business meetings, voting in

the home group and resolving group problems. These topics are all in the

index at the beginning of the pamphlet.
(2) "The AA Service Manual" (I'll cite from the 8/05

version). It contains

guidelines for a "sharing session." The group

conscience/business meeting

should be conducted as a sharing session.
Both of the above pieces of literature can be downloaded from the AA.org web

site as searchable PDF files. Information below can be found by doing key

word string searches with the current free Adobe Reader that can be

downloaded from Adobe.com.

It's useful to encourage an understanding and appreciation of what


group conscience" means as opposed to just "group

conscience." It's also

useful to encourage an understanding of what "substantial

unanimity" means

as opposed to "simple majority."
Most groups have what is called a "group conscience" or

"business meeting"

where group matters are discussed and acted upon and where group service

positions are elected. It's also a meeting where group members can


reports from group service positions and where members can express their

concerns and receive information from other group members.
The first part of Tradition 2 states that a group's ultimate authority

is a

loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. The idea

sounds great - but it doesn't happen automatically - it takes the

cooperation of the members involved in the group conscience discussions to

ensure that God gets the opportunity to express Himself rather than one or

more members manipulating the meeting to their own ends and agenda and then

claiming that God made the decision.

"The AA Group" pamphlet adds an important word to the term


conscience" and suggests that the goal should be to seek an

"informed group

conscience." It also asks the question "What is an Informed AA


Conscience?" and answers it by stating:
"The group conscience is the collective conscience of the group


and thus represents substantial unanimity on an issue before definitive

action is taken. This is achieved by the group members through the sharing

of full information, individual points of view and the practice of AA

principles. To be fully informed requires a willingness to listen to

minority opinions with an open mind.
The pamphlet goes on to state "On sensitive issues, the group works

slowly -

discouraging formal motions until a clear sense of its collective view

emerges. Placing principles before personalities, the membership is wary of

dominant opinions. Its voice is heard when a well-informed group arrives at

a decision. The result rests on more than a "yes" or

"no" count - precisely

because it is the spiritual expression of the group conscience. The term

"informed group conscience" implies that pertinent information has


studied and all views have been heard before the group votes."
This is not a play on words - it's really an appeal to AA members who


participating in the formation of group conscience to do so in a way that

ensures that the final decision is "informed" and reflects

With AA membership comes the right to vote on issues that affect the group.

It's a process that forms the very cornerstone of AA's service

structure. In

the 12 Concepts for World Service it's called "the right of


and appears in Concept 4.

In Concept 5, it further states "Throughout our world service

structure, a

traditional "Right of Appeal" ought to prevail, thus assuring us


minority opinion will be heard and that petitions for the redress of

personal grievances will be carefully considered.

As with all group-conscience matters, each AA member has 1 vote; and this,

ideally, is voiced through the home group. It's as simple as the idea


the residents of NY City elect the mayor of NY City and the residents of

Chicago do not elect the mayor of NY City. Each elects their own mayors and

resolves their own matters locally. A vote should be available to members

who, by their attendance, (of perhaps at least one month) have established

the group as their home group. Otherwise someone can stack a group

conscience meeting with recruited votes of AA members having a different

home group (regrettably it does happen - "we are not saints").

The bottom line is that a group conscience decision should reflect 2

important qualities: 1st, that it is informed, 2nd, that it reflects

"substantial unanimity." Some helpful ways to achieve this are:
1. Formal motions should not be presented to the group conscience or

business meeting until a matter is first fully discussed. Don't rush

into a

decision or ramrod it through. By the same token filibustering should not be

permitted either. Each participant in the discussions should have a fixed,

and reasonably brief, amount of time to speak and then let someone else have

the opportunity to speak.
2. Discussions should be free of legalistic arguments, debates and personal

accusations (everything benefits from restraint of pen and tongue). It also

helps to ask the participants to not keep saying the same things over and

over. It's ok to just say that I agree with what so and so said.

3. Minority or dissenting views should receive due respect and courtesy.
4. When a formal motion is presented it should, if possible, be worded in a

manner that tries to unite or bring together the collective views expressed

by the members participating in the discussions.
Admittedly, compromise isn't always easy especially when someone is


passionate about a particular matter. However, a willingness to cooperate in

both give and take and a respect for the views of others will always move

the discussions in the right direction and move the decisions toward unity

and fellowship. One of the considerations that should be apparent for

arriving at an informed group conscience is that the way something is

discussed can be just as important as what is being discussed.

The AA Service Manual contains information for conducting something called a

"sharing session." There are many things in AA that can be

conducted as a

sharing session, whether it's a committee meeting, a group inventory


very importantly a group conscience or business meeting. In a sharing

session, everyone has a chance to use their experience, strength and hope to

contribute ideas and opinions about the matter being discussed. The format

of a sharing session is aimed at drawing out the ideas of even the shyest

participant, and keeps anyone from dominating the meeting. Each person

offers an opinion, and never needs to defend it. It also helps to avoid

debates and arguments.

It's important that the chairperson, or moderator, of a sharing


functions as a timekeeper or facilitator and not as an active participant in

the discussions. A meeting chair's primary duties are to try to keep


meeting moving along and encouraging the involvement of the meeting

participants. Sometimes it's useful to ask the District Committee


(DCM) or other member of the Area Committee to serve as a neutral and

non-participating chairperson, particularly if a matter is of significant

importance or has the potential to be volatile or divisive.
To keep a meeting moving along, each member participating may talk, in turn,

for a specified time (2 minutes is typical - or whatever the group agrees

upon). Usually no one is permitted to speak a second time on the same

subject until all who wish to have had an opportunity to speak for the first

time. When multiple rounds of discussion occur it is often useful to limit

those rounds to 1 minute of discussion per member.

Discussions should go around among the attendees one at a time in the same

order for each round. Members who do not wish to speak can just pass but

should be offered the opportunity to speak during their turn. No one should

be allowed to just jump in and start talking or debating. In particular, the

chairperson or moderator should not engage in the discussions. If he/she

wishes to join the discussions then someone else should chair or moderate

the meeting. It's very important to avoid a situation where a member


and then the chair speaks a member speaks and then the chair speaks again,

etc., etc. It's a formula for failure where the chair is doing little


than holding court. That's why it's important that the chair not

be an

active participant in discussions.

To achieve what is called "substantial unanimity" some matters


very important or sensitive matters) should be resolved by more than just a

simple majority vote or they can turn out to be very divisive. In many cases

a simple majority vote does little more than divide the group into 2

opposing factions and that is not healthy to group unity.

Typically in Area and District service committees and in the General Service

Conference, matters under discussion usually require a 2/3 majority for

adoption (and in some rare but very important cases a 3/4 majority). This is

not done to make things more difficult to do. It's done to ensure that


decision has the backing of most of the participants and reflects

substantial unanimity. It also helps individual members to learn how to


If a loving God expressing Himself in the group conscience is our ultimate

authority, it follows that AA leaders are not authorities in the usual

sense, but are rather servants and instruments of the group conscience. Then

who is in charge in AA? AA is a spiritual movement and the ultimate

authority in AA is the spiritual concept of the informed group conscience.

Almost every group and Fellowship problem can be solved through the process

of an informed group conscience and a respect for AA principles. For all

involved, a good sense of humor, cooling off periods, patience, courtesy,

willingness to listen and to wait - plus a sense of fairness and trust in a

"Power greater than ourselves" - have been found to be far more


than legalistic arguments or personal accusations or "frothy emotional


-----Original Message-----

From: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

[mailto:AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Ernest Kurtz

Sent: Thursday, November 02, 2006 9:23 AM

To: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

Subject: [AAHistoryLovers] Group conscience meetings
A question has been posed in a different setting:

"Do you have any guidelines, electronically available,

on the subject of group conscience and group business

meetings?. In particular the role of the Chairperson?"

I trust some AAHL members will be interested in

the topic; responses may also be posted directly to


(jre33756 at bigpond.net.au)

Kell C,

(kellcheevers at hotmail.com)

or Denise H Brisbane Traditions.

(jha at powerup.com.au)

Thanks for this group's help.
ernie kurtz

(kurtzern at umich.edu)

Yahoo! Groups Links
++++Message 3841. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Re: Who were Jim and Eddie the


From: timderan . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/2/2006 8:40:00 PM
"So to the person who originally posted the question:
"Eddie the atheist" "
There is also a reference to "Eddie the Maniac" in Pass It On.
Could this be who the person was thinking of?
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3842. . . . . . . . . . . . Box 4-5-9: searchable computer files

are available

From: Art Sheehan . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/2/2006 11:52:00 PM
Hey Fellows
Past issues of Box 4-5-9 going back to Oct/Nov 2001

are available on the AA.org web site as searchable

PDF files that can be downloaded.
Go to aa.og

Click on Services for Members

Click on Box 4-5-9 News and Notes from GSO

A link to the current issue is listed

Click on the drop-down list to access past issue


++++Message 3844. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Who were Jim and Eddie the


From: Glenn Chesnut . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/8/2006 3:26:00 PM
Correction to the page number:

In Kurz, "Not God," note 22 on PAGE 375,

(NOT page 275 as was given in Message #3833):

"Ed" in the 12 and 12 was probably Jim Burwell.

From Tom E.

(tom2cor134 at yahoo.com)

Ernest Kurtz, author of "Not God," in note 22 on

page 375, said that the man who was given the

pseudonym of "Ed" in the story in the 12 and 12,

Tradition Three, pp. 143-145 (in the current edition)

was probably Jim Burwell.
So to the person who originally posted the question:
"Eddie the atheist" may simply have been the same

person as "Jim the atheist," if the person who told

you about "Ed the atheist" was thinking about the

story in the 12 and 12.

Jim had a profound impact on the writing of the

Big Book in terms of how God was presented.

"The Vicious Cycle" is his story in the Big Book.
- - - -

has Nancy Olson's short biographies of

Jim Burwell -- "The Vicious Cycle"

Henry (Hank) Parkhurst -- "The Unbeliever"

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3845. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Who were Jim and Eddie the


From: man_dred . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/6/2006 1:47:00 PM
There was another atheist named Eddie R. who Dr. Bob

and Bill worked with throughout the summer of 1935.

(Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, pp.77 -79)
He was not well known and there was not much

written about this Eddie. He was from Cleveland/Akron

area. They gave up on him and had their first success

with Bill Dotson.

Eddie reportedly showed up at Dr. Bob's funeral with

approx. 1 year of sobriety according to Bob Smith Jr.

Bill heard from Eddie again about seven years later.

Although this particular Eddie was an atheist, and

it's possible this is the one you mentioned... Jim

Burwell was the notorious atheist in the 3rd Tradition

chapter of the 12x12, who was referred to as "Ed."

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