GENERAL SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE BOOTCAMP
Workshop for new incoming GSR’s-1/18/21
Guardians of the Traditions and Messengers of the Message
Welcome to the Rockland County General Service board workshop on being a GSR.
This is a short multipart series on the role and function of the GSR in the AA structure.
QUICK OVERVIEW OF GSR RESPONSIBILITIES
A very brief overview of what a GSR is and does comes from the Pamphlet “The AA Group…Where it all Begins”
General service representative (G.S.R.): Working via the district and area committees, the G.S.R. is the group’s link with the General Service Conference, through which U.S. and Canadian groups share their experience and voice A.A.’s collective conscience. Sometimes called “the guardians of the Traditions,” G.S.R.s become familiar with A.A.’s Third Legacy — our spiritual responsibility to give service freely. Usually elected to serve two-year terms, they:
- Represent the group at district meetings and area assemblies.
- Keep group members informed about general service activities in their local areas.
- Receive and share with their groups all mail from the General Service Office, including the newsletter Box 4-5-9, which is G.S.O.’s primary tool for communicating with the Fellowship.
G.S.R.s also may assist their groups in solving a variety of problems, especially those related to the Traditions. In serving their groups, they can draw on all the services offered by G.S.O. (see page 33). In this case page 33 refers to the pamphlet page.
Chapter Two pages S25 thru S31. I like to call it Bill W.’s- “Little Pink Book.” If a page is cited as S#, it means that you are referred to the AA Service Manual. All pages in this book begin with the letter S. This is a fundamental resource for anyone wishing to be a GSR, or any other service position in the service structure. Your familiarity with it is an important step to understanding so much of the information that you will need to be effective at your role as the group’s GSR.
The Service Structure of AA can be visualized as an Upside-Down Triangle or Pyramid. The groups are on the top and the layers of structure proceed down to a point, where you will find the AAWS & Grapevine/ La Vina Boards. When you get your service, manual check out the diagram on page S16. The shape is deliberate with the groups at the top because the groups are AA and their conscience is what you will bring to the conference by your participation. This in turn is what makes up the group conscience of the whole structure of AA. More on the conference structure can be found in the Service Manual (see Chapter One-page S15) (Conference Structure Slide)
GSR FUNCTION: SERVICE AND SERVING
I would like to bring your attention to a very concise article in this past October’s LINK. The Link is our Area newsletter. It was written at the time by our Alternate Delegate, Tom B., who now is the new Delegate for our Area. We are Area 49-District 1000 in the AA structure. (Tom Slide)
AN ASPECT OF SERVICE-SERVING
Hello, Friends. No, the title is not a typo. I suppose it’s a variation of what I heard early on, that “you’re either in AA or you’re around AA.” Those who are in AA and serve our fellowship tend to be the ones who stay sober, at least from what I’ve seen; and while this article is for all of us, it’s particularly written for the GSRs, and for those who will step up as GSRs in the next rotation.
2020 has been a challenging and sometimes brutal year. For AA members it has been a time of upheaval, sudden and enforced change, new frontiers, sickness, and sometimes death. Doors have been closed and opened – a perfect example are virtual meetings, which for some are a source of annoyance (or worse), but for others are an incredible blessing. Money issues for individuals, groups and all other aspects of AA are pressing. The list goes on.
There is a Solution; and it starts with all those who serve.
For the past few months, I’ve referred you to Concept IX, the “Leadership Concept”, and its four touchstones: Tolerance, Responsibility, Flexibility and Vision. Perhaps at this time, as trusted servants we can get behind another principle of leadership, one that is necessary (and critical) in times of crisis, loss and even disunity, and one that all of us need to give AND receive. That principle is healing.
For those of you who will stand as your group’s next GSR, remember: you will carry your group’s voice and its heartbeat to the service structure. You will be the messenger of AA’s information and evolution back to your group. You will be the guardian of its Traditions. Additionally, you will be a leader in your group as it moves in whatever direction it chooses to go. Because you will be serving, and a healing influence.
When the load gets heavy go to Bill W.’s final sentence in Concept IX: “We thank God that Alcoholics Anonymous is blessed with so much leadership in all of its affairs.” Because in AA, leadership is serving.
In Love and Service,
Tom B., Alternate Delegate Area 49-SENY, Panel 69
IMPORTANT BOOKMARKS (LINKS)
I am sure that you all know how important Bookmarks are in taking you quickly to Areas of interest and in helping you search for data.
There are several handy ones that you should bookmark on your computer right off the bat because they will be invaluable to your growth and your ability to do an effective job as GSR.
One of the more important links for you to have bookmarked is the URL for SENY-Area 49. Having it bookmark will make easy access to a great wealth of information for both the area and often on the Delegate’s page information about AAWS. Here is the link, https://www.aaseny.org
When you click on this link you will see three stacked lines to the upper right of the home page, these are sometimes called “the Hamburger” and clicking on them will give access to the drop-down menu, where you are just clicks away from a wealth of information. Here you will find the SENY Events Calendar. A source of great information as to the events happening in the Area that you might want to bring to your group.
Another important link to bookmark for easy retrieval is the GSR link at the SENY website: https://www.aaseny.org/gsr this will come in very handy when looking for the things that you need to know. At this link you will have access to the virtual GSR Kit which has a great deal of information that is helpful. Another way to access a virtual GSR Kit is by going to the Rockland County Intergroup/ General Services website, https://rocklandnyaa.org scroll to the bottom and under the General Service heading click on General Service Representative. You will be taken to the page that has a general description of the role and function of the GSR and the link to the virtual GSR Kit.
One of the first things you’ll need to do is register as your group’s representative with the Area, as this will clear up the files and make sure that all mail is now directed to you as the group’s GSR. That is easily accomplished by going to the SENY website. It is found on the Homepage by scrolling down to the Incoming Trusted Servants button. When you click on it you will be taken to the necessary form and thru a series of simple replies you’ll be registered. When they ask for the District number enter 1000, that is our District number. The Area in turn will make sure that the GSO in New York gets your information, as well. The GSO will eventually send you an actual GSR Kit with all the hard copy material, however , in the meantime your best access is through any one of the virtual links and you can print out the items you need.
By this simple act you will be practicing Concept 4- “Right of Participation”
At this I would like to point out that although we maintain Anonymity at the level of Press, Radio, Television, Film and now Media (Tradition Eleven), we are not anonymous to each other and for legal reasons we are not anonymous moving below the group level on internal documents. That said, all documents where your full name would be mentioned are scrubbed for anonymity when they are/or will be released to the public as your first name, last initial.
The only names you see spelled out in full in press releases and such are the Class A Trustees of the General Service Board. They are also the only people from AA in the Media whose full face will be seen.
These individuals are the non-Alcoholic Trustees. They have been solicited for the board for and by their credentials, i.e.; Doctors, Nurses, Lawyers, etc. and the desire to help AA be a better organization. The other class of Trustees on the General Service Board are the Class B or “The Boozers”, they are the recovering Alcoholics that come from the ranks. You will never see their full name or Face in the Media (Tradition Eleven)
36 PRINCIPALS OF AA:
An important aspect of the AA program is that it has 36 principles. They can be broken out as:
12 Steps= Recovery, 12 Traditions= Unity, 12 Concepts= Service.
Together these three sets of principles make up the three legacies of AA. They are visually expressed by the AA logo, a triangle inside a continuous circle, with the words UNITY, RECOVERY and SERVICE represented on each leg of the triangle, thus giving each equal importance.
The Steps are for our personal recovery, the Traditions are sometimes referred to as steps for the groups and the Concepts are the Service leg- the steps for the Conference as a whole.
The material in the GSR Kit seems daunting at first but as you start to use it you find that it will bring a new clarity to your thinking and you will start to put the Traditions and Concepts solidly into your life. You will then have a better understanding of the 36 Principles of AA.
The next link I would bookmark would be AAWS. Here is that link: https://www.aa.org .
This, is of course the link to the GSO, or the General Service Office. Here you will find things like pamphlets, literature PDFs and a tremendous amount of information that needs to funneled back to your groups. There is currently a red banner across the top of the home page that is where the notices of importance are placed. (Home Page, left)
You should at your earliest convenience read thru the first four chapters of the Service manual. This will give you an overall picture of what you do and what to expect at Assemblies. We have our first Area Assembly on this Saturday January 23rd-9am to 3:30 PM. Studying these chapters will set you in good stead for your first Assembly. The whole thing is a learning curve and just as in the Big Book, more will be revealed as the process unfolds.
I would like say something very brief about the Assembly procedure. It follows a pretty standard agenda and the Assembly itself is governed by a modified version of Robert’s Rules of Order. (More About that in Part Two.)
Congratulations on your recent election as a GSR, sometimes referred “to as the job no one wants”. You have been blessed with a position of leadership and with it comes responsibilities. That is what we will be working on together as we go thru this process of what a GSR does.
This has been but a very brief introduction to the information you need to do an effective job. As you access this information, and use it, your skill and understanding of AA will grow and with that hopefully your sobriety. I have often heard it said that Service below the group level has tremendous odds of you keeping your Sobriety and I don’t know about you but any odds that increase my odds of staying sober are the ones that I will go with.
I have 2 AA emails that you can reach me at if you have questions at any time about what you doing:
1) GSR.SUNRISENYACK@GMAIL.COM AND RCGSSECRETARY@AAROCKLAND.ORG – if I don’t answer
leave a message and I promise I will get back to you. You will also be getting a hard copy of this workshop in your emails after you have registered.
At this point I would like to ask for any questions you may have., on what we have covered so far.
For a PDF of Part One – CLICK HERE