"YOU CAN RECOVER" GROUP CONSCIENCE
"You Can Recover" Group Conscience
The Chairperson: Qualifications, Responsibilities, and Attitudes.
1. Is sober, has done the steps as laid out in the Big Book, and can demonstrate that by their own words and example.
2. Is willing to conduct the meeting according to the format. Is the "point man" of the BB group; is obligated to uphold the group conscience from the chair; and is willing to explain the group's function and goals to newcomers and visitors before, during, and after the meeting. Must be willing to interrupt an individual who is off the step and remind them of the purpose of the meeting. Keeps the time, and lets people know when their time is up. The most important-as well as difficult-trusted servant position in the group. The chairman leads for a month or a full cycle at a time, and chooses the speaker for each meeting/step.
3. Believes that "God's will" is for drunks to get help through the 12 steps as laid out in the BB. Has a greater desire to tell the "Truth" than to be popular within the AA community at large. Believes he or she is an employee/agent of God.
4. May speak at the end of the meeting if time allows. In addition, the chairperson may call on the guest speaker for any closing remarks.
1. Chairperson's Instructions.
As the basic format for the group meeting, the instructions consist of several parts: the AA Preamble, the Group Preamble, and the Step Rotation.
2. Group Preamble / Group Conscience Statement.
This is what makes this BB meeting what it is. It defines our group conscience, our mission, and the way we carry our message to the alcoholic who still suffers. It lays out the ground rules of the meeting. It makes clear that sharing at this BB meeting depends upon whether a person has direct experience with the 12 steps as they are laid out in the basic text (or can stay on the subject of the reading and step).
3. The Readings for the 12 Steps in the Big Book.
Also known as the cycle, or step rotation, this is a 15-week rotation of readings. The chairperson announces the step, and pages in the Big Book that will be used as a topic for the meeting that night. The chairperson starts the reading by asking people to read, a paragraph at a time, going around the tables or the room. The readers do not identify themselves at this point in the meeting.
4. The Speaker.
A meeting speaker is a person who is qualified to share by having experienced the 12 steps as they are laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous with the help of another person who has done it this way by the Big Book Step Study method. They have done the 3rd step with their sponsor, or another person. They have done the 4th step exactly as the Big Book lays it out, are easily able to describe all three parts, and are willing to read examples from their own inventory. They have done steps 6 and 7 approximately an hour after they finished their 5th step. They have made some significant 9th step amends, and are practicing steps 10, 11, and 12 on a daily basis. They usually have chaired BBSS meetings, and are sponsoring people through the 12 steps. They, at times, give a very brief history of their drinking, recapping their AA experience up until BBSS, then focusing specifically on the text and their experience with the directions for the step being studied. The entire talk generally lasts around 20 minutes.
The Meeting Itself.
An hour and a half with no break. Start time is 7:30. It's divided into three basic parts: the reading, the speaker, and discussion of the step being studied.
1. Who Can Share.
Preferably only people who have completed their 5th step and are on 9-12 may share during the meeting (though this meeting is open for all to share as long as they stay on point). Most people who have been through the process qualify by introducing themselves, and saying that they have done the 12 steps as they are laid out in the Big Book with a BBSS sponsor, and have done the steps this way, or something to that effect. This differentiates them from those AA's who are not familiar with the BBSS process. Each person shares their experience with the step for up to 5 minutes. The chair keeps track of time and will ring a bell when time is up.
2. What to Do When Unqualified People Try to Share. (Typical BBSS meetings)
It is the responsibility of the chairperson to determine whether a person is qualified, or stays on point. The chairperson must listen carefully to what the person is saying about the step and try to determine whether the person's experience is consistent with the directions, or subject, in the text. Some warning signs that someone is at this BB meeting for the first time; mentions other methods, other 12 step literature, AWOL's, treatment center step work, Joe and Charlie seminars and tapes, the 7 deadly sins, assets-liabilities checklists; talks around the step and won't get to the point; is unfamiliar to the group and is not familiar with BBSS meetings; is visiting from another group; is a popular and well respected "oldtimer," but speaks very little of their own step experience, or how exactly they did the steps.
As described earlier, the chair can interrupt a person and ask them if they have "done this step the way it is laid out on these specific pages in the book Alcoholics Anonymous?" or redirect them to the pages read. There are many approaches to this. Most successful approaches are direct, but always courteous and polite, and start with "Excuse me..." If the person says they have done it this way, or if there is still some doubt, the next step is to ask them if they would mind answering a few questions to satisfy the group. If they have done the steps, especially the 4th step the way it is laid out, they shouldn't mind too much if they are asked some questions related directly to the basic instructions for the 4th step, such as, "Can you please tell me what the main parts of the 4th step are?" and "What are the 4 main defects in the 1st part of the inventory? " or "How did you do your turnarounds?" and "How did you do your sex inventory?" These are not meant to embarrass the person, but to see if they are qualified to share. It is not fair to ask other people to pass and listen who are writing their 4th steps for months on end, and let people with questionable experience get by and water down the meeting. This weakens the group, and will frustrate qualified people who have had the experience, and do not want to hear (or for their sponsees to hear) about other methods which the group conscience rejects.
If the chairperson fails to do this at meeting level, a qualified person should go up to the person in question directly after the meeting to explain the format, and ask some of those same questions. Some chairpersons ask to see the visitor's 4th step, and offer to show them their own. This is all done in an attitude of genuine concern, helpfulness, and loving service.
What happens if the person becomes angry and insists on sharing? It is wise to give them their 5 minutes and let them have their say. But, at a later time, they still need to demonstrate that they have had the experience, if they want to participate on a sharing level. Our inventories have shown us that outbursts of anger are often self-seeking strategies to protect our security, self esteem, personal relations, ambition, and pride are designed to get us the things that we want. The old expression "an empty barrel makes the most noise" best describes this type of reaction.
Step Rotation & Readings
Week 1 - Step One
"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol..."
The Doctor's Opinion pp. xxv-xxxii
Week 2 - Step One
"...that our lives had become unmanageable."
Chapter 3: More About Alcoholism pp. 30-43
Week 3 - Step Two
"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."
Chapter 2: There is A Solution pp 17–29; also Appendix II: Spiritual Experience pp 569
Week 4 - Step Two
"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."
Chapter 4: We Agnostics pp. 44-57
Week 5 - Step Three
"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him
Chapter 5: How It Works pp.58-64
Week 6 - Step Four
"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." Resentment
Chapter 5: How It Works pp.64-67
Week 7 - Step Four
"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." Fear
Chapter 5: How It Works pp.67-68
Week 8 - Step Four
"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." Sex Conduct
Chapter 5: How It Works pp. 68-71
Week 9 - Step Five
“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Chapter 6: Into Action pp. 72-75
Week 10 - Step Six & Seven
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."
Chapter 6: Into Action pp. 76
Week 11 - Step Eight & Nine
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
Chapter 6: Into Action pp. 76-84
Week 12 - Step Ten
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
Chapter 6: Into Action pp. 84-85
Week 13 - Step Eleven
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him , praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
Chapter 6: Into Action pp. 85-88
Week 14 - Step Twelve
“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics...”
Chapter 7: Working with Others pp. 89-96
Week 15 - Step Twelve
“...and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Chapter 7: Working with Others pp. 96-103
The Group's Service
The position of Secretary, Treasurer, Group Steward, and Alternate Group Steward are a one year term. The member who takes one of these positions must meet the same requirements as a member qualified to share in a typical BBSS meeting, they must have completed a 4th and 5th step and be well into the amends of the 9th step. The Alternate Group Steward assumes the position of Group Steward at the end of their term and serves a one-year term in this position.
The Secretary is responsible for reading the announcements, running the monthly business meetings, and updating the group list as needed. The Secretary will stand while reading the announcements.
The Treasurer is responsible for all monies collected and the disbursement of funds to cover rent and any other expenses authorized by the members.
The Group Steward is responsible for holding and upholding the Group Conscience and relevant materials. Is willing to interrupt the regular and business meetings when warranted to redirect them to the purpose of the group. Is responsible for explaining the Group Conscience, Group Format and other areas of the group or meeting when requested. Is responsible for explaining this to new members and new group members.
The Alternate Group Steward is responsible for holding and upholding the Group Conscience and relevant materials. Is willing to interrupt the regular and business meetings when warranted to redirect them to the purpose of the group. Is responsible for explaining the Group Conscience, Group Format and other areas of the group or meeting when requested and is responsible for explaining this to new members and new group members. The Alternate Group Steward fills in for the regular position holder in their absence.
The position of Coffee Maker is a term served based on the agreement of the holder. The only requirement for this position is that they be sober 90 days.
The Coffee Maker is responsible for preparing the space for the meeting and making sure the coffee is ready before the meeting begins.
Elections for these positions will take place during the regular business meeting(s) and not during the Group Conscience meeting(s).
Members who meet the typical group conscience of the BBSS meetings and qualify to share may celebrate their anniversary. Anniversaries will be celebrated on the last Tuesday of the month following the Lord's Prayer. Group member will be presented with a card and medallion.
"You Can Recover" does not celebrate the group's anniversary with speakers, etc. The group's start date is Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
3. Business Meetings.
A business meeting will be held on the last Tuesday of the month, following any anniversary presentations, and will be limited to no more than 20 minutes. Business meetings will close with the Secretary's choice of prayer.
Discussion and decisions about matters and relevant votes are limited to those who hold the same qualification as a speaker in a BBSS meeting. "Robert's Rules of Order" will be followed for business meetings. The group's Secretary will guide the business meeting.
4. Changes To The Group Conscience.
The Group Conscience for "You Can Recover" is adopted at the start of the first meeting on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 and cannot be altered for the first calendar year unless the founding members come to a unanimous decision to do so. A vote will take place on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, and each year thereafter at or about the same date on a Tuesday, to make changes after the following process takes place. Only group members who qualify to speak by the group conscience of the typical BBSS meetings may speak and vote during this process though all group members may attend.
a) A clipboard will be circulated each Tuesday during January to gather ideas for any possible changes to the group conscience. No other ideas will be added for discussion vote at the close of January.
b) A 15 minute meeting will be held each Tuesday in the month of February following the regular meeting if needed to discuss these ideas.
c) A vote will take place on the first Tuesday of March on the ideas discussed throughout the previous month and any changes made will be effective at the start of the next meeting on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. A member must be present at all of the discussion meetings throughout February to vote. This meeting is for a vote only; there will be no further discussion or explanation of what the vote is relevant to.
d) To summarize: a group member must attend each of the meetings through February and be qualified to speak per the typical BBSS group conscience at the beginning of the process to vote.
- The website bbstepstudy.com will be used to make recordings available and be of service to others.
- When a speaker is agreeable to being recorded during their share it will be uploaded to the website and made available to visitors there. Anonymity of the speakers will be observed.
- It is agreed that All Saints Church will be the location for our meeting yet this can be changed to accommodate our fellowship as needed. "You Can Recover" is an open meeting.
- The founding members of "You Can Recover" will rotate the chair and speaker positions for the first year. The founding members are Tom T., Brendan H., and Bobby B. This decision and direction is in place to ensure that the integrity of the group format and group conscience is upheld and preserved. Each of the founding members may defer their chair or speaker position to another member who is qualified.
- The position of Secretary will be held by Brendan for the first year.
- The position of Treasurer will be held by Tom for the first year.
- The position of Group Steward will be held by Bobby for the first year.
- The position of Alternate Group Steward will be held by Tom for the first year.
- The group list will be updated as needed by the Secretary. A listing for a member will be removed if they do not attend the meeting regularly.
- Changes may be made to the Secretary's Report by virtue of the regular monthly business meetings.
- The group conscience for this meeting is relaxed compared to the typical BBSS group conscience and meetings. This can be changed to the typical format anytime in the first year without, and before, a group conscience meeting by a unanimous decision of the three founding members. In the event any of the founding members leave the group the remaining member(s) will uphold the group conscience under the same guidelines.
- A prudent reserve equal of 100$ will be held by the group's treasurer.
- Funds will be disbursed at the conclusion of each month in the following manner after all needs, coffee, literature, etc., are met. An amount equal to half will be paid to All Saints Church, minimum 40$, for rent with the balance being disbursed to one of the following three bodies. 1. So. RI Intergroup. 2. RI Central Service. 3. RI Area Committee. The disbursements begin at the end of March 2020 and will include So. RI Intergroup. The following month will include RI Central Service, with the following including RI Area Committee and will follow this rotation unless changed by a vote of group conscience.
The Big Book Step Study meeting works by being very structured and specific, providing "clear cut directions" on how to recover from the disease of alcoholism. They work by putting the principles of AA ahead of our own (and other people's) personalities, and by keeping one aim above all else: carrying the AA message to the alcoholic who still suffers—no matter how long they have been sober.
"The Group's Service" is included to protect the integrity of the "Group Conscience" and "Meeting Format" of "You Can Recover."
It is essential to have done the steps this way in order to have the experience, faith, and courage it takes to pass it on. As it says on page 164 of our book: "But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven't got."