What a wonderful experience it was to attend the 2014 Annual Business Conference of the ACA fellowship and WSO. It was held on the beautiful campus of Trinity University in Deerfield, IL. on April 25th and 26th

We arrived on Friday morning, meeting and greeting old friends and making new ones. It was great to be able to put faces together with the voices of some of those who’ve begun in service by attending our monthly teleconferences. We were called to order at 10:03 a.m. reciting the Serenity Prayer. Laura read our ACA Traditions; Charlie read our ACA Commitment to Service. The reading for the day from our Meditation book, Strengthening My Recovery, was read by Martin C., from the UK. We then received a warm welcome from Al, of the West Great Lakes Intergroup, who wore 3 hats–literally. One hat–which was no hat, presented Al–a fellow traveler—attending the ABC for the opportunity

of sharing experience, strength and hope with other fellow travelers. Another hat, a red-white-and blue bandanna head rag, was worn when he spoke as a delegate on behalf of his Intergroup. When he gave information as the Chair of the Planning Committee–he humbly donned a bright, multi-colored, clown hair-wig, having survived the 3-ring circus of planning this event for the ACA fellowship. Phyllis read The 12 Concepts of Service. We then heard an excellent sharing from Terri—a fellow traveler who was “around” when the fellowship came together. She spoke of her 30 years of ACA experience, stressing that this program saves lives. We then presented Phyllis and Scott, former Board members, with tokens of appreciation for their years of service with ACA. They were around when the ACA Office had to close its doors. There were $1100 worth of bills and $300 in the account. There was a lack of funds and a lack of volunteers. What a privilege it was to meet and be with this handful of people, being some of the pioneers of the ACA fellowship. It was an honor to hear them share.

     After breaking and reconvening from lunch, the minutes of the 2013 ABC were read and approved. A report from the Secretary included the personal, heart-felt experience of the previous year’s ABC, the first out of country ABC held in Denmark.   Then our Treasurer reported the success of implementing application of our finances into two main cost centers. The Literature Chairman included reports on ACA’s participation in the “Addiction and Its Effects on the Family” conference held in San Juan in September, 2013. Literature also reported on the final publication of our very own meditation book, Strengthening My Recovery. We also were able to present to Mary Jo L. as chair of the meditation book committee, the very first (#0001) in the production of the meditation book signed by all board members. The Distribution Center (WSO Office Report) was read and stated that meditation books were averaging 1000 books per month sold. Members and Public Service (MPS) spoke about the restructuring of “Outreach” and “Hospitals and Institutions” committees. The Hospitals and Institutions Committee reported about the books sent to prisons this past year and the heartfelt letters of gratitude received. Our Webmaster, Scott, who tried to retire last year, reported about the adventures of keeping our current website running while the transitions and rebuilds for upgrade are evolving. The European Committee report included information about an upcoming meeting for European ACA groups that will be held in Riga, Latvia September 24-26, 2014. This first of its kind event is a direct result of the interest generated at the2013 ABC. At this time it appears that 2 of our current Board members will be able to attend. We stand behind ACA as a “worldwide” fellowship. The Executive Board Committee reported on various purchases made, and about the Strategic Planning meeting attended by the Board. Also reported was well as the consideration of hiring an Office Manager to help us maintain effective response to the needs of the fellowship. These year-end summary reports can be found on the repository.

   We were able to watch a small video tour of our home office taken by the board members who went out last year to Signal Hill. We still have on board a very much appreciated staff member (as all our staff members and volunteers are), but Gloria was our very first paid staff member and we certainly appreciate her efforts to help us in our growth. We’ve come a long way from packing literature from back rooms, storage sheds, kitchen tables and garages.

     The fellowship then took turns reading paragraphs from a letter written to the fellowship by Larry A, our Chairman. He reminded us that “We are Actors,” which opened as WSO’s call to the members for active 12th Step service. At this phase of our fellowship’s development, the 1200 or so ACA groups would be practically supported by at least 12 special workers, but this Board has only 3 very hard-working, part-time people at the Distribution Center, one part-time special worker staffing the Board and an accountant on retainer. The ACA service infrastructure is still not fully developed or active enough in many areas to handle the service needs of our burgeoning global fellowship. The future, however, is promising!

Friday’s meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m.

       Saturday’s meeting opened with the Serenity Prayer at 9:30 a.m. followed by the day’s reading from the meditation book. We then began discussion of the proposals. (Results attached).  

     Before breaking for lunch on Saturday, we were able to present Terri (the ACAer with 30 years experience) with a Big Red Book signed by all the current Board members, thanking her for her service. We reconvened at 12:32 and Larry was able to provide a short preview of the new web design. Al then donned his West Great Lakes Intergroup head rag and presented ACA with a gift of $1000. This was a collaborative effort by the inter-group conscience as a donation for ACA to be used wherever the trusted servants of the Board see necessary. Many thanks and appreciation for that expression of service.

     Martin C. made the motion and it was 2nd to bring the issue to the fellowship delegates for vote at the 2015 ABC of adding the words: “…and other public media of communication.,” to the 11th Tradition. The background on this motion was that this was the unanimous recommendation of the former Social Media Working group chaired by Martin. The Social Media Working Group formed as a result of questions posed by the fellowship at the 2013 ABC. “How do we keep the Spirit of the Traditions and anonymity as we now have so many new venues of media such as Twitter and Face Book and You Tube?”   In the final report of that committee, it was suggested that the 11th Tradition already provides guidance as far as You Tube and similar media are concerned, as they are “film.” Face Book and Twitter may be different media and who knows what the future holds in light of public media? This motion carried, (23 yes, 2 no, 2 abstain) and the Board will bring the issue to vote at the 2015 ABC.   Martin also agreed to do more research on how other 12-Step fellowships may have upgraded or altered the Traditions to meet the needs of their members.

Martin C was asked and elected to join the Board as a Trustee.  We now have 9 Trustees.

   The ABC was honored to have 2 speakers, Peter and Nate. Each had about 6 years of ACA recovery to share. Peter said that 6 years ago, he couldn’t put 2 words together, and yet there he was telling his story at the Annual Business Conference of the fellowship. Nate compared ACA to an exercise bike, that you have to pedal to strengthen the muscles of recovery.

     The ABCs cover a lot of ground in a short span of time and I’m hoping to at least touch on some of the things I feel would concern the members not fortunate enough to attend. This report didn’t even touch on the beauty of the Trinity Campus, or the delicious meals, or the hotel accommodations or the friendliness of the students and workers. I didn’t have space to talk about the informal get togethers between meetings, the late night chats, the walks and sights of Chicago or the train rides or the see-how-many-people-you-really-can-fit into a Chicago-taxi! Dear Fellow Travelers: Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve…and I humbly submit this report.

Karen R.