My Experiences as GSR
I was encouraged into service right from the start of my joining AA. After rotating through the service positions in my homegroup I was nominated and elected to become the GSR. At first it was quite a daunting prospect being the primary servant of the group, especially as my predecessor made it look so easy, however I was sponsored in fully and shown what the role entailed. Although it was a challenging and busy two years I found the experience really rewarding. The following are the things that sprang to mind as I sat down to write this article, which I hope can be of use to anyone becoming a GSR.
The role of the GSR in Britain differs greatly from what Bill and Bob had in mind. If you read the World Service Manual it describes a completely different service structure, and name and role for the GSR. The intended name of the GSR is the General Service Rep but in the UK this, along with the service structure, was changed for some reason to Group Service Rep. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous wanted the individual groups to have a direct say in what happened in AA and so wanted the GSR of each group to have a vote as to who should become delegate for their particular area. The difference in the UK is that the GSR only votes at Intergroup, then up to 3 Intergroup representatives go to Region, and Region then vote on who should become delegate for their area. Using the system we have in the UK the following are just some of my experiences whilst I was the GSR of my group.
Knowledge of the AA literature was essential so that when I went to a committee and started contributing to discussion and votes, I knew what I was talking about. Long before I was elected I had already been encouraged to start reading, among others, the twelve traditions, twelve concepts, AA comes of age, the AA group pamphlet, and the AA service manual for Great Britain. Being the GSR for my group did not make me popular as I had to make decisions based on our primary purpose which not everyone agreed with. You also need to not be afraid of standing up for the AA principles (traditions, concepts and guidelines) and not be afraid to speak up if you feel that they are being ignored. I sometimes found it hard to be the minority opinion (concept 5) at a committee but had to do what I felt was right.
I have mentioned committees above and one of the main duties when I was GSR for my group was as a ‘go between’ between my homegroup and our local intergroup. This involved taking the conscience from my group to intergroup meetings and voting on the various business items on the agenda, and vice versa. It did not mean however that I went there with a strict mandate from my group to vote a certain way. I could go against the conscience of my group and vote the other way as long as I returned to my group and explained why. This was exercising the use of concept 3 the right of decision, and was often based on discussion and new information arising at committee.
Another duty I undertook was to organize the people doing service within the group such as tea team, literature, secretary and so on. This involved making sure that they knew what the service entailed and that they were being sponsored into the position. It meant that if anyone was away then I would ensure their position was being covered. It also meant liaising with the venue landlords if there were any problems. All of this meant that the meeting could carry the message of how to recover to the newcomer in the best possible way.
The role of GSR in my group also involved more lighthearted duties such as organizing trips and activities for my homegroup. This included arranging coaches for trips to conventions and conference meetings, arranging Christmas parties and outings, and group birthday meals. I remember well turning up at the local cinema with nearly 400 pounds cash and booking about 58 tickets for our Christmas outing – the lad in the booking office nearly fell off his chair! Arranging these was challenging at times, however the results were always a good laugh and gave the newcomer proof that we are not a glum lot.
Ben B., Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth