The First A.A. World Service Meeting

The First A.A. World Service Meeting

  For the first time, representatives from countries where A.A.s have established a G.S.O or a literature distribution center convene to share information on service structures, group services, publishing, and finance. The date is October 8-11, 1969, and the place is the East Room of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Attendees include Bill W., Chairman Dr. John L. Norris, G.S.O. New York manager Bob H., as well as 27 delegates from 16 countries, as follows:
  • Australia - Bernice F. and Ernest L.
  • Belgium - Adolph V. and Andries VanStaen (non alcoholic)
  • Guatemala - Gustavo E.
  • Costa Rica - Roberto S.
  • Columbia - Arturo E.
  • Finland - Johan T. and Veiicko Kuosmanen
  • France - Jacques A. and Roger P.
  • Germany - Guenter B. and Dr. Waither Lechler (non¬alcoholic)
  • Holland - Piet de W. and Hans K.
  • Mexico - Antonio H. and Jorge M.
  • New Zealand - Irvan T. and Ian M.
  • Norway - Haaiçon C. and Erling N.
  • South Africa - Glen B. and Andries K.
  • England - W.D. (Wick) W. and Alan B.
  • (U.S./Canada - Warren S. and Charles (Chuck) D.


"East Room" in the Roosevelt Hotel, New York City, NY
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  Some of these delegates were the founders of A.A. in their respective countries. Also voting members were Bill Wilson; Dr. Jack Norris, Chairman of the General Service Board; and Bob H., General Manager of the General Service Office and President of A.A. World Services, Inc. Midge M. was the Secretary and Coordinator of the First World Service Meeting. And because of the informational nature of this initial gathering, all the other G.S.O. and Grapevine staff members, and most of the Trustees were involved as well.
  The theme of the meeting was "Our Common Welfare." The delegates and their wives gathered for a reception and registration at the Roosevelt on Wednesday evening. The first event the following morning was a visit and tour of G.S.O. and the Grapevine, then located at 305 East 45th Street. The opening general session began at 10:45 a.m. with greetings from Dr. Norris. Thereafter, the agenda for the next three full days was broken down into segments devoted to structure, finance, publishing, services, and general service boards. Each segment began with an explanation of how that subject functioned in North America, after which each country reported on how the same subject operated there. The delegates then met in smaller workshop group to discuss and share their experiences regarding the subject. Time was also allowed for some historical reminiscences by Bill W. and some sharing from the U.S./Canada delegates on general service activities at both the area level and the conference level.
  An "Opening Dinner" was held on Thursday, followed by an A.A. meeting. It was chaired by Warren S., U. 5./Canada delegate; and the speakers were Gustavo E. from Guatemala followed by Bill and Lois. At the final evaluation session on Saturday afternoon, the delegates unanimously agreed that the First World Service Meeting had been worthwhile and approved the idea of holding future meetings. New York was the unanimous choice for the next meeting, which they agreed should be three years hence; however, they felt that other future meetings should be held in other areas of the world, if feasible. They accepted the principle of staggered rotation in electing future delegates, but left the specific implementation up to their boards and offices. Finally, the delegates recommended the formation of four committees to conduct the business of the World Service Meeting until the next gathering could be held. These were: Policy; Finance; Agenda/Admissions; and Literature/Publishing - with members to be chosen by lot, with emphasis on geographical distribution.
  All the proceedings of the First World Service Meeting -presentations, reports and talks - were preserved in mimeographed form, .a valuable historical resource. The only printed report, however, was the Holiday Issue of "Box 4-5-9" in 1969, under the general headline, "Language of the Heart Heard ‘Round the World." And Midge M., writing to the delegates in November, said, "It isn't possible to adequately put into words the wonderful feeling of love and unity that existed between us all."

The Year

1969

October 9th-11th

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