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How does the Beacon Group operate? Why a steering committee?

The Beacon Group operates by a steering committee, designed to steward the group in delivering the recovery message of AA in the best possible way. The steering committee meets once per month to consider and vote on issues brought to steering committee members by group members. The steering committee effectively takes the place of large group business or group conscience meetings. Instead of bringing issues, questions, and concerns to the group in a big group meeting, group members bring these items directly to steering committee members, and the steering committee members bring them to the steering committee meetings, to discuss them and vote on them. Although this practice is not done a lot in the Boston area, it is used by many groups throughout the country, especially large groups and growing groups like the Beacon Group. It is mentioned in ‘The AA Group’ pamphlet as well. The belief is that the steering committee format is more efficient and nimble in considering group issues and effecting changes.

Who is on the BG steering committee? How was the steering committee membership decided?
The Beacon Group steering committee is currently comprised of five members:  Amanda W, Arisa B, Katie B, Kristina G, and Margaret Y. To serve on the steering committee, group members must have 5 years of current, continuous sobriety, at least 2 years as an active home member of the group, have served as a group representative in the A.A. service structure, and a strong, active commitment to working AA’s 12 step recovery program. When the Beacon Group was formed by Arisa B and Mary N, they decided to create a steering committee to steward the meeting for the above reasons. They looked to AA precedent to determine how to initially form the steering committee. The founders of both the Atlantic Group of NY (our sister group), and the Pacific Group from LA — both models for the Beacon Group format and goals of the Beacon Group — appointed four members initially to serve, including the founding members. As these groups grew, they elected new members to the committee on a yearly basis, and the founding members rotated off of the committee in due time.
How does Group Conscience operate in the Beacon Group?
Group conscience operates in the way outlined above — individual group members or groups of members can at any time present ideas, issues, questions, comments, suggestions, complaints, etc. to any steering committee member. It is the job of steering committee members to keep the lines of communication open to all members, and to present any and all issues to the steering committee openly and honestly. Group conscience is assured by the fact that members vote steering committee members to the committee. Because we are a young group, two serving steering committee members were not voted but appointed to the committee, as mentioned above. After our April 18 election, the steering committee will be comprised of two voted members, and two appointed members. And in November, the group will elect yet another steering committee member, which will make three elected members. Our intention is to grow the steering committee by at least one member per year as the group grows. And, as the steering committee grows, the original appointed members of the committee will leave their posts. At this point, there is no set ‘term’ for steering committee membership, and the total number of steering committee members will be determined as the group grows. So, in effect, the steering committee will simply gain members for a few years (or replace, if steering committee members decide to resign). Then, when the group size has stabilized, and the number of steering committee members readily supports that size, so the steering committee size will be fixed, and, as new members are elected, the longest serving members will rotate off the committee. The Beacon Group may have group meetings from time to time as group issues warrant, but these meetings are not scheduled. Again, group conscience at the Beacon Group is grounded in the members’ good, trusting, open relations and communication with steering committee members.
What do steering committee members do?
In addition to meeting once per month to discuss issues related to the group, steering committee members hold significant service positions, such as group meeting coordinator, 30-minute speaker bookie, treasurer, secretary, and membership chair. It’s important to note that the main practical function of steering committee members is the effective performance of these roles. Running for steering committee membership, therefore, expresses a willingness to perform this level of service over a sustained period of time.
Why the dress code?
The Beacon Group does not have a dress code — the request for speakers to wear business casual clothing is a suggestion, and a long-held AA tradition among speaker groups that was started by AA’s founders. It is our group preference and group conscience, and expresses our respect for the AA message our speakers deliver from the podium each week. Again, our dress suggestion is just that — a suggestion.
Why the elaborate format and script?
When the Beacon Group was formed as a solution-based speaker meeting, the founders looked to AA precedent in other such meetings to establish a working format. Like all formats, ours is not perfect, but at its core it expresses our fundamental belief that the meeting should remain solution-focused, not problem-driven. As we have grown over the past year, we have made changes to the format and the script, always with an eye on delivering the recovery message of AA in the most effective, efficient way. It is a work in progress, and we welcome suggestions for improvement.
Why are the Beacon Group meetings being recorded?
We record our meetings for the same reason we have a CD lending library: to carry the message of AA. Many of us benefit from being able to take a meeting with us – on the road, in the car, etc — and to share the message with other AAs. Members of the group have asked if they can get recordings from our meetings, because they have enjoyed our speakers and the message we carry, and our CD lending library already offers recordings from our sister group, the Atlantic Group, as well as from other speaker meetings and conferences. The tradition of recording meetings and sharing the content among AAs extends back to our founders, and that tradition is guided by tradition 11, which states that we are anonymous at the level of press radio and films. Solid, time-honored guidelines for recording and sharing have developed over the years throughout AA, and we follow those guidelines to the letter. And we are mindful of speakers’ requests for anonymity — anyone not wanting to be recorded is deleted from the recording. Recordings of our meetings will be added to the library several times a year, not weekly.
How are service positions assigned at the Beacon Group? Who decides and how can I get a job?
Jobs are assigned by the Membership Chair of the steering committee — currently Sarah R. The Beacon Group has no sobriety requirements for any job except steering committee positions. As our meeting has grown, more service opportunities have arisen, and the steering committee continues to create new jobs to meet the need. Our policy is, as much as possible, to give every one who wants a job an opportunity to do service — so the job pool may vary by demand. In general, members express their preferences for jobs and the Membership Chair does everything possible to match members with those preferences. Sometimes contingencies such as the ability to come early or stay late, or make a consistent commitment to a position’s responsibilities, determine job assignments. And each member is welcome to request a different position if the one they are offered does not work for them. Occasionally, if a position consistently goes unfilled, the Membership Chair may suggest job changes, in order to make sure all service commitments get fulfilled.