The group is the basic unit where close personal interchange among members takes place. The entire S-Anon fellowship service structure exists for the sole purpose of helping the groups to help people (Traditions Five and Nine). We have found it is important for every member to participate in some way. Most of us find there is wonderful potential for growth when we welcome opportunities to be useful to the group. This may include accepting a group service position (such as Group Secretary), agreeing to a request to speak at a fellowship marathon or convention, undertaking minor tasks, or simply welcoming and giving comfort to other members. While members may attend several different groups, it is common practice to designate one of the groups as your “home” group—the group in which you perform service and participate in S-Anon Fellowshipwide Group Conscience votes.
Local Group Service Structure
We have found that it works best when group organization is kept simple (Tradition Nine), but even a small group needs a Secretary/Treasurer. This person usually collects and keeps track of Seventh Tradition donations, acts as a contact with the World Service Office (WSO) by receiving mail for the group either at home or at a post office box, shares correspondence received from the WSO with the group, and orders literature when needed. This person may also chair Group Conscience Meetings (described in Part 1, “Group Decision-Making) and/or take meeting minutes if another member chairs the meeting. Larger groups generally split up these duties.
Most of us begin our personal recovery journey by attending an S-Anon or S-Ateen group, getting a sponsor and working the Twelve Steps. If the group is healthy and functioning well, discussion of the Twelve Traditions keeps us on track and helps to solve group problems. Group service positions are established, and the group grows and prospers. If an Intergroup is operating in the local area, local groups may designate group representatives (GRs) to attend Intergroup meetings and take information back to their groups on the matters of interest to all the local groups.
Most groups adopt a requirement that members attend meetings for a certain period of time, usually between 3 and 6 months, before assuming a group service position. This allows time for newcomers to ground themselves in the S-Anon program before taking on service responsibilities. Members are commonly elected (or volunteer) for 3-, 6- or 12-month periods of service, as decided by the group. Frequent rotation gives all members the privilege of serving. Tradition Two reminds us that group officers are trusted servants; they lead but do not govern.
S-Anon groups have an additional responsibility to fulfill. As discussed in Part 1, above, S-Anon groups hold the ultimate authority and responsibility for the functioning of the fellowship as a whole (Concept One). A local group exercises that authority and responsibility by electing and supporting their Area (state or province) Delegate, giving that Delegate feedback when requested through the Group Contact Person or Group Representative, and taking an interest in the Delegate’s report after she or he attends the World Service Conference. Issues being discussed at the World Service Conference may seem abstract or unimportant when compared to everyday problems and concerns, but becoming informed about those issues results in a more informed group conscience, and better decisions for our fellowship.
Autonomy of Individual Groups
Each group is autonomous, so specifics relating to meeting format, Twelfth-Step work, etc., are decided by the group conscience. (See Part 1, “Group Decision Making.”) But, groups are autonomous only to the extent that S-Anon as a whole is not affected by their decisions. Each member of the group is encouraged and empowered to remind other members, if necessary, of our commitment to the Meeting Guidelines and Twelve Traditions of S-Anon. We are all responsible, not just the group officers or meeting leaders. No S-Anon Information Services Group (Intergroup), service committee, or other service entity has the authority to “disband” a group because they disapprove of the manner in which it practices the S-Anon program. An ISG may decline to list a group on the local meeting list, or the WSO may decline to register a group that has chosen not to abide by the Twelve Traditions of S-Anon (Tradition Four). (Also see Part 1, “How Groups are Registered.”
Last Updated June 2020