General Service Office (GSO)
In 1951 the 35 odd groups in SA got together informally for the first SA conference. This meeting described as “a bit of a free for all” had some positive outcomes, one of them being the creation of a Service and Information Committee (SIC). Business was conducted according to the “Rules of Procedure”, a one-page document that is the precursor to our present day service manual
The office was hosted at one of the group venues in Pretoria until 1963 when it moved to Johannesburg.
AA in SA’s first employee was a part time lady engaged in 1964 to run the office.
Over the next 20 years the SIC set up the legal structures and AA was incorporated as a “Non-Profit Organization” with a board of Trustees being responsible for the day to day running of AA in SA.
In April 1984 at the 33rd Annual Conference held in Cape Town the groups took full responsibility for the running of AA in South Africa by adopting the charter as adopted by World Service in 1955
The Paragraph reads:
“We believe that the South African General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous is entirely capable of assuming the guardianship of AA’s Twelve Traditions within South Africa and of taking over full guidance and control of the South African services of our Society, as provided in the AA Service Manual, and thus avoiding, in future time, all possible strivings for individual prestige or personal power; and also providing our Society in South Africa with the means of functioning on a permanent basis, in relation to the AA world.
Be it Therefore Resolved: That the South African General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous is a guardian of the Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the perpetuators of the South African services of our Society, the voice of the Group Conscience of our entire South African Fellowship.”
The birth of the General Service Conference and of GSO in South Africa.
It is important to remember that these structures where set up as contemplated in our 9th Tradition where “we may create service boards or Committees directly responsible to those that they serve”
The General Service Office was established to be of service to AA in South Africa; through the structures, we take direction and instruction from the fellowship, we do not instruct the fellowship.
As with any other AA group or committee the Primary purpose of GSO is to carry the message:
To this end GSO.
1) Maintains the National Help line so that when anyone, anywhere reaches out AA is available.
2) Ensures that our literature is available to the fellowship and keeps the Areas up-dated on any new literature that may become available.
3) Maintains and keeps relevant the National web-site.
4) Produces our local publications:
a) The Regmaker - Our meeting in Print
b) AA in SA – keeping the Fellowship informed of the day to day functioning of AA as a whole
c) Alco-Solo – a meeting for the loner.
5) GSO facilitates communication at all levels of AA ensuring that the day to day working of AA is as transparent as possible.
6) The GSO Treasurer keeps audited accounts, ensuring prudent and transparent details of all income and expenses.
7) We facilitate the workings of the National Committees ensuring that the projects and work decided on at Conference are carried out.
8) GSO organises the Annual Conference at which we report back to the fellowship and the fellowship gives us instructions going forward.
9) Facilitate The Annual Convention – while this is a source of funding for GSO it is important to note that this is not the main reason for Convention. Convention is a coming together of the fellowship in friendship and unity – an opportunity to share the experience, strength and hope of members from all over South Africa. Any funds are gratefully received but GSO never sets any financial requirements.
10) Act as the liaison between our fellowship and the outside world. Communicating with the professional community, the media, business and all general enquiries.
While the above is not a complete list of all the functions of your General Service Office it gives a good idea of the work done. One of the main reasons for the existence of GSO, is for the continuation of AA in South Africa; we need to ensure that AA is here for the generations of alcoholics to come. In order to this and to continue doing what we do, we need funds - fact of life!
The General Service Office exists at your request, to be of service to you – please support it.