The strength of our whole A.A. service structure starts with the group and with the general service representative (G.S.R.) the group elects. I cannot emphasize too strongly the G.S.R.’s importance.

Bill W. on General Service and the GSR

GSR Resources


A group ought to choose its G.S.R. with as much care as it does in choosing its treasurer. Both are custodians of the group’s welfare. The G.S.R. should have knowledge of the A.A. service structure, the traditions, and the program.

The G.S.R. is elected for a two-year term, during which they should hold no other office. Two or three years of sobriety are usually required. Ability, experience, and willingness to serve are essential. The election of the G.S.R. (and Alternate G.S.R.) usually takes place in October just before the election of the Area Conference Delegate.

If the group does not understand its place in the service structure of Alcoholics Anonymous, the G.S.R. needs to inform and guide the group.

The attitude of the group determines how well its G.S.R. can function. Many group members may interfere with the G.S.R.’s efforts to involve the group in the future of Alcoholics Anonymous. Their reasoning may be an objection to “the politics” or they may be saying, “We don’t need all that stuff.” Finally they may say, “What about keep it simple?” This A.A. slogan of “Keep It Simple” can be used as an all-purpose cop-out and an argument against love and service.

Bill W. was concerned about the exhortation to “keep it simple”. In a Grapevine article Bill says:

A return to the kitchen table era would bring no hope for simplicity. It could mean wholesale irresponsibility, disharmony and ineffectiveness.

Returning to that early-time brand of simplicity would be as absurd as selling the steering wheel, the gas tank, and the tires off our family car. The car would be simplified all right – no more gas and repair bills, either! But our car wouldn’t go anyplace. The family life would hardly be simplified, it would instantly become confused and complicated.

Bill W. Grapevine Article July 1970


First, you will want to contact the Area registrar to update your contact information. Please email with your contact information to get started.

You will want to inform yourself about A.A. General Service. There are many resources available digitally through We suggest reading:

The A.A. Group… Where It All Begins
The Content of The Group Handbook – which contains links to literature
The A.A. Service Manual

Also, it is a good idea to get a group subscription to Box 459 the GSO newsletter. You can sign up to receive a digital copy for free online. A printed group subscription (10 copies per issue) is $6.00 per year. It contains much information of interest and is useful to the group.

Find out which District your group is a part of. You can view the map here. Contact your District Committee Member (DCM) through this website. Find out when and where the District meetings are held. Attend all District meetings with your Alternate.

Give reports to inform the group about what is happening, regardless of opposition. It may be necessary to confront the group about your right to report. Some G.S.R.s have been creative in getting around opposition. One G.S.R. duplicated reports and left them lying around as though by accident. Curiosity did the job.

There is ample opportunity to participate at the District level if you are interested. The District may host a Workshop, Sharing Session, or other event. These require a lot of planning, publicity, and service work.

Attend all Area Assemblies with your Alternate.

The Fall Assembly of odd year’s (e.g. 2025) is an election Assembly. The new Alternate Delegate and Area Officers are elected by the G.S.R.s. They need experience gained by attending business meetings at the District and Area level to pick the best people for the jobs.

Try to lead the Group in being a working part of A.A.

And finally, the pay off: You are doing something to help solve the problem of passing this program on. This is real 12th Step work. You meet people from all over; the future leaders in A.A. nearly all of our Trustees, Delegates, GSO staff, and Area Officers began their service as the group G.S. R. You need to start there if you wish to serve A.A. as a whole.


As a G.S.R. there will be lots of meetings to attend. Being a good G.S.R. requires that you attend the service meetings that are held for you and your fellow G.S.R.’s. They include:

  • YOUR HOME GROUP MEETINGS: This seems to be obvious, but it is not. But, from time to time, someone is elected G.S.R. who mistakenly thinks that it is an honorary post, which is bestowed for its prestige value. It is not. It is a job that requires a lot of involvement. Some of this is in your own group. You supply the knowledge of what is happening in the neighboring groups, what is the usual response to local problems that other groups have encountered. You may need to be the voice of the group conscience when your group has a problem. You should be one of the voices of reason and responsibility in your home group. The group has given you some authority. Use it.
  • DISTRICT MEETINGS: These meetings are set up by your District Committee Member (DCM). They vary depending on your district. The Alternate G.S.R. should attend meetings with the G.S.R., learning the job so that the group can have an experienced representative when the present G.S.R.’s term is up.
  • AREA ASSEMBLIES: These meetings are held on the Third Sunday of the month at 1:00 p.m. at Senior Center, Jefferson Ave, Toledo. The Alternate G.S.R. should attend meetings with the G.S.R., learning the job so that the group can have an experienced representative when the present G.S.R.’s term is up. The Alternate can vote in the Area Assemblies when the G.S.R. is absent. It is the responsibility of the G.S.R. to notify the G.S.R.A. when the G.S.R. cannot attend a meeting.


The basic unit is the autonomous A.A. Group, with 10-20 members in the average sized Group.

The G.S.R. is the General Service Representative for the Group. The G.S.R.s represent their Groups at the District Meetings and Area Assemblies.

Every Group has one vote in District Committee and Area Assembly meetings. The G.S.R. or the Alternate G.S.R. casts this vote, if the G.S.R. is absent. They participate in the making of A.A. policy. They carry news and opinions to and from the Group, forming the link between their Group and the rest of A.A.

The Area Committee, at the direction of the assembly, is responsible for the Area business, the Assembly Agenda, organizing the annual Area 55 Mini Conference and hosting the Ohio State Convention every four years. The Area Committee is composed of the D.C.M.s or Alternates, Treasurer, Recording Secretary, Mailing Secretary, Alternate Delegate and Area Delegate. In Area 55, committee members, excluding the Delegate, are elected by the G.S.R.s at the Assembly meeting.

Included in the Area Committee are the chairpersons which are appointed by the incoming Delegate.

The NW Ohio and SE Michigan Area 55 is actually one of the 93 delegate Areas in the United States and Canada, to send a Delegate to the yearly General Service Conference of A.A. in New York City. The Area 55 Delegate is the representative of over 280 A.A. Groups.

The Conference meets for six days each April. There are 142 voting members: 93 elected Delegates from the A.A. membership, 21 Trustees, 9 A.A. World Services Inc. and Grapevine Inc. Directors, and 15 staffers from the General Service Office and 4 Emeriti. Seven of the Trustees are non-alcoholic.


The “Committee” is the device by which A.A. service manages to function.

Many of the new General Service Representatives going to their first business meeting expect that these affairs will be conducted in a manner that will duplicate the model of Democracy set by the ancient Greek City-states. Free Citizens met as equals to deal with the issues of the day; they proclaimed, analyzed, argued, and voted to decide what action was to be taken and decided who was to do it. What is forgotten is that this was just about all a Citizen did; the slaves did all the work. Democracy was so time consuming that very little got done.

In the same way, A.A. business meetings tend to choke up on endless talk and very little gets done. This is made worse by the alcoholic ego and emotional immaturity. An issue is presented, a motion is made, seconded, discussed and voted for; then the discussion continues, amendments are offered, arguments flourish and finally the motion is withdrawn. After two hours, they are back to square one. Sometimes new G.S.R.s, shocked at the wrangling they find at their first Area Assembly, vow never to attend another.

One answer is in the use of the Ad-hoc Committee. A group of people is given a problem or a task, and this group or “committee” goes off and thinks and talks about it; and usually they reach a decision, which is presented as a “report”.

One advantage that the committee has is time. Time to fully look into the various things that are involved. Time to gather information. Time to listen to people who have experience with or have a special interest in the proposed action. Time to allow heated emotions to cool. Time to sense the consciousness of the group.

The committee’s recommendation given in the report is then offered to the Area Assembly, or to the General Service Conference. The recommendation of the committee is not binding on the voting body. They may accept or reject the action suggested by the report. They are free to take a different action. However, in most cases the course of action recommended by the committee can be voted on without wasting a lot of time in hashing it all over again. At our annual General Service Conference a year’s worth of business is transacted in five days. This would be impossible without the work of the specialized Conference Committees.

This, then, is the committee system. It has served A.A. well. Like everything else it has flaws. It is slow, a dictator could move faster. A giraffe has been described as a horse designed by a committee. A committee is a good place to bury an unpopular idea.

Sometimes, we hear the plea “Trust the Committee System” being offered to turn aside difficult questions, as an argument against change, or to ward off a valid criticism. The implication is that the “Committee System” is some sacred principle, grounded in the spiritual bedrock of A.A. and to question the results of the “Committee System” would be rank heresy. This of course, is nonsense.

There is nothing in the committee system that makes it immune to poor judgment, errors, bad faith, or just being dead wrong. ‘The system is a tool, an implement, and to ask that one “trust the system” is like a mechanic asking that you trust his wrench when you complain about the bill.


The Area Assembly conducts the primary business of the Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan Delegate Area 55. The Area Assembly is held 11 months out of the year, with no meetings in March due to the Area 55 Mini Conference.

The Area Assembly is a closed business meeting made up of the Area G.S.R.s, the D.C.M.s, the Area Committee, past Delegates and all interested A.A’s. Any A.A. member may attend but they do not have a vote.

Any meeting of area G.S.R.s and the Area Committee is an assembly. The Area Assembly is the mainspring of the Conference structure – the democratic voice of the movement expressing itself. Assemblies are the responsibility of the Area Committee, and are conducted by its Chairperson.

The Delegate, Secretary and Treasurer also give reports to the Assembly. Reports are also given to the Assembly by Committee chairpersons. Old Business and New Business follow this. Topics are the result of items brought forward by the Area Committee and/or the G.S.R.s. Discussion is held and, where necessary, items are voted upon. This is when any member may address the Assembly on any A.A. topic.