Starting an ACA Business Meeting

When to Hold a Business Meeting
   We have found that most individuals who attend an ACA recovery meeting do so to benefit from the experience, strength and hope shared at the meeting. We dedicate our regular meetings to topics of recovery and program study. We attempt to hold group business meetings before or after the regular ACA meeting to avoid disrupting the meeting. 

    Some group business needs to be considered by all members who regularly attend an ACA meeting. If only a quick vote needs to be taken on an issue, this could be done during the announcements at the beginning or conclusion of a regular ACA meeting. If this is done, we must remember to keep the discussion short and to vote quickly since we are taking up time from a regular ACA meeting. The topics can be group elections, changing the meeting format, time of the meeting, meeting location and safety and security of members. Longer discussions on business items need to be handled in a regular business meeting before or after the regular meeting. If a business meeting is needed to handle items of lengthy discussion, the group usually announces the business meeting one week in advance so that a representative number of group members can attend.

Scheduling a Business Meeting
   It is suggested that ACA meetings hold a regular business meeting monthly or quarterly.

Allow Everyone to Express Views
   Keep in mind the right of everyone to express an opinion. Participating in a business meeting allows us to practice learned recovery tools. The minority opinion is important. There should be an emphasis on obtaining a group conscience of all the participants on all issues, particularly when there is a disagreement. A group conscience is the method by which we invite a loving God into our group decisions and discussions. The group comes to an agreement on a given business item after each person has expressed his or her views. An agreement or course of action may not appear after the first round of discussion. If so, the chairperson of the business meeting asks for more discussion among the group members until a consensus is reached.

    Some groups will use a combination of the consensus discussion approach and entertaining formal motions. A motion is a statement made by an individual attending the business meeting. The motion calls for an action to be taken by the group. The person might say: “I make a motion to change the meeting time from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.” If a motion is made and seconded by the group members, there is usually discussion and then a vote is taken. General motions are usually passed by a simple majority. More serious motions such as removing someone from office or changing the meeting time can require a two-thirds majority.

Group Voting and Substantial Unanimity – Twelfth Concept
   Most ACA groups conduct business meetings with some form of rules of order or general consent. ACA groups are cautioned to avoid too much formality in conducting business meetings. Typically, a chairperson leads the business meeting, recognizes motions and oversees the discussion on the motions. Each person at the business usually shares once on the motion before the chairperson asks if the group is ready to vote on the motion.

    Some groups are more informal. They do not make motions or vote formally. Instead, the group discusses a topic or issue until a general consensus is reached by the group. In this form of the business meeting, the chairperson of the meeting would listen to the discussion among the group and sense when a consensus is reached. The chairperson would then state that consensus to see if there is agreement with those attending the business. The chairperson might say: “I sense that the group has decided to change the meeting time from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.” If the group agrees then consensus is reached; the decision is made. In determining a consensus, the chairperson states the consensus in an impartial manner and remains open to the will of the business meeting participants.
   There is a principle from our Twelve Concepts for ACA World Services known as “substantial unanimity”. The Twelfth Concept states: “that all important decisions be reached by discussion vote and whenever possible, by substantial unanimity.” Substantial unanimity applies to the most important business of meetings, Intergroups and Regions, in addition to the Annual Business Conference. Substantial unanimity means that decisions reached by ACA meetings or service bodies need to reflect the clear will of the group. Each group and service committee must decide the “important decisions” that require substantial unanimity. Substantial unanimity is always greater than a simple majority and should exceed a two-thirds majority of those voting on the ACA business at hand. If agreement cannot be reached, it is best to postpone action on the motion or topic.
The election of service committee members typically is settled by a simple majority vote, which is acceptable and well below substantial unanimity standard. There are other examples of ACA business being settled by a simple majority. But we are always mindful of the need for substantial unanimity on business of greater importance.

Sharing at Business Meetings
   Because our program focus is on recovery, ACA members occasionally attend business meetings to share their feelings without addressing the issues for discussion. While feelings are an important part of our recovery, we have found that it is best to share on the business at hand because of the limited time that most business meetings operate under. At business meetings, we ask questions, listen and think about our response before speaking. That said, ACA business meetings are not without emotion. Some ACA members speak with feelings and compassion while staying on the topic and without acting inappropriately in the meeting.
   We ask that children not be brought to a business meeting so that disruptions can be avoided. This is true for our Inner Children because they, too, need attention and are equally disruptive in meetings. If a person is at a business meeting and realizes he or she has not negotiated a settlement to keep the Inner Child from misbehaving at the meeting, then that person needs to excuse himself or herself from the meeting to negotiate or renegotiate with the Inner child. By taking care of our Inner Child, we are better able to participate in group business.
   The chairperson of the business meeting can ask individuals who act out to leave unless they can conduct themselves in accordance with the rules of order, discuss only the business at hand and accept the group conscience processes, deliberations and decisions gracefully.

ACA Group or Meeting Officers
A) Secretary
   The group secretary updates meeting information with its Intergroup and WSO for changes in meeting location and times, secretary or treasurer or addresses and phone numbers. Meeting information should be updated annually. 
  • The secretary opens and closes the meetings unless this is delegated to another trusted servant.
  • The secretary safeguards the meeting facility key. The secretary or meeting chairperson asks for volunteers to clean up the room when the meeting is over.
  • The secretary arranges for meeting leaders and speakers. We try to select speakers with an ACA message that reflects the Twelve Steps,  the Inner Child and reparenting one’s self with ACA principles.
  • The secretary and group members welcome newcomers at meetings.
  • The secretary and the chairperson are responsible for the unity and safety of the meeting; however, the secretary can ask for help in reminding members of the “no cross talk” rule and the limit on the amount of time that one is allowed to share.
  • The secretary announces when birthday meetings will be held and coordinates medallions, cards, refreshments and a cake or treats.
  • The secretary presents his or her report and announcements at meetings.
  • The secretary announces service opportunities becoming available. The opportunities include: chairing meetings, serving as an Intergroup representative, serving as group treasurer, helping with group duties and carrying ACA meetings into treatment centers, psychiatric units or prisons. This is recommended that group members have six months of recovery before taking a meeting within a facility.
  • Former group secretaries are encouraged to continue their Twelve Step work by carrying the message to those who still suffer and giving back to ACA what ACA has given them. Some secretaries become an Intergroup Representative for the meeting.
  • ​The outgoing secretary helps the incoming secretary to update the new meeting information with the Intergroup, World Services Organization and the meeting facility.

B) Treasurer
   (If this office is vacant, the group secretary assumes these responsibilities). The group or meeting treasurer:
  • Collects and records 7th Tradition donations.
  • Pays meeting expenses (rent, Post Office box, etc.)
  • Reimburses members who present receipts for refreshments, literature, copies, recovery chips, etc.
  • Keeps a prudent reserve (usually two month’s meeting expenses).
  • Sends 60% of the remaining group funds to Intergroup and 40%  to World Service Organization each month.
  • Suggests, when the 7th Tradition donation is taken, that the standard dollar donation of the 1950s does not cover the cost of carrying the message today. Two dollars is more appropriate.
  • Offers a monthly financial report to the group, detailing donations, expenses and fund balance.
  • Should have one year or more in the ACA recovery program and have an exemplary record of honesty.

C) Intergroup Representative
   (If this office is vacant, the group secretary assumes these responsibilities). The  Intergroup Representative:
  • Attends and participates at Intergroup and or World Service Organization (teleconference) meeting each month.
  • Communicates information and activity announcements from the Intergroup and WSO to his or her meeting. This information is usually reported weekly.
  • Makes concerns and questions of meetings known to Intergroup and WSO. Also conveys experience, strength and hope from Intergroup and WSO.
  • Gets involved with the Intergroup and WSO committees: WSO Office, literature development, ComLine Newsletter, Treasurer, Website support or Special Events.

D) Literature Chairperson
   (If this office is vacant, the group secretary assumes these responsibilities). The  Literature Chairperson:
  • Orders literature from the Intergroup or WSO.
  • Makes additional copies of depleted table literature.
  • Displays literature at each meeting.
  • Works with the secretary to determine what literature should be stocked. My help group secretary with other duties.

E) Other Possible Service Positions
   Positions such as Public Information volunteer or Hospitals and Institutions coordinator are typically filled by group members who have a working knowledge of the Steps and Traditions. There are also other positions for newcomers that include meeting greeter, set up/clean up people and meeting timer to ensure that each person can share at meetings. Newcomers should also be encouraged to chair meetings once they have demonstrated an understanding of meeting guidelines.

The Suggested Commitment to Service
   I perform service so that my program will be available for myself, and through those efforts, others may benefit. I will perform service and practice my recovery by:
  • Affirming that the true power of our program rests in the membership of the meetings and is expressed through our Higher Power and through group conscience.
  • Confirming that our process is one of inclusion and not exclusion; showing special sensitivity to the viewpoint of the minority in the process of formulating the group conscience so that any decision is reflective of the spirit of the group and not merely the vote of the majority.
  • Placing principles before personalities.
  • Keeping myself fit for service by working my recovery as a member of the program.
  • Striving to facilitate the sharing of experience, strength and hope at all levels: meetings, Intergroups, Regional committees, service boards and World Services.
  • Accepting the different forms and levels of service and allowing those around me to each function according to their own abilities.
  • Remaining willing to forgive myself and others for not performing perfectly.
  • Being willing to surrender the position in which I serve in the interest of unity and to provide the opportunity for others to serve; to avoid problems of money, property and prestige; and to avoid losing my own recovery through the use of service to act out my old behavior, especially in taking care of others, controlling, rescuing, being a victim, etc.
  • Remembering I am a trusted servant; I do not govern. BRB pgs. 594-602
  • ​For more information about starting a business meeting, contact Carol (209) 614-1058.