Can a meeting change how the twelve steps are read?
No. Changing the words of the Twelve Steps or Traditions is not honoring the Traditions or Bylaws because it affects OA as a whole. Tradition One states: “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity.”
Can an OA meeting have rules for sharing?
No. According to Tradition Three, there is no requirement for membership in OA, and honoring that means there also shouldn’t be requirements to participate in a meeting. A meeting may, however, have suggestions for those who wish to share.
Can I register a special-focus meeting for a specific religion?
No. OA does not endorse any particular practice of faith, and such a meeting is considered an outside issue.
Can we change the format to suit our meeting’s needs?
Your meeting is free to adjust the suggested format in anyway your group conscience decides. You may use as much or as little of the format as your group wants, although reading at least One of the Twelve Steps is encouraged as it lets newcomers know they are in an OA meeting. The only firm requirement is that you read the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and the OA Twelve Concepts of Service as they are written, to respect the group conscience of the World Service Business Conference who represent OA as a whole.
Can we limit who attends our special-focus meeting?
The only requirement for OA membership is the desire to stop eating compulsively. OA asks, but does not require, members to honor the focus of special-focus meetings. If a person genuinely wishes to attend any OA meeting, you cannot ask them to leave. You can speak with them on how they can honor the intention of the meeting.
How can I start a new meeting?
An OA group as defined in Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. Bylaws is: two or more persons meeting together to practice the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, guided by the Twelve Concepts of OA Service; all who have the desire to stop eating compulsively are welcome in the group; no member is required to practice any actions in order to remain a member or to have a voice (share at a meeting); as a group they have no affiliation other than OA; and it has affiliated as an Overeaters Anonymous group by registering with the World Service Office.
More information is available in our How to Start a Meeting of Overeaters Anonymous guide.
Purchase a New Group Starter Kit from the Bookstore.
Once a group has started, it is very important that the meeting location, day, and time remain consistent and updated and that at least one member is at the meeting place every week for the meeting.
How do we attract new members? How do we increase diversity in our meetings?
How do we update our group’s meeting information?
Is it necessary to have a contact name and phone number for a meeting on oa.org?
It is always necessary to balance protection of our members’ anonymity with the need to reach out to the still-suffering compulsive overeater. While concern has been expressed about listing contact names and telephone numbers on the website, it was decided that potential newcomers may need to reach a meeting contact to help them come to an OA meeting.
What are the Traditions?
A set of principles that guide us in our interaction with our OA community and in the larger world.
What can we do when members display disruptive behavior and upset the group?
Unfortunately, this sort of situation crops up on occasion. Members don’t get well instantly.
Although having a sponsor is very helpful in these situations, having a sponsor is not required for membership in OA. Tradition Three tells us, “Nobody is expelled from OA for not working the steps, not getting a sponsor, not respecting the Traditions, or not adopting the tools and practices many of us employ” (The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 130).
It appears that two Traditions (One and Three) contradict each other here. In some cases, we may need to choose which has priority. Ideally, we might be able to find some way we can honor both Traditions at the same time. Tradition One tells us that the survival of the group has to come first, because without the meeting other members will lose the opportunity to recover. Tradition Three tells us to welcome everyone who wants to stop eating compulsively. All members can work the program as they choose—but this does not come at the expense of the OA group.
The first consideration is the good of the Fellowship and its survival. While each member has the freedom to work the program as he or she chooses, that freedom may not come at the expense of the OA group. If a member’s actions are disruptive or dangerous, the OA group needs to protect itself. If it doesn’t, the meeting may fold, and everyone will lose the opportunity for recovery.
Groups and members may always refer to the “Guidelines” at oa.org/guidelines to read or download OA’s Guidelines for Addressing Disruptive Behavior Affecting Overeaters Anonymous Meetings.
What do we do if members don’t stop sharing when the timer goes off?
Someone would need to explain to the member the reason for the timer and gently remind the person sharing that their time is up.
What do we do when a person talks too long and not everyone gets a chance to share?
Two or three minutes is usually enough for someone to express their thoughts and to cover what is related to how they are using the program to deal with their daily life. Meetings that have such limits sometimes use timers to keep members on track. Each group decides if there is a time limit on sharing.
What is a group conscience meeting?
This is a time where members discuss and determine how the meeting will be run. Everyone who attends the meeting has the opportunity to voice their opinion and then the group makes a decision that best serves the members. Download the Guidelines for Group Conscience Meetings.
What prayers are recommended to use at a meeting?
The World Service Business Conference of 1993 agreed that OA meetings and events be closed with one of the following: the Serenity Prayer, the Seventh Step Prayer, the Third Step Prayer, or the OA Promise I Put My Hand in Yours.
What should we do when a member doesn’t honor a Tradition?
There are two possible approaches. First, if it is a newcomer, allow for understanding and flexibility. Newcomers may not be familiar with the Traditions, so he or she may not know a Tradition was compromised. If a longtime member does not honor a Tradition, a friendly reminder or even a Traditions Workshop refresher could be helpful. A couple of experienced group members could take those members aside and have a chat about the Traditions. Always remember that region trustee liaisons and region officers are often funded to provide workshops in your area.
Why can’t I share my recovery from other addictions in an OA meeting?
At an OA meeting we talk about OA recovery. “Our primary purpose is to abstain from compulsive eating and to carry the message of recovery through the Twelve Steps of OA to those who still suffer.”
Why is it important for OA groups to follow the Traditions?
Traditions are the glue that holds us together. They address issues that allow OA to exist and work.
“Developed through long and sometimes painful experience, the Twelve Traditions embody the same principles for living as do the Twelve Steps” (The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 108). The Traditions are the principles of group recovery.