Fourth Quarter 2019 | Volume 23, Number 4
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World Service Business Conference 2020 will convene April 20–25, 2020, in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA. Nearly two hundred delegates representing the group conscience of OA worldwide will gather to conduct the business of OA and participate in this year’s theme: “OA Celebrates 60 Years! Looking to the Future!”
This year establishes a new structure to the Conference schedule: board meetings will be held April 20–21, delegate registration will open Tuesday, April 21, and Conference will officially begin with the Literature Q&A on Wednesday, April 22.
The First Conference e-Documents are now posted on the WSBC web page and include a message from the chair, the tentative agenda, the delegate registration form and instructions, the trustee application form and instructions, and sample New Business Motion and Bylaw Amendment forms. The delegate registration form and the trustee application are interactive PDFs. Please download these documents, type directly into the PDF, save the PDF document, and email the document with signatures or print and mail a copy to the World Service Office.
In addition, the WSBC 2019 Final Conference Report is posted on the WSBC web page.
Trustee Positions Available
Are you or is someone you know interested in running for a trustee position? The following positions are open for 2020 elections:
WSBC 2020 will be held again at the Embassy Suites Albuquerque Hotel and Spa. The lodging rate is US$143 per night (single through quadruple occupancy), plus US$19.85 tax (tax rate is subject to change) for a total of US$162.85 per night. This rate includes a two-room suite, breakfast, refrigerator, microwave, internet (lodging room only), and access to evening dinner shuttles from Tuesday through Friday. The reservation deadline is April 5, 2020. To make a reservation, click the online link found on the WSBC web page or call the hotel directly at 1-505-245-7100. Use Group Code “OEA” to receive our special room rate, which is available from April 16 to April 29, 2020.
— Dora P., Virtual Region Trustee
Imagine if 40 percent of all groups in your OA region were not affiliated with an intergroup or service board in your region. How would it affect the strength of those groups? How would it affect group conscience and service beyond the group level?
This is the case today with Virtual Region. About 40 percent of OA’s 612 virtual groups are not affiliated with a virtual intergroup. Language and geographic barriers, including differences in time zones, are the main reasons. Some virtual groups have chosen, as permitted in OA’s Bylaws, to affiliate with land-based service boards that share a common language or geographic area.
While it is wonderful that virtual OA meetings have sprouted in so many places, the fact that 40 percent of OA’s virtual meetings have evolved outside of Virtual Region has likely affected the strength of these meetings (because virtual meetings have specific challenges and needs) and weakened Virtual Region’s group conscience (since unaffiliated meetings have not been permitted to vote in Virtual Region Assembly).
New Option to Participate in Any Service Board
To solve this problem, WSBC 2019 delegates modified OA’s Bylaws to allow an OA group to participate and vote(!) in any number of other OA service boards when permission is given by those service boards. This means that all virtual groups can participate in and vote on Virtual Region business, even if they are not affiliated with a virtual intergroup. (The rule for affiliation remains unchanged: virtual groups, like any other OA group, may affiliate with only one OA service body.)
I would like to give an example how this can work very well. In my country, Brazil, we speak Portuguese. We have three virtual intergroups and more than forty virtual meetings. Naturally, these virtual meetings are affiliated with the virtual intergroups. But, the virtual groups also have a natural identification with the Brazilian OA National Service Board, and members attend both face-to-face and virtual meetings. This year, our national service board invited to our assembly both virtual and face-to-face groups, who worked together. And at the virtual intergroup level, one virtual intergroup decided that their Seventh Tradition should be split between Virtual Region and our national service board. How wonderful it is that our Bylaws contribute to the unity in all this diversity!
Join Virtual Region
If you belong to a virtual group that is affiliated with a land-based intergroup, I want to invite you to attend Virtual Region’s virtual workshops and to give service on our virtual committees. Your participation is now possible and most welcome!
If you belong to a virtual group that is not affiliated with any service board, I encourage you to write us at oavirtualregion.org/contactus so that we can help you form or join a virtual intergroup and include you in voting on Virtual Region business.
We are also looking at adding virtual intergroup pages to our website and your meeting can be listed on an intergroup page. Let’s grow virtual OA together!
This important change for virtual OA illustrates something that I am learning in recovery: We don’t need to be alone. We can work together, we can have autonomy, we can keep it simple. We are a worldwide Fellowship, reaching out our hands to work together and recover together. Thank God for the opportunity to live this way!
— Bonnie L., Chair of the Board, General Service Trustee
It’s a great pleasure to see the work being done on all of our committees and by delegates around the globe. We have many dedicated members working together on a wide variety of projects. I appreciate reading the reports and watching the progress.
World Service Business Conference 2020
The First Conference e-Documents are now online for World Service Business Conference 2020. This will be our fifty-ninth annual Conference with a theme of “OA Celebrates 60 Years! Looking to the Future!” We will be at the Embassy Suites again, April 22–25, 2020. In 2019, we had seventeen countries represented. It’s always interesting to meet members from other regions or countries and hear the Serenity Prayer in many languages.
2020 World Service Convention
Plans are also well underway for our 2020 World Service Convention in Orlando. The theme for Convention is “Sunshine of the Spirit: 60 Years Around the Sun!” This is a wonderful opportunity for worldwide fellowship. It’s a time to enjoy workshops, listen to speakers, renew past friendships, and begin some new ones. Mark August 20–22, 2020 on your calendars and look for registration to open in January.
Replacement for Lifeline Magazine
Most members are aware that OA will cease publication of Lifeline, both in print and online, as of December 31, 2020. I look forward to seeing what the “next generation” will be when the WSO launches the new option for us in 2021 to share our experience, strength, and hope in a new digital format.
New Body Image Publication
There is much anticipation about our new publication, Body Image, Relationships, and Sexuality, which was approved at WSBC 2019. We do not yet have a release date but will post that information as soon as it is available. Our WSO staff is hard at work on this exciting new book.
It is very true: together we can do what we could never do alone.
What’s it like to celebrate recovery with more than a thousand OA members? Experience it for yourself from August 20–22, 2020, by joining us for our World Service Convention in Orlando, Florida USA. Together, we will unite in fun and fellowship and celebrate the “Sunshine of the Spirit: 60 Years Around the Sun!”
The 2020 Convention will be held at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. Room reservations and Convention registration will open in January 2020. Speaker and volunteer opportunities will be included on the registration form, which will be posted on the World Service Convention web page at oa.org.
OA members can sign up today to join the Convention email list and receive informative updates. To join, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your full name, email address, and US state or country of origin. Your information will be kept confidential by the World Service Office. You may also write to this email address with any questions you have about Convention.
Don’t miss this opportunity to strengthen your program and your friendships!
— Cyndy L., Treasurer, Region Four Trustee
As the end of the year approaches, the World Service Office and the Board of Trustees will move through OA’s annual budget process to develop a budget for 2020. This year will be no different than any other, as we give our full consideration and care in planning how to best utilize our funds.
Our primary purpose as the Fellowship of Overeaters Anonymous is to carry the message to those who still suffer. Raising money is not our purpose. But, having a steady stream of income that allows our WSO and BOT to focus on the work at hand without worry of financial insecurity is a lovely position to be in. I want to share my gratitude with all of you for our current financial position, and I want to thank you for helping us get here and for your continued support in the future.
Together, we’ve made many changes over the past two years to move us in a more secure direction. Higher Power has shown us ways to reduce our spending and has opened us to new experiences, so this year, we are blessed with an abundance that is allowing us to accomplish projects and raise awareness of OA throughout the world in ways that we were not able to consider before. The enthusiasm being generated as these projects come to life demonstrates the freedom that having enough income can bring.
In my role as treasurer, I hear members ask, “What does the WSO do?” and I am always amazed that they don’t already know. (That’s because I’ve been involved in service for so many years.) Our Seventh Tradition of OA pamphlet includes this list:
This valuable work is what your contributions support, in addition to supporting the work of your local and regional service bodies. Every penny put in the meeting basket is there to help carry the message. The BOT takes this responsibility very seriously. During the current budget planning process and throughout the year to come, they will do their best to ensure the financial stability of OA. Thank you.
— Pat O., Professional Tradeshows and Public Awareness Chair, Region One Trustee
A notice from the Professional Tradeshows and Public Awareness Committee: there is money being left on the table for professional outreach!
Our generous and caring members have grown the Professional Exhibits Fund to more than US$13,500. Wonderful! Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and put it to work. Here’s how: Use your favorite online search engine to look for opportunities in your area. Look up professional organizations for medical professionals, nutritionists, dietitians, physical therapists, mental health counselors, and therapists. Next, check their calendars for conferences and annual conventions—some are statewide, province wide, national, or international. If you see that they are coming to a town near you, inquire about their nonprofit exhibit fees. Start putting together a team of motivated and recovering OA members to work the OA booth.
You can also start applying for funding by using the Professional Exhibits Fund application form found at oa.org/documents under “Public Information Suggestions.” As part of your application, you can cover the cost of standard banners, retractable banner signs, handout materials for the table, exhibit fees, and other expenses, such as volunteer parking, fees, and meals while they are working
This is the Twelfth Step in action! Thank you for your service.
— Vasilki T., Region Nine Trustee, and Sarah Armstrong., World Service Office Managing Director
In recent months, the International Publications and Translations Committee has used US$6,202.74 in special funds designated by the Executive Committee of OA Board of Trustees to pay for professional translation of OA’s new Where Do I Start? pamphlet into Zulu, Serbian, and Mongolian. This pamphlet provides a thorough introduction to our Twelve Step program of recovery.
Zulu: 11.5 Million
Of the eleven official languages of South Africa, Zulu is the most widely spoken. However, the thirteen OA meetings in Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province, are primarily English speaking. Consequently, most of Gauteng Intergroup’s members speak English, and only a few speak Zulu.
About four years ago, the intergroup advertised in a province on the eastern side of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal. Almost immediately, the intergroup was overwhelmed by calls from compulsive overeaters living in both rural and urban areas, and unfortunately, the language barrier between the volunteers answering the phone and the non-English-speaking callers was immense. One volunteer used online translation tools to communicate bits and pieces of our program, hoping to reach out in a meaningful way to these fellow South Africans in need.
The obvious interest expressed by Zulu speakers in this region has given high priority to translating OA-approved literature into Zulu. So earlier this year, OA spent US$2,247.37 for professional translation of Where Do I Start? Today, OA has two meetings in KwaZulu-Natal province, and this pamphlet brings the basics of the OA program to the many compulsive eaters everywhere in South Africa who speak Zulu as their primary language.
Serbian: Twenty-Four Million
In May 2019, the first OA group in Serbia was registered in Belgrade, the capital city. Three members, all non-English speakers, began with AA resources in Serbian and then contacted the OA Region Nine trustee about securing funding for an OA web page in Serbian. Collaboration with trustees produced enough financial help to cover the US$60 needed for this project, and the group was able to create a social media page that got them a fourth member.
Soon after the group’s registration, the International Publication and Translation Committee spent US$1,708.00 to translate the group’s first OA pamphlet, Where Do I Start?, into Serbian. The pamphlet not only reachs compulsive eaters living in Serbia but also those in neighboring countries where Serbian is a common language, including Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia. Moreover, overweight and obesity affects half the population in Serbia, and that figure is projected to rise.
Mongolian: 3.6 Million
The World Service Office maintains OA’s social media page at facebook.com/overeatersanonymousofficial. In 2017, they received via the page a message in an unfamiliar language and, using an online translation tool, discovered it was from a Mongolian-speaking compulsive eater. This began what is now a two-year relationship. The initial conversations, however, were brief, since online translation tools for Mongolian are relatively weak, and communication broke down after three exchanges.
At the time, OA had no meetings in Mongolia and no literature available in Mongolian. But here were at least two people in Mongolia interested in starting a meeting (one was familiar with Twelve Step programs). WSO staff tried to connect them to groups in neighboring China, but those meetings were English-speaking.
So when the Executive Committee voted earlier this year to set aside surplus funds for the express purpose of translating Where Do I Start? into languages where there is not a strong translation board, WSO staff approached the International Publications and Translation Committee about the possibility of spending US$2,247.37 to offer these members in Mongolia some material in their own language.
Now, these two struggling members actually have a tool to start the Overeaters Anonymous program of recovery in their country.
Through your contributions as members of Overeaters Anonymous, you have continued to serve the primary purpose of OA by carrying the message to the compulsive overeater who still suffers. Zulu-, Serbian-, Mongolian- speaking members express their gratitude to the OA service structure for giving them the first piece of OA literature in their respective languages. Together, you have saved lives! Ngiyabonga! Хвала вам! Өршөөгөөрэй!
OA Handbook Revised; Downloadable Only
Answer your questions about how the various parts of OA work together in the OA Handbook for Members, Groups, and Service Bodies (#120), which has been edited and updated and is now available for US$1. Fresh sections include: new definitions of abstinence and recovery, details about OA’s social media policies, and our updated service pyramid. Find it at bookstore.oa.org under “Digital Products.”
Revised Seventh Tradition of OA Pamphlet
In keeping with the recent Board of Trustees decision to increase the suggested contribution from US$3 to US$5, we have updated our free-to-download Seventh Tradition of OA pamphlet (#802DD), available both at oa.org/documents under “Group Treasurer Materials” and at bookstore.oa.org. Share this updated pamphlet at your next meeting, so that your fellow members may better understand OA’s Tradition of self- support through our own contributions.
Important Updates to Suggested Meeting Formats
Give newcomers a clear understanding of our Twelve Step solution by reading the new defini- tions of “abstinence” and “recovery” at your meetings from the updated Suggested Meeting Format. Find and download all of OA’s suggested meeting formats, also updated with the suggested contribution of US$5, at oa.org/documents under “Meeting Formats.”
Revised: Strong Meeting Checklist and Group Inventory
The Strong Meeting Checklist and Group Inventory have been updated to include the question “Is the meeting safe for all members?” Other questions have been rewritten and reordered for clarity. Use these documents to foster a focused and supportive environment at your upcoming meetings. Find them at oa.org/ documents under “Group Support.”
Professional Presentation Folder Updated
In order to better carry the message to professional communities, the Professional Presentation Folder now includes our new pamphlet, When Should I Refer Someone to OA? (#770), which combines the most relevant information of the previous pamphlets, Introducing OA to Health Care Professionals and Introducing OA to the Clergy. Order this useful compilation from the OA bookstore for US$3.50.
Price Reduction for Questions and Answers Pamphlet
OA’s Questions and Answers pamphlet (#170) has been reduced in price from US$.85 to US$.30. This pamphlet answers the most basic questions about OA, including definitions of important and frequently used vocabulary, what it means to become a member, and a summary of our program. Order it from bookstore.oa.org.
If you are a current Lifeline subscriber and your subscription is scheduled to end sometime in 2020, you will be able to purchase a special prorated renewal to continue receiving Lifeline until the final issue is published. If you paid for a multi-year subscription, and you have issues remaining at the end of 2020, you will be offered a prorated refund or you may leave that money with the World Service Office as a contribution to the general fund. Lifetime subscriptions will end with the cessation of publication.
To subcribe, go to oa.org/lifeline or see the subscription form at the end of this newsletter.
— Dora P., Virtual Region Trustee
Sometimes I receive emails asking why a virtual meeting should receive financial contributions if the meeting is conducted via internet and each member who attends a meeting already spends money for their computer or their internet bill. This makes me smile because I thought the same thing when I was new in OA and heard about the Seventh Tradition at my virtual meetings. I thought about it and decided I would give service but not money.
What I’ve learned since is that OA’s Virtual Region needs my service, but it needs my financial contribution too.
Where does Virtual Region spend money? We need a virtual room for our meetings and assemblies. We maintain a website to support our six hundred virtual meetings the best we can. We send our region chair to World Service Business Conference, where we participate in OA’s group conscience and vote on motions that affect virtual OA as part of OA as a whole. Besides, how will Virtual Region have delegates at WSBC if we don’t have money to send them? (And we really need to send delegates from virtual intergroups.)
Virtual Region wants to help virtual groups and intergroups become stronger and carry the message as best we can, and that is why the Virtual Region needs your help. Contact us at virtualregion.org/contactus to ask about ways to contribute service, and make a contribution online or by mail or at oavirtualregion.org/region/seventh-tradition.
Help Virtual Region become stronger!
Q. On behalf of our monthly speaker meeting, I am inquiring as to what OA’s stand is regarding giving the name of upcoming speaker, seeing as other fellowships are quite free with sharing names.
A. Thank you for your question. In Guidelines for OA Events, which is available at oa.org/guidelines/guidelines-for-oa-events, it states, “Refrain from printing the names or non-OA titles of speakers and leaders at OA events in all information materials. OA service titles (but not names) may be used when a speaker or leader is performing the service responsibility of his or her OA office (Traditions Six and Eight and OA Policy 1990).” Therefore, it is the general custom in OA not to publicize the names of speakers, whether it is for a monthly speaker meeting, an OA retreat, or an OA convention. We do not like to make stars or VIPs out of any OA members. Our experience shows that this is not good for the member individually, and it is not good for OA as a whole. Please refer to Tradition Twelve in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Second Edition, for more on this topic. While your question mainly applies to a local meeting that has a speaker once a month, the Fellowship has found that it is not good for our recovery to focus on “personalities over principles.”
Having said this, I will also say that this is an area where many groups choose to put group autonomy (Tradition Four) first. When they do this, we ask that they use only the first name of the speaker.
I personally love speaker meetings. One of the most exciting parts for me is in not knowing who the speaker is ahead of time. That way, I just trust that my Higher Power will be guiding me to the message I need to hear. I will also share that when I was asked to be a keynote speaker at an OA convention, I felt some pressure to “give a good performance” because it was announced that I was to be speaking. This made me more nervous than I might otherwise have been. I would have preferred anonymity, but I let that group conscience prevail. I realize others have the opposite response and enjoy performing. So, maybe another part of your decision might be to ask the speaker if and how they would want their identity revealed. Our Step Seven Principle of humility suggests that we are neither above nor below any other member of the Fellowship.
Please consider all of these ideas carefully in deciding how your group will handle this issue.
Q. One of my area’s meetings, which has been a healthy meeting for a long time, is now experiencing difficulties due to a returning member who was apparently a founding member of the group many years ago. This member presents herself as one of the program’s success stories, yet her behavior suggests she is still struggling. I (and others, I think) experience her as bossy, controlling, and intimidating. The group has made sure to include her, but she takes offense easily, and in one share, she accused the group of being exclusive and unwelcoming. I’ve noticed this month that many regulars are not attending, and I fear there is a real possibility of a good meeting folding.
How can I help our meeting get back on track without discussing this person in an inappropriate way with other members? One thought that occurs is to call a group conscience meeting on the length and content of shares.
A. I am glad that you reached out to look for ways to improve a tough situation. It will probably not surprise you to know you are not alone. Similar situations have arisen before, which is why OA has published Guidelines for Addressing Disruptive Behavior Affecting Overeaters Anonymous Meetings. You can find this document at oa.org: open the website menu, click “Groups/Service Bodies,” and then click “OA Guidelines.”
I particularly like the solution you proposed, and I do indeed think it is time to hold a group conscience on guidelines for the group that safeguard everyone’s chance to share and recover. The wonderful thing about holding a group conscience is many fine ideas for how to make the meeting work better for everyone may result. Plus, all should take part and in that way be a part of the solution together.
Help strengthen OA’s worldwide group conscience at WSBC 2020 by making a contribution to the Delegate Support Fund. Applications for funding will be reviewed in November, so now is your chance to add to the fund and support delegate attendance at World Service Business Conference.
It is critically important for the strength of OA worldwide that the voice of OA’s entire community be heard at Conference. Decisions affecting OA for years to come are made each year at WSBC, and input is needed from all service bodies to truly represent OA as a whole.
To contribute, go to oa.org/contribute and select “Delegate Support Fund” from the “Designation” drop-down menu.
Money is available to help translate OA literature into other languages. More literature means more meetings and a growing Fellowship. Help OA grow in your language. Complete the Translation Assistance Fund application and send it to the WSO. You can download the application from the Literature Translations page found via oa.org/site-map. To receive funds, recipients will need to create a PayPal account.
To learn more about OA’s translation policies, see Translation Guidelines for OA Literature on the Groups/Service Bodies “Guidelines” page.
To contribute, visit oa.org/contribute and select “Translation Fund” in the designation drop-down menu.
Making an Action Plan
What are the details of your action plan, and how did it evolve? How do you stick to your action plan? What role does it play in your recovery? What lessons have you learned from your action plan? Action plan photos welcome!
Abstinence and Recovery
OA defines abstinence as “the act of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight.” Recovery is “removal of the need to engage in compulsive eating behaviors,” and “spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is achieved through working and living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve Step program.” Share your experience, strength, and hope about gaining abstinence and recovery in OA.
Facing Criticism in Recovery
Members want to know: What helped you stay in the solution when you were judged for belonging to OA? Or for weighing and measuring your food? How have you handled criticism from other members for oversharing at a meeting, the way you gave service, or another issue?
Focus on the Footwork (New!), Bits and Bites, Living Traditions (Tradition Three), Newcomers Corner, Step Study (Step Three), Share It
Breaking and Mending Relationships
How has your recovery impacted your relationships? How have you explained OA to loved ones and sought support? What about “dating, divorce, and drama” in your OA journey? Or the effect of a relapse? How have you applied the Principles and Traditions in your relationships?
Service Beyond the Comfort Zone
How has service played a part in your recovery? How has it helped you grow out of your comfort zone? How have you grown by taking a challenging service position or attending meetings and events outside your home area? How has rotation of service played a role in your recovery and the health of your local OA?
Focus on the Footwork (New!), Bits and Bites, Living Traditions (Tradition Four), Step Study (Step Four), Share It, The Spiritual Path
Great Ways to Carry the Message
Share your success! How did you educate a referring professional? Or attract a compulsive eater? How did you work a public information campaign? What OA resources did you use? How did it benefit your own recovery? How have you practiced Tradition Eleven online, in your own life, and in your community?
Using a Plan of Eating
Start to finish, how did you develop your plan of eating? Who helped you and why was getting help important? How have changes in your health and lifestyle factored in? What has helped you stick to your plan, and what do you do when compulsive thoughts and urges arise?
Focus on the Footwork (New!), Bits and Bites, Living Traditions (Traditions Five and Six), Newcomers Corner, Step Study (Steps Five and Six), Share It
See the flyer at the end of this issue of A Step Ahead for all 2020 topics and deadlines. Or download it from oa.org/documents under “Lifeline Magazine.”
Send your story to email@example.com with subject “Lifeline.”