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More than 180 delegates gathered in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA, May 6–11 for OA’s 58th annual World Service Business Conference. This year’s delegates hailed from seventeen countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, England, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom (including England and Scotland), and the United States. During Conference, a special Seventh Tradition was collected for OA’s general fund totaling US$6,252. Thank you, delegates, for your contributions!
Workshops and Forum
Workshops and discussions supported this year’s Conference theme, “Growing Our Membership Worldwide.” Workshop titles included:
Delegates participated in an interactive Forum titled “Each One Reach One, Every Day: Carrying the Message of Hope.” The Forum focused on sharing and carrying the message of recovery to newcomers and returnees.
Approved Business Items
Delegates followed parliamentary procedure according to Robert’s Rules of Order, to approve the following literature, New Business Motions, and Bylaws Amendments:
The WSBC 2019 Final Conference Report will be available online in late August. Delegates and service bodies will be notified via email. A list of delegate names and contact information has been emailed directly to delegates.
After 55 years as our “Meeting on the Go,” offering stories of experience, strength, and hope for recovery through OA’s Twelve Steps, Lifeline magazine and its online format, oalifeline.org, will be discontinued at the end of 2020.
Just as magazine subscriptions have progressively taken a back seat to online content and social media, Lifeline subscriptions have steadily declined since peaking at 25,000 subscriptions in 1995. Today, print and online subscriptions number about 5,000 total, serving only 8 percent of our membership at a deficit of approximately US$50,000 per year.
Multi-year subscribers with issues still remaining at the end of 2020 will receive a prorated refund. Information and options will be available at a later date for subscribers whose subscriptions will end in the period from January to October 2020.
OA remains committed to giving members a venue to share their stories of recovery, so a new online successor to Lifeline will be announced at a future date.
Delegates to the World Service Business Conference 2019 cast their votes to elect six region trustees and one general service trustee. Collectively, all nominees brought a breadth of service and recovery to the trustee election, and we thank them for their willingness to serve the Fellowship of Overeaters Anonymous.
When the final votes for trustee elections were tallied, the results were:
There were two GST positions open in 2019, but only one candidate applied, so the Board of Trustees determined at their February BOT meeting that they would not fill the second position for the 2019–2020 term.
Following WSBC, the Board of Trustees elected its officers for 2019–2020. They are:
Board Committee Chairs
In addition, members of the Board of Trustees each accepted assignments to chair board committees as follows:
Conference Committee Cochairs
Conference committees convened and delegates serving in each committee elected a delegate cochair for their committee. Each delegate cochair is partnered with a member of the Board of Trustees. Conference committee cochairs for 2019–2020 are:
Thank you, delegates and trustees, for your service! Together we can!
Keeping contact information up to date is challenging when our members are anonymous, but a small change will make it easier to maintain communication with intergroups and service bodies. Effective since May 2019, registered groups and service bodies must provide the WSO with a “generic” email address (one that is kept by the intergroup or service body itself and not by the member giving service on the group or service body’s behalf). For example, Jane D. of Recovery Intergroup would give the intergroup’s email address, email@example.com, to the World Service Office instead of her own personal email address.
This change will help the WSO maintain communication with a group or service body if a member steps down from service, and will make rotation of service a little easier. It also helps OA comply with the General Data Protection Regulation, the new data privacy law in the European Union, which requires the use of generic contact information for this kind of communication.
— Bonnie L., Chair of the Board, General Service Trustee
We successfully concluded a very busy week in May, when delegates from seventeen countries gathered in Albuquerque for our 58th annual World Service Business Conference. To those who attended and those who helped others through generous contributions to the Delegate Support Fund, thank you. Representation at WSBC is our opportunity to hear and be heard, to share our experience and to learn from others.
New Definition of Abstinence and Recovery
I remember attending my first WSBC, and even today, I continue to feel in awe of the power of our Twelve Traditions at work among us as we reach decisions that will have an impact on our Fellowship in the years to come. One such decision was to revise our Statement on Abstinence and Recovery policy (see the story below), which affects every OA member in our Fellowship and every newcomer who enters our rooms.
Give Service to Grow OA
Our theme for this year’s conference was “Growing Our Membership Worldwide.” As we continue to translate literature to languages other than English, we work toward that growth. Virtual meetings can bridge the gap of borders, languages, and time zones and reach out very literally around the world.
We often hear of the importance of service to OA. On a personal level, one of my greatest honors in service is as a sponsor, and as sponsors, together we can help grow OA. Sponsors are called to share our own experience, to help another in their personal recovery, and to mentor others to carry on in service to others. Think of those whom you have sponsored. Do they pay it forward? Do they sponsor others? Are they active in the group, the intergroup, the region, and the various service boards?
News in Our Literature Landscape
The Board of Trustees met before the start of WSBC, and one of the decisions reached involves Lifeline magazine, which has operated at a loss for many years now. The time has come to end Lifeline as we’ve known it; however, this will not affect your opportunity to share and exchange stories, because we have also directed the World Service Office to research alternative electronic methods for OA members to share their stories. Members with questions or comments about the discontinuing of Lifeline should direct them to their region chair.
A new publication, Body Image, Relationships and Sexuality, was also approved at WSBC 2019, and with it comes an opportunity for you to contribute. We want creative ideas from members for the publication’s cover art, and anyone who has a concept (we do not need a drawing or mockup; even a written idea will do) is encouraged to submit their suggestion. For details see the flyer at the end of this issue of A Step Ahead. The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2019.
I am looking forward to the year ahead, and I am grateful for the reminders that I am not alone. I’m one part of a team, a network of trusted servants, dedicated staff, and members at-large working together for the good of OA.
OA recently approved a new statement to better define abstinence and recovery. The statement reads:
“The WSBC 2019 accepts the following definitions:
Spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is achieved through working and living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve Step program.”
OA’s newest book will be titled Body Image, Relationships, and Sexuality: Personal Journeys to Recovery in Overeaters Anonymous. We already have great stories from members that have the Conference Seal of Approval, but we’re stumped about the cover design. So, we want you to send a creative idea that will interpret and inspire an attractive cover for the book. You can send us a written idea, a drawing, or both! This call for ideas is not a contest and submissions will not be judged. To send your concept, read the flyer attached to this issue of A Step Ahead and complete and send the release form along with your idea by July 31, 2019. Thank you for your service!
— Cyndy L., Treasurer, Region Four Chair
Have you noticed the suggested contribution at your meeting has gone up from three to five US dollars? As Treasurer, I’ve received a couple of inquiries about this change. I would like to explain how this was decided, why the increase is necessary to maintain our Seventh Tradition, and to offer you my perspective.
Concept Six—OA’s Board of Trustees
The Sixth Concept of OA Service reads: “The World Service Business Conference has entrusted the Board of Trustees with the primary responsibility for the administration of Overeaters Anonymous.”
The decision to increase the suggested meeting contribution was made in February 2019 by the Board of Trustees. After they approved this increase, it was added to the suggested meeting format used by your group.
Tradition Eight Affects Tradition Seven
As far back as the 1970 WSBC, a time when all administrative functions of the WSO were performed by volunteers, there was discussion about the fact that member contributions were not enough to sustain the work carried out by the WSO. In those days, OA did not suggest a contribution amount. So, the Board of Trustees decided they were going to be brave and added a suggested contribution of one dollar for members attending meetings.
By 1975, OA had grown large enough to secure commercial office space for the WSO and hire a manager and staff. The changes were possible because there was both an increase in income from larger contributions and growth in our membership and number of meetings. Today, OA owns an office/warehouse facility that houses the WSO and maintains a staff of fifteen special workers to carry on the support needed to serve the Fellowship and carry the message.
Practicing Tradition Five Today
One US dollar in 1970 is equivalent to $6.59 today, but inflation is not the only reason for increasing the suggested contribution to five dollars. OA’s rapid growth since the 1970s has finally cooled. Our statistics and surveys show that we have maintained a level membership base for the past ten years, and this cooling has caught up with the world service budget. The board has responded already by implementing many cost-saving initiatives and working carefully with the WSO managers to reduce expenditures. Trustees have worked to spread awareness of our Seventh Tradition needs among the Fellowship by publishing articles in A Step Ahead and submitting reports to WSBC delegates. But, even with these efforts, we are only making ends meet.
The WSO is here to carry the message in ways that our other service bodies cannot. With your contributions, the WSO is not only expected to support the current Fellowship but also to raise awareness so those who still suffer can find OA when they are ready. These endeavors cost money and are more reliant on technology than they were even a decade ago, when the suggested meeting contribution was last increased to three dollars. The Board of Trustees and WSO staff do their best to use available low-cost methods to achieve our goals, but there is more to be done. So, for example, the recent surplus of funds from the sale of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition is not being saved for a rainy day but instead is being invested in projects that will carry the message: an updated website, ads on social media, research into a new digital platform for members to share their stories, professional translators to help in countries where groups are small and such work is difficult to achieve by volunteers alone. All are ways to fulfill OA’s primary purpose, with an eye toward growing our Fellowship worldwide.
While five dollars may not be possible for all our members, it may be possible for some, and what better place to share your generosity? Your contributions not only support your group but are also passed on to support all service levels. Each level will benefit from an overall increase in contributions.
I read somewhere that true humility is asking for what you need. OA needs to thrive, and we need you to help. Thank you.
The WSO wants to hear from you! Update your group’s meeting details by going to Edit a Meeting at oa.org. The WSO uses the information you provide to keep Find a Meeting current so that members in recovery and still-suffering compulsive eaters can locate a meeting in their area
The Professional Exhibits Fund has over US$16,000 available to help your service body participate in a trade conference or a convention for professionals who may refer patients and clients to OA. Take a look at the application to see what expenses OA funds can help cover. Applications are reviewed monthly, so talk to your service body about local opportunities and apply! Find the application at oa.org/ documents under “Public Information Suggestions.”
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 Guidelines for Translation of OA Literature and Materials on the Groups/Service Bodies “Guidelines” page.
To contribute to the fund, visit oa.org/contribute and select “Translation Fund” in the designation menu.
Pamphlet for Referring Professionals
Use OA’s new pamphlet, When Should I Refer Someone to Overeaters Anonymous? To Members of the Helping Professions (#770), to reach out to referring professionals, such as doctors, therapists, dietitians, teachers, and clergy. The pamphlet answers questions about OA, explains how OA complements professional care, and includes OA’s Fifteen Questions. Find it at bookstore.oa.org.
Focus on Anorexia and Bulimia Packet Updated
Providing hope and a solution through OA’s Twelve Steps, this packet has been refreshed with new stories from Lifeline magazine and includes the pamphlets OA Members Come in All Sizes and Many Symptoms, One Solution. Find the packet (item #725) at bookstore.oa.org.
WSBC 2017 Forum Podcasts
Nine podcast recordings featuring eighteen speakers from the WSBC 2017 Forum, “Passport to Unity,” are now available for download. Find them at oa.org/podcasts.
Better Search on OA.org
OA has integrated Google Custom Search functionality into the OA website, oa.org, which should make searching the website more accurate and helpful to site visitors. This feature is free to US nonprofits that apply, and WSBC 2019 delegates approved submitting an application.
Suggested Reading and Writing Meeting Format
Our newest meeting format, the Suggested Reading and Writing Meeting Format focuses on reading OA-approved literature, writing, and then sharing what was written. If you haven’t tried a reading and writing meeting, start here! Find the format at oa.org/documents under “Meeting Formats.”
New Social Media Channel
Get inspiration and share information about OA at https://www.instagram.com/overeatersanonymous_official/
OA’s new Statement on Public and Social Media, approved at WSBC 2019, states that members, groups, and service bodies each have a role in protecting anonymity.
The new statement reads:
“While Overeaters Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues, including social media, the delegates of the 2019 World Service Business Conference recommend that any OA member, group, or service body using social media for OA public information and public awareness maintain the personal anonymity of OA members.
“Members of Overeaters Anonymous are anonymous. The Fellowship is not. Members of Overeaters Anonymous are responsible for maintaining their anonymity and respecting the anonymity of other OA members. When attending an OA meeting, whether face-to-face or virtual, members are encouraged to seek appropriate means to protect their own anonymity and that of fellow members.
“All registered virtual meetings shall inform members that their anonymity is not fully protected when attending a virtual meeting.
“Find options for protecting anonymity at Guidelines for Anonymity in the Digital World.”
Find the Guidelines for Anonymity at oa.org/documents under “Guidelines.”
Q. How can an OA member distinguish between literature ordered on Amazon for which OA receives a royalty from that which it does not?
A. One way to tell it is our account is that the author is listed as “Overeaters Anonymous,” and the link for the author is clickable and takes you to a page with all of OA’s offerings. If the author link is not clickable, then it’s a reseller, and we won’t receive a royalty. You can also tell it’s a reseller because a field will appear that says, “Seller Information,” and the seller will be someone other than OA.
Here are shortened links to all OA literature sold by OA on third-party websites for which OA receives a royalty share:
Q. Help, please! I am supposedly the temporary chair for my intergroup. We have several vacant positions, including chair, vice chair, region rep, and world service rep. I have been the chair for two years already. I have asked several people and no one is interested in taking over. Can I ask for volunteers to lead the intergroup meeting before we start to just let go? I just don’t know what else to do.
A. Thank you for reaching out and for filling me in on the details of the situation. Your intergroup is small, your local membership has dropped in recent years, and a couple of your meetings have closed. While this may be part of the issue, it is not uncommon for intergroups to go through cycles, just as meetings sometimes do. Sometimes when there are not enough qualified people to fill service positions, it is prudent to prioritize what is really needed to keep the intergroup functioning and what can be let go of for a time.
One idea is to create an intergroup meeting format and ask different members to chair the intergroup for one meeting. This is a way for people to try out a position, and can also work for the secretary position and other positions. Many meetings I attend have a calendar that is passed so that people can sign up to lead the meeting for a week. Sharing responsibility helps everyone feel more “a part of.”
People are generally more willing to serve when asked directly. Early in my recovery sponsors, used to tell us, “If someone asks you to do service and you don’t have a solid reason to refuse, do it.” I’m not sure people hear this from sponsors now, so ask members who are sponsors to speak to their sponsees who are qualified about doing service beyond the group level.
It’s a good idea to announce the open service positions at your meetings and invite people who don’t normally attend the intergroup meeting to come and find out how it works. It’s also good to remind people that they don’t already have to know how to do the job perfectly. We learn by practicing. Perhaps there are seasoned members who would be willing to be “service sponsors” to newer people willing to step up.
OA’s Intergroup or Service Board Inventory and Suggestions for Starting an Intergroup/ Service Board may also help you find ways to strengthen your intergroup. Find these documents at oa.org/documents under “Service Body Support.”
I also encourage you to contact your region steering committee and your region trustee who can present our “Service, Traditions, and Concepts” workshop to members in your area. This workshop is usually four to five hours in length and explains how important service is to our recovery and the Fellowship of OA as a whole. It also explains the OA service structure and how our Traditions keep our groups healthy.
How OA Changed My Life
Describe life before and after being in OA and share your threefold recovery.
My OA Birthday
OA’s 60th birthday will be celebrated January 18–19, 2020. Share about your OA birthday—what it took to reach this milestone and its signifcance for you.
NEW! Focus on the Footwork, Bits and Bites, Living Traditions (Tradition One), Newcomers Corner, Step Study (Step One), Share It
Unity Day is Saturday, February 29, 2020, at 11:30 a.m. local time. How has unity with diversity, Tradition One, or a Unity Day event boosted your recovery?
Many Symptoms of Our Disease
OA offers recovery from anorexia, bulimia, overexercising, and other problem behaviors beyond compulsive overeating. If you’ve identified with behaviors such as these or have switched from one form of the disease to another, what are the challenges and solutions you’ve found in OA? What has worked, what’s been difficult, and where have you found support?
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?
NEW! Focus on the Footwork, Bits and Bites, Living Traditions (Tradition Two), Step Study (Step Two), Share It, The Spiritual Path
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with subject “Lifeline.”