Second Quarter 2019 | Volume 23, Number 2
To better serve our worldwide Fellowship, this translatable web page replaces the interactive, color PDF version of A Step Ahead. To download and print a black-and-white version of the current issue, click the A Step Ahead image at the top right of this page. The last four issues of A Step Ahead will always be available at oa.org/documents under “A Step Ahead Newsletter.”
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“Growing Our Membership Worldwide” is the theme of this year’s World Service Business Conference, scheduled for May 6–11 in Albuquerque, New Mexico USA. The theme supports our Strategic Plan goals for 2019, and Conference workshops will emphasize and focus on the same. Workshops included are:
New delegates and those needing a refresher course can attend “All About Conference” to increase their understanding of parliamentary procedure and other aspects of the business sessions. Parliamentary procedures slideshows are also available for download on the WSBC web page. First-time delegates (called “Green Dots” because they have a green dot on their name badges to indicate that it is their first Conference) may also participate in the Mentor program. They will be matched up with experienced delegates who will support them during Conference and be available to answer questions. This year, the agenda offers an opportunity for Green Dots and Mentors to meet and discuss the Conference.
Region chairs will again host the Forum. This year’s Forum will focus on building the OA Fellowship worldwide. Delegates will consider, discuss, and reflect upon “Each One, Reach One, Every Day— Carrying the Message of Hope.” They will discover how everyone can share and carry their message to newcomers and returnees. We don’t simply carry the message; we are the message! Doing this daily will increase OA membership worldwide.
New Business Motions
Delegates will consider thirteen New Business Motions:
Amendments to OA Bylaws
Delegates will also consider thirteen proposed amendments to OA Bylaws, Subpart B:
Delegates will vote on whether to give the Conference Seal of Approval to new or revised-and-combined literature:
Elections will be held to fill six trustee positions: four region trustees for three-year terms, two region trustees for two-year terms, and one general service trustee position for a three-year term. Nominees are:
Currently, there are two positions open for general service trustee. Having received only one application, the Board of Trustees decided at their March 1, 2019, meeting to not fill the second position for the 2019–2020 term.
All WSBC e-documents are now available for download from the WSBC web page. Conference voting results will be posted to the WSBC web page following the conclusion of Conference and will also be published in the Third Quarter issue of A Step Ahead on July 12, 2019.
If you entered OA at age 30 years old or younger and are interested in giving service as a podcast speaker, sharing your experience, strength, and hope for recovery in OA, fill out our questionnaire. Responses will be reviewed by the OA Young Persons’ and Conference-approved Literature committees, and committee members will contact you to follow up. The questionnaire will remain open until January 31, 2021, but we’re not getting any younger! Please complete the questionnaire right away if you’re eligible.
We need to attract young people to “Grow Our Membership Worldwide.” Sharing the recovery stories of young people, or members who came into OA recovery when they were young, will allow us to attract more compulsive eaters who are under 30 years old to OA. Please consider doing this simple form of service!
— Cyndy L., Chair of the Board, Region Four Trustee
Last year at WSBC and through an article in A Step Ahead, I voiced my concern that OA needed to look at our financial situation and address the fact that we are not increasing our number of groups; our membership numbers have been static for the past ten years. As a result, we’ve had to accept that channeling OA’s resources into anything beyond maintaining our basic needs has been difficult.
When you tend a garden, you must refresh the soil and dig deeper to bring forth healthy crops. For several years, the Board of Trustees has been looking at ways to trim expenditures and finding ways to solve problems with limited funds. One of the solutions along the way was the release of the Twelve Step Workshop and Study Guide. Through reports from other trustees and my own region, I’ve heard that this book is being used in a variety of ways and that new workshops and study groups are cropping up all over. People are finding new ways to work the program and are finding abstinence in the process. The book also brought some relief to our financial situation, like the greening of a lawn after a summer rain, but despite our best efforts, we were still in the negative at the end of 2017.
Like recovery, however, the next miracle for our Fellowship was waiting to happen. All the effort put into the review and revision of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition—the approval by WSBC 2017 and the production work leading up to the book’s February 2018 release—was like having just the right amounts of rain, sun, and warmth, and we were blessed with a bumper crop. In November 2018, we realized we would have at least US$100,000 to spend on new projects to be completed in 2019. Four were selected: improving the navigation and search functions of oa.org; providing additional funding for the International Publications/Translation Committee; providing additional funding for the Public Awareness/Professional Tradeshows Committee; and hiring a special worker to help OA meet the European Union’s legal requirements for General Data Protection Regulation. (This impacts the exchange of data information between the WSO and Region Nine.) At the February Executive Committee meeting, an additional US$70,000 was distributed to the IP/T and PA/PT committees. There is still more available to spend, but decisions on how to spend it remain in the hands of the Board of Trustees.
If you are wondering why we are spending this money so freely, we can look to OA’s prudent reserve policy. Since we have enough money put aside to cover any unexpected expenses, the Executive Committee is tasked with using the money to carry the message to those who still suffer. Each of the projects selected will serve that purpose. When you harvest a crop, you live off the results, sharing it with those in need and paying off any debts that were accumulated during the planting season. That’s what’s happening here.
What I hope each of you will recognize is that a good year is a true blessing, but that we each must continue to prepare for the next year, and the one after that. We must “Grow OA Membership Worldwide” by making others aware of Overeaters Anonymous. We must continue to practice the Seventh Tradition, which tells us to give back to this Fellowship in every way we can. Our financial problems are lessened, but they are not solved. Consider making an Automatic Recurring Contribution directly to the WSO. When the Annual Appeal letter is announced at your meeting, put what you can in the envelope. When your life takes a turn for the better and you are spending less at the vending machine, or the fast food restaurant, think about how that extra contribution will help OA do its important work. Growing our membership and helping others recover from this deadly disease takes contributions. A year of abundance is a time to share the message, and increasing our membership is a way to prevent the next drought.
This is my final report during my term as Chair. The other day a friend asked me if I was looking forward to stepping down from the position. The immediate answer was no—not because I enjoy all the “perks” associated with the position, like writing a report each month, plus two more each quarter, but more because I feel there is so much more to do, and I want to be a part of the process: the work of the trustees and WSO staff, being a part of their time and energy, and getting projects completed so that OA members will have the support they need. I am grateful to have been a part of this team, but I also know that our history of rotation of service means new ideas will come forward and even more will be revealed on our path to the future. In love and service.
— Bonnie L., Treasurer, General Service Trustee
My name is Bonnie, and I am a recovering compulsive overeater. In three weeks, I will rotate out of the Treasurer position to which I have been elected for two years now. It has been a great honor and pleasure to serve the Fellowship in this capacity.
We have just concluded a very solid audit for 2018 with a net income of US$350,089.80. Our auditors referred to our record keeping as “clean, unmodified, and of the highest quality.” In 2018, they also conducted two inventory checks of the World Service Office warehouse. We ended the year in great shape!
This follows the two previous years where we had definite challenges during the budget process. You may recall that in 2016 and 2017 we had deficit budgets. During the budget process for those years, difficult decisions were necessary, and we had to drastically reduce expenses in many areas. For 2018 and 2019, the budget process was less difficult—though never easy. We do our very best to keep costs down wherever possible.
2019 Annual Appeal
In the Service Body Bulletin for April, you will again see our Annual Appeal letter. While this contribution campaign is new to OA, I am familiar with at least two other Twelve Step fellowships who have made similar appeals for many years. This is an opportunity for all members to make a direct contribution to the world service general fund. Please be surethat this letter is read at your local group and circulated with a separate envelope or basket for this contribution only. Last year, your response to this letter resulted in contributions totaling US$23,341.11. I would like to thank everyone who contributed and also those who gave service to keep our members informed of this fresh idea.
Bookstore Sales Taxes
As a result of a recent US Supreme Court decision, the WSO may soon be required to collect sales taxes on purchases made at bookstore.oa.org. We are still investigating proper procedures for our situation, and as we learn more about how this may affect us, we will pass along any updates.
Delegate Support Fund Update
The Delegate Support Fund application has been modified. There are no changes to the qualifications or instructions, but the form itself has some changes that will hopefully help the DSF committee better implement what’s already in place. Many applicants have not been applying first to their regions, so the applications will now be processed through the regions first to ensure this important step is followed. One other change is the reporting of actual delegate expenses, which is to be completed and sent to the WSO within thirty days of Conference, including returning any excess funds. All expenses are to be reported in US dollars.
Suggested Meeting Contribution Increased
In February, the Board of Trustees made a financial decision to change the suggested meeting contribution to US$5 per meeting. The amount had not been updated in about ten years, and our costs, of course, have risen in that time. We want to uphold our Responsibility Pledge by offering all necessary services to our members—always. When our projected income threatens to compromise our ability to carry the message through these services, the budgeting process becomes extremely challenging.
The slogan for contributions is “give as if your life depends on it.” The quality of our lives is clearly improved as we apply the Principles of the Steps and Traditions. I am happy to contribute $5 (still less than a fast food meal these days) for that improved quality of life.
Thank you for a strong 2018 and a good start to 2019.
New Social Media Channel
Find OA’s newest social media presence at instagram.com/overeatersanonymous_official/.
OA Meeting Formats Revised, Plus a Brand New Format
Revisions have been made to many suggested meeting formats, including new welcoming statements and reading options. Plus, our suggested contribution amount has changed to US$5 to maintain our Seventh Tradition.
OA has also released a new meeting format, the Suggested Reading and Writing Meeting Format, which includes two periods of reading, writing, and sharing.
Find the new and revised formats at oa.org/documents under “Meeting Formats.”
Downloadable Twelve Traditions Pamphlet
OA’s Twelve Traditions pamphlet is now available as a free download at oa.org/documents under “Discontinued Literature.” This pamphlet still carries the Conference Seal of Approval. It introduces each Tradition and offers a clear, brief explanation of how each preserves the wellbeing of our groups and organization. As it says on page 1, our Traditions “have been hammered out by hard experience. We find them vital to the growth and life of OA.”
Revised Anorexia and Bulimia Packet
Our Focus on Anorexia and Bulimia packet now has many new stories that show how “OA works for all, no matter where you start.” One bulimic member discovered, “I don’t need an eating disorder to stay at a healthy weight. The Fellowship of OA, Step work, and my Higher Power make this miracle possible” (“Doctor’s Okay,” p. 1). In “Unconditional Love,” an anorexic member confides, “I was so elated and relieved that hope existed for someone like me . . . . Today I have hope. I no longer need to starve or binge, one day at a time” (p. 5).
The International Publications and Translations Committee has had our new newcomer pamphlet Where Do I Start? professionally translated into eight languages to further carry the message into non-English-speaking regions of the world. The available languages are:
To request a translated copy of Where Do I Start? contact the WSO or your region trustee.
The licenses now specify that when translating quotations from AA literature that appear in OA literature, such as quotes from Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th. ed., the translator should rely on existing translations available from AA World Services, Inc. Further, translated OA-literature that contains quotations from AA-literature should also include a separate disclaimer specified by AA World Services, Inc. The language for the disclaimer is provided in Licenses 1 and 2.
For more information about these changes, download the new licenses from oa.org/documents under “Translations” or contact the WSO.
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 US$17,511.68 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, and that means more recovery. Help OA grow in your language. To apply for funds, complete the Translation Assistance Fund application and send it to the WSO. You can download the application from the Literature Translations page. 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 make a designated contribution to help carry our message worldwide, visit oa.org/contribute and select “Translation Fund” in the designation menu.
Q. Regarding the World Service Office Annual Appeal letter, I would like some clarity. I am the world service rep for Houston OA-HOW Intergroup, and we are starting to send the 2019 Annual Appeal envelope around at some of our meetings. My impression is, since this is a Tradition Four “matter affecting OA as a whole,” we are required to do this. So, reading the Appeal letter aloud and sending around a second collection envelope does not require a group conscience? There was some disagreement about it. Can you clarify?
A. Thank you for circulating the 2019 Annual Appeal envelope. Anything coming from the WSO should always be shared with your members. The Appeal is intended to be circulated once every year in the spring. Many groups did not receive Annual Appeal information last spring, so some contributions were still trickling in late in 2018. Contributions are sent directly to the World Service Office and added to OA’s general fund.
We ask that the Appeal letter be read at three consecutive meetings, mainly because some members might miss hearing it if it were done only once.
Thank you very much for carrying the messages from our WSO to your groups. You serve a vital role in our communication.
Q. We would like to start a social media page for our intergroup and link it to our website. What are OA procedures for intergroup social media pages? We want to make sure we follow OA bylaws and Traditions and protect everyone’s anonymity.
A. I am happy to let you know that on the Virtual Region website we have instructions about this, and there is a translatable version too. The document is called How to Create an OA Facebook Page for Public Information. I hope this can help you.
Call for Topics 2020 Send us your topic ideas! What do you want to read about in Lifeline in 2020?
Maintaining Abstinence through Illness Your fellow OA members have asked for stories about maintaining abstinence when illness, whether long- or short-term, is a threat. Give service and hope by sharing your story about staying abstinent during illness, HALT, or a similar challenge.
Saving Grace: Help from a Higher Power How has your Higher Power made its presence known in your life? Was a prayer answered in an unexpected or amusing way? What miracles have happened that led you to believe a Power greater than yourself is available to bring you to your personal recovery?
International Day Experiencing Abstinence and Twelfth Step Within Day Help us celebrate IDEA this November 16–17 and Twelfth Step Within Day on December 12 by sharing your story about one of these important OA events or how abstinence or Twelfth Step Within service has made a difference for you.
Breaking Out of Relapse Give hope and Twelfth Step Within service to OA members in relapse by writing about your relapse and recovery. How did your relapse happen? How did you find your way back to recovery? How did literature or resources on oa.org help?
Surrender and Serenity Surrender is the key to OA recovery, and serenity is the benefit. How did you surrender to a Power greater than yourself? Have you surrendered more than once? How has willingness played a role? How has surrender and willingness helped you choose recovery and self-care? How did you find serenity, and how has it appeared in your life?
Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject “Lifeline.”