Guidelines for a Group Conscience Meeting

a group of people sitting outside

Last Updated on 19 February 2023

12 Step groups hold meetings to determine how to best run the meetings, spend funds, organise events, and deal with issues that affect the group or the wider fellowship. These meetings allow members to work together to consider and agree on how best to proceed in the interests of SLAA.

These meetings are conducted by group conscience. Group conscience is about the unique ways individuals are inspired to agree on the best decisions for SLAA.

In The Twelve Concepts of SLAA Service, Concept One notes the need to reach an informed group conscience. Our Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts of SLAA are the basis for much of our decision-making and the primary means by which we reach an informed group conscience. We should also note the history of the group, what other groups have done in similar situations, and any other background or local traditions that may be useful to know. When we cannot decide what approach to take, it is always prudent to look first at the Traditions and Concepts.

Group conscience demands accepting that our own views are just that — our own views — and listening with an open mind and heart to the views of others. We are prepared to see things differently and to adjust our perception and yield to the group conscience to arrive at a consensus.

Not all our group decisions will be wise and practical. We do make mistakes sometimes and must look for better answers to a problem. Another group conscience vote can be taken when something needs to be corrected. Like individuals, SLAA groups learn from their mistakes — and so does the whole fellowship. We find that our Higher Power often leads us through our blunders.

To minimise mistakes, it’s important that every voting member be fully informed and understand all relevant facts before voting. Behind all this lies Tradition Two: “For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as God may be expressed in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.”

  • Each of us is responsible to be as free of our own bias so we may be open to the good of the whole. The same spirit of selflessness applies regardless of the size of the group.
  • Groups often hold group conscience meetings before or after their regular meetings. Groups may set a regular schedule for these meetings, or any member of the group may call for a meeting.
  • Providing notice of the meeting and agenda topics one or two weeks in advance is a good idea so those attending may have time to think about the items, read background material, and find relevant information when appropriate.

In some meetings, all persons attending may vote; other meetings might restrict voting privileges to regular attendees. While some steering committee meetings might restrict voting on routine matters, such as paying bills, to those who meet the committee’s sobriety requirements, all group members vote on matters of major importance, such as format and sobriety requirements for speakers and officers.

Most members have a special affinity for one group and consider it their home group, where they accept responsibilities and try to sustain friendships. Members are encouraged not to meddle in the business or policies of groups that they visit only occasionally, or where they do not accept service responsibilities. Your group or service body may find it useful to study the Traditions and Concepts regularly to become better informed about their origin and usefulness. Some groups have a Traditions meeting once a month in which the topic of that meeting is a particular Tradition.

The following is a suggested format for group conscience meetings. It does not require formal decision-making methods such as motion, amendment, and debate because, as Concept 12 (d) states, “all important decisions shall be reached by discussion, vote and whenever possible, by substantial unanimity.” But a group may decide that a certain item would be more efficiently discussed by using motions and votes. The size of the group may determine the formality needed. Each group will decide how to conduct their business.

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