Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (S.L.A.A.)

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Conference Steps, Traditions, and Concepts Committee: Questions from the Fellowship

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The comments below were given by various members of the Conference Steps, Traditions, and Concepts Committee and do not represent a group conscience of the entire committee. The opinions expressed here are solely that of the person giving them. Take what you like and leave the rest.

The Question

The CSTCC welcomes Questions from the Fellowship concerning , Twelve Traditions and Twelve .  Our responses are individual, and neither binding nor authoritative.   We do not speak for the whole of S.L.A.A.

Question from the Fellowship (Committee Reference #2023-2):

Is the recent decision by the Board of Trustees (BOT) to hold an in person only 2023 Annual Business Meeting () in alignment with the Steps, Concepts and Traditions when this choice makes the event financially exclusive and inaccessible for some , which directly stands in the way of delegates' “right of participation”?

Response #1:

The decision by the BOT to hold an in person only ABM in 2023 is exclusive and anti-democratic. It violates the spirit of all twelve Traditions and all twelve Concepts. Not only does it prevent our Intergroups' Right of Participation, it strikes at Tradition One, attacking the unity of our Fellowship. It is an affront to our six warranties, especially that we “always remain democratic in thought and action.” It is offensive to Traditions Two and Nine; the BOT is not being responsible to those they serve; they are governing rather than serving. The action of the BOT in 2023 is denying the voice of our Fellowship.

Response #2:

It is against traditions to declare that in-person is the only option. It might be that hybrid is a better choice, so everyone can pick and choose accordingly!

Response #3:

There are multiple Concepts and (by reference) Traditions that can be applied to this particular situation.

First, the Board of Trustees (BOT), as per Concept Eight, has primary for the financial health of the organization.  The Board issued a formal Statement describing the reason(s) for their decision.  A portion of the Statement is included below for reference:

“We appreciate the Fellowship's wide spectrum of opinions and viewpoints. The Board of Trustees reviewed all the information and discussed at length the details of holding a combination in-person/virtual integrated (hybrid) event for 2023. Our group conscience decision is that an in-person ABC/M in 2023 would be the best choice at this time, and that it would not be fiscally responsible to the Fellowship to conduct a Hybrid Annual Business Meeting (ABM) this year. As facts became available to the Board, this option became the most viable. Despite the generous efforts of volunteers, the added cost of a hybrid event would have been in excess of USD $30,000 to the Fellowship.”

The Statement directly addresses fiscal responsibility.  The decision to hold in-person only ABC/M appears to be in keeping with Concept Eight.

Concept Twelve also provides guidance on this issue.  Per Warranty “b”, the BOT should be observing the spirit of S.L.A.A. Tradition in making sure that sufficient operating funds and reserve be it's prudent financial principle.  The Statement, while not directly addressing where the monies would have come from (operating funds versus reserves), alludes to this principle.  The BOT also appears to have aligned with Warranty “d”.  In looking at the Statement, it was issued by the BOT as a whole, not a specific individual .  That would indicate there was substantial unanimity in the decision-making process.

Concept Eleven also can be utilized in the review of the process.  The board Statement includes the following in the last paragraph:

“The Board of Trustees wish to thank the Board Committee, all the volunteers, and the Technology Director for their time, efforts, and due diligence in working on this complicated proposal.”

The Board Technology Committee includes board and non-board members.  The Technology Director is a staff position.   While it was a board decision, based on the Statement it seems that board members, non-board members, and staff were all involved in the process leading up to the decision.  If so, it would be in alignment with Concept Eleven.

Concept Six provides additional insight.  Per this Concept, the Conference recognizes that the chief initiative and active responsibility for most world matters be exercised by the Board of Trustees.  The ABC/M is one of our most vital world service matters, so it would appear to fall within the realm of the board's responsibility.

Concept Four was referenced in the original Question, but it does not appear to be directly applicable to this situation.  It reads in whole:  “The “Right of Participation” is maintained by allowing members the opportunity to cast one vote up to the level at which they are trusted servants.”   There is nothing in this Concept indicating or even inferring that virtual attendance be provided for the ABC/M.  It is also important to note that other, larger fellowships (specifically AA and Al-Anon) do not conduct hybrid annual or allow virtual attendance at those meetings.   Since AA wrote the Twelve Concepts, and Al-Anon adopted them many decades ago, it seems unlikely that they would take an action that would be out of alignment with them.

Lastly, Concept One provides some overall guidance for future ABC/M's.   This concept states that ultimate responsibility and authority for world service lies in the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship.   It is not clear that the board conducted a comprehensive survey of the whole fellowship on this issue.  The Statement makes no reference to one.  The decision would be more in alignment with this Concept if there was a conclusive survey indicating what the fellowship wanted.   For next year's ABC/M, potential confusion / conflict could be avoided if the BOT / FWS conducted a detailed survey of members to see what they want.  If a hybrid meeting is majority desired, the board could work with staff and volunteers to obtain additional donations that would cover the added costs.   This could meet the requirements of fiscal responsibility while also assisting members less able to attend an in-person only ABC/M.

Response #4:

Tradition Two says we have but one ultimate authority, a loving God as this power may be expressed through group conscience.  Assuming the board took group conscience on the decision for ABM to be in-person only, their decision is from a loving God. Step Three says we turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand God.  So, if the board took group conscience and we turned our will and our lives over to the care of God, we are asked in to accept the outcomes of group conscience. Tradition One: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon S.L.A.A. unity. That means that when we disagree with group conscience, we are to serve the common welfare of the group, which we have trusted to the BOT that we elected.

Concept One states:  Ultimate responsibility and authority for S.L.A.A. world services always reside in the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship.  Because of Concept One, we elect those fellows we believe should make up our Board of Trustees. Those members we elected, we trusted to make important decisions, through group conscience, that are in the best interest of our fellowship.

Concept Four says:  The “Right of Participation” is maintained by allowing members the opportunity to cast one vote up to the level at which they are trusted servants. It does not indicate where and how those votes are to be cast. There is a cost to our community and individuals even with an online ABM.  Where does the exclusion end if the meeting was hybrid?  It could be seen as exclusionary if we don't supply each delegate with a laptop, internet, and weekly salary for taking time off of work.  There will always be a personal expense to attend ABM whether financial or logistical.

Response #5:

Concept Four reads “The “Right of Participation” is maintained by allowing members the opportunity to cast one vote up to the level at which they are trusted servants.”

I think the question minimizes the second clause “up to the level at which they are trusted servants”. The Board of Trustees (BOT) is elected by the ABM to the level to make the decision – it is theirs to make.

I believe the BOT acted in good faith in making the decision and based it on what sounds like an unreasonable cost of $30,000 to have the ABM as a hybrid meeting. I would be interested in learning more about the factors that went into the costs in the letter the BOT says will be coming out soon. It seems high, I have been to several hybrid one day conferences and I doubt they cost a fraction of the $30,000. That said, I believe the BOT acted with the best available information at the time the decision was made.

Concept Eight says “The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of overall policy and finance. They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly active services, including their ability to hire staff.”

Concept Twelve says “The Conference observes the spirit of S.L.A.A. Tradition:    b. that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle;”

The decision to have the ABM in-person only is in line with the BOT's responsibility over the fellowship's finances. I do not know what the overall financial state of the fellowship is, but given that when I was on the Finance committee, we did not have an excess of funds.  I believe the BOT acted in the scope of their fiduciary duties in deciding to have the 2023 ABM in-person only.

That said, I believe the BOT should come up with a reasonable budget for having the ABM hybrid in 2024.  This would be some amount that the fellowship would subsidize in the spirit of inclusion.  If the cost of going hybrid is more than the subsidy plus the income from the number of virtual participants, the subsidy would be used to assist smaller or more distant intergroups to attend the ABM in person.

The question does bring up a valid point, that the ABM is not truly representative of the fellowship, it tends to skew to the larger intergroups in the United States.  The fellowship would be stronger if we hear from more diverse voices.

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The CSTCC is a group of volunteers, some of whom were ABM delegates, and others who volunteered out of interest. We do not represent a group conscience of S.L.A.A., but are committed to bringing thoughtful discussion and study of 12 Step Fellowship literature and experience to the questions that are brought to us. We offer this summary as the results of our discussions. We present the major points of concern in the hopes that wider discussion in the Fellowship will help us evolve our customs and practice of the S.L.A.A. program of recovery to better represent the loving guidance of a Higher Power. Always, we affirm the autonomy of each group and the need for each individual to follow her/his own conscience. No decision of this group, or any other, is ever forced upon another, even when we believe a practice is clearly in conflict with the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts.