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Chairs in circle

The A.A. Group–the Final Voice of the Fellowship

Alcoholic Anonymous has been called an upside-down organization because “the ultimate responsibility and final authority for world services resides with the group–rather than with the trustees, the General Service Board or the General Service Office in New York.” From Twelve Concepts for World Service Illustrated

A.A. is shaped by the collective voice of its local groups and their representatives to the General Service Conference, which works toward unanimity on matters vital to the Fellowship. Each group functions independently, except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

The Group… Where A.A.’s Service Structure Begins

What is an A.A. Group?

As the long form of Tradition Three clearly states, “Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.”

How Do You Become an A.A. Group Member?

“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.” (Tradition Three) Thus, group membership requires no formal application. Just as we are members of A.A. if we say we are, so are we members of a group if we say we are.

The A.A. Home Group

Traditionally, most A.A. members through the years have found it important to belong to one group which they call their “Home Group.” This is the group where they accept service responsibilities and try to sustain friendships. And although all A.A. members are usually welcome at all groups and feel at home at any of these meetings, the concept of the “Home Group” has still remained the strongest bond between the A.A. member and the Fellowship.

Over the years, the very essence of A.A. strength has remained with our home group, which, for many members, becomes our extended family. Once isolated by our drinking, we find in the home group a solid, continuing support system, friends and, very often, a sponsor. We also learn firsthand, through the group’s workings, how to place “principles before personalities” in the interest of carrying the A.A. message.

Self-support: The Seventh Tradition

There are no dues or fees for membership in A.A., but we do have expenses such as rent, refreshments, A.A. Conference-approved literature, meeting lists and contributions to services provided by the local intergroup (central office), district and area, and the General Service Office of A.A. In keeping with the Seventh Tradition a group may “pass the basket” for contributions, and members are encouraged to participate.

Coffee, Tea and Fellowship

Many A.A. members report that their circle of A.A. friends has widened greatly as the result of coffee and conversation before and after meetings.

Most groups depend upon their members to prepare for each meeting, serve the refreshments, and clean up afterward. You often hear A.A. members say that they first felt “like members” when they began making coffee, helping with the chairs, or cleaning the coffeepot. Some newcomers find that such activity relieves their shyness and makes it easier to meet and talk to other members.

The contents of this page contains excerpts from the of pamphlet “The A.A. Group: Where It All Begins“. © A.A. World Services, Inc.

Further Reading

For more information about AA Groups, download the following pamphlets:

AA Fact File
The A.A. Group