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Minutes of April 15, 2004 SLAA Business Meeting
Members present are: Cudbme, Darren, Donatella, Lynn, Marabel, TimF, Abram, Chuck66=Chuck, Carrie, Jen, DonnaNY, ktb=Katie, Maria, Steve, Tom, ThomasBurt, Vic
Marabel opens the meeting at 10 PM EST (U.S.) with the following announcements:
A We would like to welcome our new operators since 2/15/04 -- bringing us to 96 operators: lamplighte=Chuck (2/16); Darren (2/19); JoelR=Joel (2/19); Lynn (2/19); Brother (3/31); johnlk=Celine (4/??); Kel=Kelly (pending); and Shannon (pending). We currently have obsolete email addresses for five of our 96 Trusted Servants: ^jakester^=Jay; Jen; Mike-M=Mike; Myra; and SarahR=Sarah. One Trusted Servant's email address is too full: Maxine.
B. We like to list upcoming SLAA conferences or retreats (here and on our website). Please let us know if you know of any we may add:
One Day Conference - $20 includes pizza and beverage lunch
Saturday, May 15 9am-5pm - near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Email email@example.com for details and form
Annual Business Conference/Meeting - $559-$790 depending on lodging
Tue, July 20 10am - Fri, July 23 2pm - Dedham, Massachusetts
Some travel reimbursement may be available (depending upon distance)
Registration deadline June 20
See http://www.slaafws.org/forms.html for details and forms. #SLAA Online Group has never before been represented - please email firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
Three Day Conference - $135 includes meals and two nights lodging
Fri, July 23 8:30am - Sun, July 25 Noon - Chester, Vermont
$20 discount if registration payment is received before July 2
Email email@example.com for details and form.
C. The “Website Committee” was formed in June, 2003. If anyone is interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express an interest. This committee is open to anyone with a desire; you do not have to be an operator to join.
D. The “Scripts Committee” was formed in early 2003. If anyone is interested, please email email@example.com to express an interest. This committee is open to anyone with a desire; you do not have to be an operator to join.
E. The “Ops Training Committee” was formed in January, 2004. If anyone is interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express an interest. This committee is open to anyone with a desire; you do not have to be an operator to join.
F. The “Speakers Committee” was formed in February, 2003. If anyone is interested, please email email@example.com to express an interest. This committee is open to anyone with a desire; you do not have to be an operator to join.
G. The “Bot Committee” was formed in December, 2003. If anyone is interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express an interest. This committee is open to anyone with a desire; you do not have to be an operator to join.
H. One operator (on 10/21) suggested adding an "OPEN MEETING" to our schedule. So far, all our meetings are CLOSED to only sex addicts. This would permit attendance by therapists, clergy, and laypersons. They suggested starting this meeting on a monthly basis instead of weekly, citing 7pm ET on the first Monday of every month. Beginning such a meeting would not require group conscience; only the volunteering of at least two trusted servants to host this meeting on a regular basis.
I. For about two months, alexpal=Alex has been "unofficially" conducting a Step Meeting at 8pm ET for one hour in #SLAA. Unlike the 10pm ET Feedback Meetings which study Step One throughout January, Step Two throughout February, and ultimately Step Twelve throughout December -- these meetings move from each Step to the next from meeting to meeting. Presently these are conducted about five evenings each week, depending upon Alex's availability. He and the #SLAA Online Group would welcome acquiring Trusted Servants to expand these meetings to seven "official" evenings every week with a leader and a greeter.
J. Most members know that the S.L.A.A. Basic Text is available for $14.50 at many stores or meetings. SLAA-FWS now makes this available on 16 cassettes for $40(US) or 16 CDs for $55(US) [great for travel]. Certain chapters are available individually or on two cassettes or CDs.
SLAA-FWS has a bimonthly "meeting in print" called the Journal for $18(US) yearly. SLAA-FWS recently made the first ten years of the Journal (9/89-8/99) into three volumes selling for $12(US) each or $33(US) for the entire set. (Each volume is size of SLAA Basic Text.)
SLAA-FWS has printed many Journal articles on the topic of Anorexia over the years; now 23 short stories are available in a 52-page booklet for $5(US).
SLAA-FWS also has a quarterly newsletter for $5(US) yearly.
SLAA-FWS's pocket toolkit was reduced from $1.75(US) to $1.00(US) recently. Prices do not include shipping charges.
Many of these items are not yet reflected at www.slaafws.org site - but feel free to contact them at email@example.com or -781-255-8825 to order them (tell 'em we sent you!).
K. The S.L.A.A. Fellowship Wide Service Prison Outreach Committee (POC) is in need of more penpals to write to prison inmates. This can be just a letter every month or two and provides a great service to BOTH the prisoner (for recovery) and YOU (12th Step). If interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
L. The #SLAA Online Group will be conducting annual nominations for its six officers throughout May and voting throughout June. All members are encouraged to participate.
Marabel then opens the meeting with a moment of silence, followed by the Serenity Prayer at 10:14 PM EST (U.S).
Marabel then shares, "Ok, before we get started, I want to share a few things before we go on to approving minutes and such..."
"A few simple rules...
1. No crosstalk, or interrupting while someone is sharing! Comments such as "nods, smiles, WTG" and the like are acceptable, but long comments are not. Please save questions or comments until after the person has shared, and when I have given you the floor.
2. Please familiarize yourself with both the minutes of the previous meeting and the agenda, especially before asking a question about a particular item of discussion or voting. The minutes are at http://slaaonline.org/minutes/040315.html and the agenda is at http://slaaonline.org/meet.html
3. After a certain amount of discussion on an issue on the floor, I may exercise the right to "call the question". This is to avoid filibustering on one issue to the exclusion of other issues on the agenda.
4. If your nickname is present in the room, please be present in body as well as spirit! If you are here, please vote or abstain when issues come up for a vote. It is very difficult to keep up with "straggling votes".
Thanks much for your cooperation! Love ya all. Now...If you want to follow
along with the meeting agenda, please visit
The first item on the agenda will be to approve the minutes of the 2/15 meeting. The 2/15 minutes are at http://slaaonline.org/minutes/040315.html. I will give a minute or two to allow you to read the minutes, before approving and seconding."
After a two minute break, Marabel asks, "Okie dokie...anybody up for approving the minutes?"
TimF says, "I move to approve them as submitted and posted."
"Wonderful...thanks Tim, do I have a second?" Marabel asks.
Donatella and Lynn both second.
"Ok, now I will open the floor for Old Business."
Marabel shares Item 2 on the agenda, "2. Status report from Daytime Meeting Committee (began last month with one hour of discussion). All daytime meetings are currently covered(see slaaonline.org/ts.html). Shall we continue this committee to coordinate the schedule for all meetings and keep it up-to-date? Shall we close this committee? Shall we rename this committee to "Scheduling Committee" (adding and/or removing members as they see fit) to handle the coordination of ALL meetings?"
Marabel continues, "That is the first item of our agenda, left over from our last lengthy discussion." Marabel smiles and opens the floor for motions and/or discussion.
Donatella takes the floor. "Ok, my position still stands that I would like to continue the daytime committee..however, most people expressed that they feel it is no longer necessary. Nothing I can do about that...one thing that has changed however. I would be willing to co-chair a scheduling committee if that is decided upon, whether or not the daytime committe is "dis-banded" but only co-chair...I would rather not do it by myself."
Lynn shares, "I would like to see the daytime committee continue on for another 3 - 6 months until things are running more smoothly as I feel there are still problems with meetings not being covered by the peopled scheduled and would like the committeee to address this ongoing problem, as I see it."
Marabel asks, "Any further discussion/suggested motions?"
Cudbme opines, "I'd just like to say that I'm glad to see the progress moving ahead. I'm glad Toni is stepping forth to co-chair.. because.. obviously a committee is needed for all meetings, and not just daytime, and yes... I get to meetings in the daytime "now" because I'm unemployed and have noted Lynn there consistently chairing the meeting only to take over for her when she has to take care of personal life or someone else. So sure, there is need for a co-ordinated effort. That is accountable "imperfectly", however progressively. I don't see it much benefit we fragment over daytime and nighttime service so much as a whole committee to address the Service Chair organization. So...I'm hoping it does move in that direction so that co-ordination can be discussed between the night-time OPs who show up and want status. However, a little service could help, just imho. Thanks for listening. Love ya guys."
Darren shares, "Just want to echo what was said above...I'm finding (increasingly) when I show up for noon/4:30 pm meetings, there is no one to chair OR greet. Having to take on these meetings as leader is usually no problem, but recently it just seems to be getting worse. Almost like the schedule doesn't matter. I think we should have some order or commitment from TS to either do the meetings as scheduled, or arrange for someone to take their place. Often times though I'll log in & find only myself & CStar as ops. Just wanted to mention that."
Marabel and TimF both ask for the floor, and Marabel defers to TimF.
TimF shares, "Thanks, Marabel. For a little history...Vicki asked the "Daytime Meeting Committee" to be formed as a *temporary* committee late last year because we had 7 daytime meetings that didn't have the two required Trusted Servants, and as a group, we were considering options -- one of which being to drop them. Now all meetings are covered except for the Sunday 10pm meeting. I think that this "Daytime Committee" did well, but agree with Darren that a schedule is only good if the Trusted Servants use it, and remain committed. For instance, tonight I started the #SLAA meeting nine minutes late. Even the scheduled leader was in the room (and still is)..."
Jen notes, "But you are here also... so that makes it harder."
TimF continues, "Having a committee called "Scheduling Committee" would allow us to monitor how ALL meetings are progressing, so that if any particular meeting seems to have an ongoing problem we can seek to find a new Trusted Servant -- to make the schedule work. That isn't to say it is cast in stone, but should be a suggested guideline of knowing who leads and greets.
This year, Vicki was Chairperson. Usually in the past, the Chairperson was more an evening person...That gave us new insights and I think that an OVERALL committee -- with representation from ALL meeting times would serve our group well, not just for 6 or so months but as a long-time standing committee.
"Ok...now I have the floor...," Marabel smiles, and continues.
"First of all, I thought that I was tonight's leader in the room next door, evidently I am not...thanks Tim for pointing that out."
"Now, after breathing a huge sigh of relief, I can say this. I would like to be on the Scheduling Committee, and I would like to step up to the plate to be co-chair with Toni to represent evening meetings, seeing as I go to an awful lot of them anyway," Marabel laughs.
Marabel continues, "I would like to make a motion to continue this committee as the "Scheduling Committee" with Toni and I co-chairing, and add or remove members as our needs dictate to handle scheduling of all meetings. Discussion, questions, seconding, or friendly amendments to this???"
TimF offers a friendly amendment.
"I suggest changing 'and add or remove members as our needs dictate' to 'and add or remove committee members as our needs dictate'. If you agree, ! second."
Chuck66 says, "I just agree." Marabel says, "Cool."
Cudbme requests the floor, and Marabel restates the motion before giving Cudbme the floor.
"Ok...the new motion is...'I would like to make a motion to continue this committee as the "Scheduling Committee" with Toni and I co-chairing, and add or remove committee members as our needs dictate.' We have a motion and a second. Cud, you have the floor before a vote."
CudBme shares a "Quick observation nagging the back of my head. I was under the impression we were going to unite the two groups by having a "person" accountable as the Scheduling Commitee chair... and the two co chairs would report and coordinate as a solid group... however.. if two halves can come up as one... so be it.. just I was under that impression."
Abram takes the floor. Marabel remarks, "I will comment after Abram's share."
"I just got done skimming the minutes from the previous business meeting...took me almost an hour..." starts Abram.
Marabel and Cudbme smile.
Abram continues, "Thank you all for taking on this difficult topic. I think the motion will address in a practical way the needs of the daytime meetings, but clearly there is some history and lots of emotion involved too. Perhaps there is a sense that the previous committee (sic) played an advocacy role for daytime meetings. They were offshoots, or colonies of the nite meetings, and may need a special sense of being part of the whole. If that is satisfied by the somewhat blandly titled scheduling committee, than I think all will be well."
"Thanks Abram, ok now I will comment," Marabel responds.
Marabel continues, "I believe that the Daytime Committee has a good thing going. I also believe that there should be unity. However, the reality is...one person cannot be two places at once. To have two co-chairs spreads out the coverage as well as the responsibility. We have quite a few meetings to cover, and two people would not only provide the coverage needed, but also allow for unity...as the two co-chairs work to that end...as well as keep the meetings staffed with ops.
I think we can be a unified whole with this new committee, and I believe we can forge a new shared history. With that said, I would like us to vote on the amended motion, which is, "I would like to make a motion to continue this committee as the "Scheduling Committee", with Toni and I co-chairing, and add or remove committee members as our needs dictate."
Marabel then puts the motion out for a vote.
"Please send a + for yea, - for nay, and x for abstain."
The motion passes with 7 "yea" votes, no "nay" votes, and 3 abstentions.
Marabel says, "Thanks all for all your discussion and thought on this topic.
TimF asks for the floor. "With the permission of the members, I would ask that we move item #4 up in the agenda (since member that asked about that is present)and handle current item #3 later (or table to next meeting if we adjourn) That was a motion."
Marabel seconds the motion.
Marabel introduces Item #4, the only item of New Business.
"Ok...for those who don't have the agenda handy, item 4 is, "From
a Sun-11-Apr-04 email, a member is requesting that Trusted Servants discontinue
using the "Long Form" of the Serenity Prayer during any meeting closings.
This prayer includes the phrases "this sinful world" and "supremely
happy with You forever in the next [life]" -- which this member considers
to be endorsment of specific theology when used by the Trusted Servants and
not a personal share.
I now open the floor for questions, motions, discussion."
ThomasBurt asks to share.
"My name's Tom, I'm a sex addict. This issue is about observing the Twelve Traditions so we can carry the message to newcomers. One of the prayers on the "SLAA Approved" list for closing online meetings (an extended version of the commonly used Serenity Prayer) makes reference to specific theological concepts which, though popular among Christian members, are by no means universal and have nothing to do with the Twelve Steps.
This prayer uses the phrase "this sinful world" and refers to a "next"
life. References to an afterlife are irrelevant to carrying the message of recovery
through the Twelve Steps. The idea of "heaven" or "hell",
or even of reincarnation, is not included anywhere in the process of working
the Twelve Steps. The Steps do not say we are living by spiritual principles
in order to get a reward or avoid punishment in the "next" life; we
practice these principles in order to stay sober today (or abstinent, if you
This concept may be part of some members' spiritual beliefs, but such specific cosmological constructions have no place in official meeting formats or readings.
The phrase "this sinful world" is even more troubling, because of the Christian doctrine of "original sin". It is hard enough to avoid the appearance of religious affiliation when SLAA is known as the "Augustine Fellowship", since St. Augustine was second only to St. Paul in his influence on Christian doctrine, and Augustine was the most powerful exponent of the concept of "original sin". This reference to "this sinful world," this wholesale condemnation of the world as "sinful", is perilously close to an endorsement of this theology.
ThomasBurt continues, "At the very least, it gives the appearance of affiliation. Newcomers to SLAA often have been oppressed and abused by this language most of their lives. They may have been told they are "sinful", that they are going to "hell," or that they need to follow the Christian religion if they want to go to "heaven".
"To come to a meeting which is supposed to be a safe place, which is supposed to be free of judgment and shaming, which is supposed to be respectful of the spiritual diversity of its members, to come to this last house on the block and be met with this language is inexcusable.
I respect the right of Christian members to have their beliefs, even to share those beliefs in meetings (though I think it's inappropriate), but the portions of the meeting format which are read aloud by the chair have to answer to a higher standard.
The officially approved meeting formats should not include specific theological concepts not included in the Twelve Steps. Of course, this line of reasoning can be taken to extremes, and I don't advocate sterilizing every utterance in a meeting until no one can say anything, but the language in this "long form" of the Serenity Prayer is way over the line. Please consider editing this prayer or removing it from the "SLAA-Approved" closings. Thank you for your time and consideration."
Chuck66 replies, "I disagree w/ this idea...I believe that the "next life" is not just a part of Judeo-Christian beliefs. I could see how the word "sinful" could be construed w/ those religious beliefs, and I think it would exclude others and inhibit our primary purpose to carry the message to the addict who still suffers if "sinful" was some how tied in w/ the teachings of SLAA. I have not seen that.
My concern is that once you open this can of worms, then "higher power" becomes a problem for somebody, and we end up getting caught up in things that aren't that important."
TimF shares, "I'm glad Tom brought this to our attention. One point of clarification, though, is in order. The opening and closing scripts that the #SLAA Online Group have evolved over six+ years, and for last few years, I personally have been helping make the scripts easier for Trusted Servants. So while group conscience added the PROMISES and the REWARDS in the past, I have extended additional scripts (many) - most of which are not even used.
We can play the 3rd Step Prayer or the 7th Step Prayer or the 11th Step Prayer at the conclusion and ONLY play the LONG version of the Serenity Prayer if the Trusted Servant specifically cues this up. The default closing is: The Promises, The Rewards, and the SHORT version of the Serenity Prayer. Yet I see how this might be offensive to some, so I have no vested interest in the outcome of this group conscience. If we eliminate this from the scripts, some Trusted Servants may still have this in their scripts for a few months or more until their scripts are ultimately updated, just like MANY Trusted Servants do NOT have this available to them."
Abram and Lynn raise their hands for the floor, and Marabel interrupts the meeting with an announcement.
"Before I go further, I would like to ask if anyone would like to move to extend this meeting for further discussion, or to table this to the next meeting?" Marabel asks.
Abram responds, "I so move that it be extended for 15 minutes." TimF seconds the motion.
Abram asks before the vote, "Amazingly, I've never seen the long version of the prayer. Could someone send it to me?"
Marabel opens the floor for a vote.
"Please vote + for yea, - for nay, and x for abstain."
Nine votes, a majority, vote "yea" to extend the meeting, with no "nay" votes and one abstention. The meeting is extended for fifteen minutes.
Abram apologizes, "Sorry for jumping the gun. Ok, thanks to Tim, I have just read the prayer. I found in order to be comfortable with it, I had to read those two sections, about sinful world and next life, as metaphorical..."
TimF notes, "As written by author."
Chuck66 says, "Chuck's wife will be in labor this evening!" and smiles.
Marabel reiterates, "The item, for recap is, 'From a Sun-11-Apr-04 email, a member is requesting that Trusted Servants discontinue using the "Long Form" of the Serenity Prayer during any meeting closings. This prayer includes the phrases "this sinful world" and "supremely happy with You forever in the next [life]" -- which this member considers to be endorsment of specific theology when used by the Trusted Servants and not a personal share.'
The portion of the prayer is, "Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as God did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen."
Marabel then gives Abram the floor. Then Marabel adds, "And then I want to share."
Abram replies, "Sorry for the delay... trying to phrase this. While I have found it useful the have to confront the obvious Christian roots of the program, I think Tom is right that this might be too much for those coming from that tradtion. I would support a motion asking Ops not to use this version."
Lynn agrees, "I wanted to go on record that I too am uncomfortable with the reading of the extended version of the Serenity Prayer as it does not seem to me to fit with our traditions of no other affiliations...it has a definite religious tone to it instead of the spiritual message that I hold to as a member of this Program. Thanks for listening."
Cudbme responds, "Though I don't have a problem with the religious "tone"
of the prayer because it is what it is, however I do have issue with the last
statement, as in 'supremely happy with you forever in the next life', because
that seems to incur "escapism".... and addicts are all too jumpy to
run from today and say it was all done for tomorrow.
So, in that sense, it is not healthy for those of us who need to learn to BE REAL TODAY, believe that...and tomorrow is guaranteed to get better. Thanks, imho."
"I tend to agree with Chuck," Jen shares. "Once you open this can of worms...(quoting Chuck), 'then "higher power" becomes a problem for somebody, and we end up getting caught up in things that aren't that important.'
Once we knock this version out, there will be others who may find a problem with others as well, such as the ending of the 11th step prayer which has similar wording...
To me a lot of things in the 12 step program are just different wordings that
basically mean the same thing... but I do know that it can conjure up a lot
of feelings. For me it basically just made me look at my feelings and get to
the root of why a word or phrase would trigger so much emotion in me. As an
abuse survivor I struggled so much with steps 2 and 3 because my concept of
the God of my understanding was so distorted, and I was uncomfortable with the
wording of even the steps. I WANTED TO CHANGE THEM."
Marabel nods and relates.
Jen continues, "I am not minimizing your feelings 'cause I know how rough this can be. Even the fact that most meetings take place in a church setting used to make me uncomfortable, but I do think time can make a huge difference in our recovery."
"Thanks Jen...well put," Marabel responds.
ThomasBurt raised his hand, but Marabel interrupts as the extended time is running out.
"Ok folks, I need to wind this up with a motion. Given the time, I would like to move to move this to the next month's agenda, as I think this warrants a bit more discussion and thought. Would someone like to second?" Marabel asks.
Chuck and Cudbme second.
"This agenda item is now moved to next month's agenda..." starts Marabel, then Abram asks, "Don't we need to vote on that motion?"
Marabel stops and replies, "I'm sorry.. you are correct Abram."
"Please send a + for yea, - for nay and x for abstain"
Five vote "yea" to move to next month's agenda, 3 vote "nay", and two abstain.
TimF raises his hand for a point of order.
"Since group conscience extended this 90-minute meeting by 15 minutes, technically we should adjourn -- which would *automatically* table this item to next month. However with three ney votes...seems that some do NOT want to table this, so we have two options; either call the question (and see how the vote tallies), or vote to extend the meeting for another brief period of time.
Marabel decides, "I would like to move to extend this meeting to another fifteen minutes. Do I have a second?"
Jen seconds, and Marabel quickly moves, "If you would like to extend this meeting for another 15, please vote + for yea, - for nay and x for abstain"
Four vote "Yea" to extend, two vote "nay", and four abstain.
Marabel, states the obvious. "It looks like we do not have a majority...Cud, Lynn, care to share, and then Abram, followed by Thomas."
Cudbme says, "Sure...I feel we already voted to extend the meeting to address this, and I feel by pushing it another 15 minutes is just going to have me just wanting to end the meeting, not persue to really do the right thing, because frankly I need to get to sleep to get ready for my job interview tomorrow."
Jen in agreement says, "I'll change mine to - then... so we don't extend talking about whether to extend or not... i gotta get ready for school tomorrow."
This brings us to four "Yea" votes, three "nay" votes, and three abstentions, which doesn't break the impasse at all, but given the time, does move it to next month's agenda.
Chuck66 comments, "I've got to give birth!" Marabel smiles, and Jen says "Goodnight." Marabel says, "Night Jen, Congrats Chuck, and goodnight Cud."
TimF remarks that he "Would like to hear any closing comments by Tom -- in case he isn't at the 5/15 meeting."
ThomasBurt takes the floor. "I just want to say that this is not an anti-Christian thing. The point is not that it is necessarily a Christian prayer, but that it is way too specific. We should keep references to Spiritual concepts as simple and generic as possible.I can't stay, I get to put my daughter to bed, but I trust the group conscience. Peace be with you."
Abram declines the floor, and Marabel takes it back. "Ok...I'm going to call the question..."
TimF says, "I don't see a motion on the floor."
Marabel continues, "I move to adjourn this meeting and table this item to next month. Second?"
TimF remarked, "Adjourning and approving minutes are the two main motions that do not need a vote."
"Ok..now for the Serenity Prayer folks...thanks so much for your time and patience with me tonight," Marabel smiles
TimF shoots out, "SHORT VERSION! LOL" Abram and Cudbme laugh. Jen smiles and says, "I was gonna say that!"
Marabel quips, "I know...(laughing) my short version doesn't work."
Then Marabel asks, "Would one of you like to share it, or I'll just type fast?"
TimF closes the meeting with the short version of the Serenity Prayer at 11:58 PM EST (U.S.)