The St. Vital Group
of Alcoholics Anonymous

A Group Conscience Meeting of the St. Vital Group was held April 23, 2022 @ 11:00 a.m. in the clubroom and online (Zoom).

Thank you to all group members who were able to participate!


Please read all of the: Group Conscience Items | Background | Rationale | Recommended Schedule | Questions & Answers


Group Conscience Items

  1. (CARRIED) Adopt the following revised clubroom meeting schedule:
    Combine the 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. clubroom meetings into a single, 7:00 pm. evening meeting, move the weekend 8:30 p.m. meeting to 7:00 p.m., and remove the 2:00 p.m. weekend meetings. The resulting schedule of clubroom meetings would be:
    • Daily Meetings, Monday to Sunday
      • 9:30 a.m. Chairperson’s Choice (1st Monday Tradition) / Sunday Big Book Study
      • 7:00 p.m. (with a scheduled Chairperson)
  2. (CARRIED) Adopt the following online (Zoom) meeting schedule for a 4-month trial period*:
    • Monday – Friday
      • 9:30 a.m. Chairperson’s Choice (1st Monday Tradition)
    • Monday / Wednesday / Friday
      • 6:00 pm (with a scheduled Chairperson)

    * At the beginning of September 2022, a Group Inventory will be held to determine if the Group is fulfilling its commitments. If it is not, the Group may choose to reduce the Zoom schedule further or do away with it altogether.

  3. (CARRIED) Adopt the following topics (currently used for the 8:30 p.m. meetings) for the proposed 7:00 p.m. clubroom meetings (should item (1) be adopted):
    • Monday: Steps 4 – 12
    • Tuesday: Discussion
    • Wednesday: Discussion (3rd Wednesday Tradition)
    • Thursday: Open Speaker
    • Friday: Beginner’s Series – 5 weeks (Intro, Steps 1 – 3, Sponsorship)
    • Saturday: 1st Sat Grapevine, 2nd Saturday Open Birthday Night, 3rd Sat Closed Speaker, 4th/5th Sat Grapevine.
    • Sunday: Big Book Study
  4. (DEFEATED) Adopt the following rotating 9 meeting (3 week) schedule of topics for 6:00 p.m. Zoom meetings (should item (2) be adopted):
    • Week 1
      • Monday: Step 1
      • Wednesday: Step 2
      • Friday: Step 3
    • Week 2
      • Monday: Step 4
      • Wednesday: Step 5
      • Friday: Steps 6 & 7
    • Week 3
      • Monday: Steps 8 & 9
      • Wednesday: Steps 10 & 11
      • Friday: Step 12 / Sponsorship

Meeting Sub-Committee recommendations to the St. Vital Group Committee

(Revised with corrected meeting topics for Zoom meetings and additional “Questions and Answers” based on discussion at the Special Committee Meeting held March 30, 2022)

Background

The St. Vital Group had a 22 meeting / week schedule prior to the Corona Virus Pandemic. In March of 2020, an emergency committee meeting was held, and a decision made to close the St. Vital Group clubroom in keeping with a province-wide Public Health lockdown. A St. Vital member informally began hosting online meetings using their personal Zoom account during regular St. Vital Group meeting times. A second member donated a Zoom account to the group in March of 2020, and the committee moved our entire meeting schedule onto this account in April 2020. In-person meetings resumed on a reduced basis July 1, 2020, as volunteers were found to act as openers for the various meeting times. Zoom meetings allowed us to continue functioning as a group when we otherwise would have had to cease holding meetings altogether. Gradually, the full meeting schedule (minus the Saturday 11 a.m. Step 11 meeting) resumed at the clubroom. Over the next 15 months, coffee service remained closed, and restrictions with respect to mask wearing, sanitization, social distancing, and capacity were followed in the clubroom as per Provincial Health Orders. The group has maintained a 43-meeting/week schedule (split between online and in-person) for the entirety of this period. In October of 2021 a subcommittee was struck to review and make recommendations to the group committee regarding the group’s in-person and online meeting schedules, taking into consideration the following:

  • The ongoing shortage of group members (with the required sobriety) willing to accept and fulfil the following commitments, both online and in-person:
    • Openers (coffee monitors) at in-person meetings
    • Hosts at Zoom meetings
    • Meeting Chairpersons (in-person and online)
    • Committee positions
  • Changes to the public health orders.
  • Available options to unite members attending online with those at the clubroom, such as the possibility of hybrid meetings.

Such recommendations, if accepted by the group committee, may necessitate holding a group conscience to approve any schedule changes by 2/3 majority.

The subcommittee originally consisted of Kelli R, Jill D, Dave B, Mitchell Z, Don M, Jo-Anne L, and Gallagher C, and after the November election expanded to include Kevin R, John S. The sub-committee began meeting in January of 2022.


Rationale

Tradition Five states: “Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”

The St. Vital Group has existed as a neighbourhood group in Winnipeg for over 49 years. We have been actively engaged in carrying the A.A. message to newcomers who walk through the clubroom door, and in being a part of our local Intergroup, District, and Area, thus ensuring that the A.A. message reaches those beyond our clubroom.

The pamphlet “The A.A. Group…where it all begins”, states the difference between A.A. Meetings and an A.A. Group: “is that A.A. groups generally continue to exist outside the prescribed meeting hours, ready to provide Twelfth Step help when needed.” As one long-timer explains it, activity at a meeting happens between the Serenity Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer, while activity at a group happens between the Lord’s Prayer and the Serenity Prayer. One-on-one sponsorship, gatherings, taking corrections meetings, pickups at treatment centres, twelve-step calls, committee meetings, answering calls on the A.A. telephone line, visiting sick members in the hospital, meetings after the meeting outside of the clubroom – these are vital activities for a healthy group. But before we can carry the message outside the clubroom, we must ensure that we are carrying it inside the clubroom.

Whilst we doubled our number of meetings early in the pandemic, we did not double our membership. Prior to the initial lockdown, we were already experiencing reduced attendance at our 8:30 p.m. clubroom meetings and difficulty fulfilling service commitments. This problem has only been made worse by doubling our meeting schedule. Everyone knows that cutting a pizza into a greater number of pieces doesn’t produce more pizza; there is just less to go around.

We must grow toward being a healthy group which effectively carries the A.A. message again, rather than merely a series of meetings. We need to do more than have the doors open; we must ensure that the suffering alcoholic who passes through the doors hears a message of recovery, and just as importantly, see examples of recovery in action.

We are in a situation where we need to make difficult decisions for the good of the group. The simplest solution is to reduce the number of meetings on our schedule. We recommend the following changes:

  1. Combine the 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. clubroom meetings into a single, 7:00 pm. evening meeting. The scheduled topics and chairpersons from the 8:30 p.m. meeting would move to this new meeting. This would increase the number of members with substantial sobriety time and recovery to serve both as coffee monitors and as chair people.
  2. Remove the 2:00 pm weekend meetings, which have been poorly attended. Again, doing so would free up group members to fulfill commitments at other times.
  3. Reduce the current Zoom schedule from 22 meetings to 8 meetings. Mon – Friday 9:30 a.m. and Mon/Wed/Friday 6:00 p.m. (these with a scheduled topic/chairperson). Again, this would free up members to fulfill commitments. This would still provide an online meeting space, but also encourage members to transition to clubroom meetings.

    The current Zoom schedule was enacted as a temporary measure and was never approved by group conscience. It was intended to act as an alternative to in-person meetings when Public Health Orders at first closed the clubroom and subsequently limited in-person attendance. For some, online meetings are now an integral part of A.A. life, but the St. Vital Group cannot be all things to all people. The principle of the Tradition Five is singleness of purpose. The primary place we must carry the message is in our clubroom. However, we believe there may still be a place for continuing online St. Vital Group meetings. We recognize that there is still uncertainty with respect to the future of the pandemic, and hesitation amongst some of our members to the return to the clubroom. Rather than discontinuing online meetings altogether now that the Public Health Orders have been terminated, we recommend the new proposed Zoom schedule be brought to Group Conscience to be enacted on a trial basis for 4 months. A Group Inventory would be held at the beginning of September to determine whether the group is fulfilling its commitments. If not, the group could choose to reduce the Zoom schedule further or do away with it altogether.

We realize that none of us wishes to see our schedule reduced, nor to potentially lose our preferred meeting time. But we are at a critical point where we must put the wellbeing of the group ahead of our own personal wishes. There is always the possibility of adding to the schedule should the group find itself in a healthier state down the road. If we are to thrive, we must survive – we must ensure first and foremost that our own house is in order.

"Realization dawns on each member that he is but a small part of a great whole. He learns that the clamor of desires and ambitions within him must be silenced whenever these could damage the group. It becomes plain that the group must survive or the individual will not."

Bill W.

Recommended Schedule

Clubroom Meetings (In-Person)

Daily, Monday – Sunday

9:30 a.m.

  • Mon – Sat: Chairperson’s Choice (1st Monday Tradition)
  • Sunday: Big Book Study

7:00 p.m. (Scheduled Chairperson / Topic)

  • Monday: Steps 4 – 12
  • Tuesday: Discussion
  • Wednesday: Discussion (3rd Wednesday Tradition)
  • Thursday: Open Speaker
  • Friday: Beginner’s Series – 5 weeks (Intro, Steps 1 – 3, Sponsorship)
  • Saturday: 1st Sat Grapevine, 2nd Saturday Open Birthday Night, 3rd Sat Closed Speaker, 4th/5th Sat Grapevine.
  • Sunday: Big Book Study

Zoom (Online)

Monday – Friday

9:30 a.m.

  • Chairperson’s Choice (1st Monday Tradition)

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

6:00 p.m. (Scheduled Chairperson / Topic)

  • Week 1
    • Monday: Step 1
    • Wednesday: Step 2
    • Friday: Step 3
  • Week 2
    • Monday: Step 4
    • Wednesday: Step 5
    • Friday: Steps 6 & 7
  • Week 3
    • Monday: Steps 8 & 9
    • Wednesday: Steps 10 & 11
    • Friday: Step 12 / Sponsorship

Questions & Answers:

Q. Where will newcomers and other members who can’t attend a 7:00 p.m. meeting in the clubroom go if we have no 8:30 p.m. meeting in-person?

A. Two other neighbourhood groups, First Step and 639 Group, both offer 8:00 p.m. meetings.

Q. Why don’t we try hybrid meetings?

A.

  • hybrid meetings add another layer of complexity to chairing, making it less accessible. We are already well short of volunteers filling service commitments, without adding a technical barrier.
  • It is an additional distraction for the chair.
  • Requires in-person attendees to be willing to participate in a Zoom meeting, whether they want to or not.
  • Increases the number of members at the meeting, decreasing time for sharing. Who gets priority?
  • Requires purchase, storage, and maintenance of equipment; again, we are having difficulty with the responsibilities we already have.

Q. We have openers right now for the 8:30 - what is the problem?

A. This is not the case. The schedule of Coffee Monitors (openers) for 8:30 p.m. meetings has had vacant slots since the clubroom reopened. Meetings are taking place because volunteers are covering more than one night. Often an 8:30 p.m. coffee monitor has not shown up, so a keyholder in attendance at the 6:30 p.m. meeting has stayed to ensure the group is open for the 8:30 pm meeting. Further, we don’t have enough regular attendees with enough recovery to effectively carry the message. Frequently meeting attendance is less than 6 people, and the only person in the room with more than three months of sobriety is the coffee monitor. If the same number of members attended one meeting (7:00 p.m.) rather than two (6:30/8:30 p.m.), we would have a deeper pool of recovery at that meeting.

Q. Won’t contributions decrease if we have less meetings?

A. See the answer above.

Q. If we have a 7:00 p.m. meeting on Saturday, what happens to Birthday Night?

A. Birthday Night will begin at 7:00 p.m. on the 2nd Saturday of the month in the clubroom, which is less confusing the current practice of having a different start time one week each month.

Q. We have the clubroom and the Zoom account 24 hours / day. Why not keep the same schedule, and just encourage members to step up and fill commitments?

A. We have been attempting to do that since before the pandemic, to no avail. More meetings with less members carrying a message of recovery does not provide a basis for attraction. A healthy group holding meetings where they are actively carrying the message encourages and attracts newcomers to the Fellowship and to working the program.

Q. If the Group Conscience doesn’t vote to adopt the recommended trial Zoom schedule, what happens to our Zoom meetings?

A. The St. Vital Group Zoom meetings have been offered as a temporary response to restrictions at the clubroom mandated by the Public Health Orders during the pandemic. All such Orders were terminated March 14, 2022. Should the Group Conscience not vote to adopt the trial Zoom schedule, the St. Vital Group will cease offering Zoom meetings following the Group Conscience meeting.

Q. If we have less online meetings, what will happen to members who only attend online?

A. They will have the option (and are encouraged) to attend meetings at the clubroom, exactly as they would have for the 47 years prior to the pandemic. Alternately, if they are unable to do so, they may attend one of 125 Manitoba-based online meetings each week (including the 8 we are recommending we keep on a trial basis). Beyond that, there are literally thousands of online meetings available 24 hours/day, every day, world-wide, regardless of where a member is located.

Q. Where and when will committee meetings be held?

A. Committee meetings will be held in the clubroom at 6:00 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month, as they were prior to the pandemic. There will be no 7:00 p.m. meeting scheduled this night. However, members are welcome to attend the committee meeting as observers (an excellent opportunity to see service in action), and to join in the “meeting after the meeting” for fellowship.

Q. My favourite meeting / preferred meeting time isn’t on the proposed clubroom/Zoom schedule. Why is that?

A. For over two years, we have fallen short as a group in meeting our commitments. We find ourselves at a critical juncture. Now each of us are being asked to set aside our personal preferences and make sacrifices for the good of the St. Vital Group. We are each being asked to remember Tradition One: “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.”

Q. Why don’t the “online members” vote on the Zoom schedule, and the “clubroom members” vote on the clubroom schedule?

A. There are no “online members” or “clubroom members”, just St. Vital Group members. Some members attend online, some in-person, and some at a mix of both meetings. In A.A., a Group Conscience includes the entire group, not just a select group of individuals. The Group Conscience is the collective conscience of the group's members, representing substantial unanimity on issues involving the group.

**REVISED following the April 13th Committee Meeting**

Q. Why is the Group Conscience being held as a hybrid meeting, both online and in the clubroom?

A. Though our Group Conscience meetings are held in the clubroom, concerns brought to the committee from our membership over the current rise in COVID cases lead to a discussion and vote to approve conducting a hybrid meeting for the Group Conscience. This will allow for the greatest possible participation from our membership. Members will be able to attend, participate in the discussion, and vote on the Group Conscience items, either in-person at the clubroom or online in our Zoom room.

**ADDED following the April 13th Committee Meeting**

Q. Masks are no longer mandated by Public Health Order. Why do I have to wear one to attend the Group Conscience meeting in the clubroom?

A. To encourage maximum attendance and participation at the Group Conscience, the Group Committee voted to make mask-wearing mandatory at the clubroom for the Group Conscience meeting. This to ensure that all our members (including those who do not have access to attend online) have a safe way to be part of the Group Conscience.


Contact & Mailing Address

Telephone: 204-233-2990

Email: stvitalgroup@gmail.com

The St. Vital Group
C-553 St Mary's Road
Winnipeg, MB, Canada
R2M 3L4

Alcoholics Anonymous Manitoba Central Office
Telephone: 204-942-0126
Email: aambco@mts.net

Alcoholics Anonymous Area 80 Website
aamanitoba.org


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