I had a lot to learn about group records when I came to work at the World Service Office (WSO). Although I had held a number of Area service positions, I never managed the Area records. What I remembered about how it worked was what I learned as a newcomer: at every Assembly the Area Secretary distributed piles of “computer printouts” (remember the green bar paper with the perforated edges?) to each District Representative with the instructions, “These are the groups in your District. Make sure they all get updated and sent back to the World Service Office!”

The WSO no longer mails green bar reports to the Areas. We evolved to sending an Annual Update Sheet to each group’s Current Mailing Address. Changes—hundreds of forms every year—are mailed back to the WSO and processed by the AFG Records team. Accurate records provide each group with “a link to worldwide Al‑Anon and Alateen that assures unity of purpose and a common bond of love and friendship available to each member” [“Benefits of Registration with the WSO,” 2019-2021 Al‑Anon/Alateen Service Manual (P-24/27), p. 28].

In 2020, we evolved again. We discontinued mailing the Annual Update Sheet, but the need for current information—for a link to worldwide Al‑Anon and Alateen—remains. We are asking each group to please take a few minutes this year to review your group details—day and time; location and location instructions (if physical); meeting ID, phone number, and password (if online or phone); Current Mailing Address; language spoken, etc. If any of these have changed, please use one of the online forms available at al‑anon.org/groupupdate to let us know. (If you aren’t sure of your group details, check with your Area Group Records Coordinator or al‑anon.org/meetingsearch to verify.)

Please note there has been an update to the form this year stating that registered groups have permission to display—in an electronic format and without alteration—the Suggested Welcome, Preamble, Suggested Closing, Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts of Service. While groups have always had permission to use these, some members were not sure if it was okay to display them in meetings. This language seeks to clarify that it is. We know these tools are essential to well-run meetings, and we are here to support that. We appreciate the flexibility, patience, ingenuity, and perseverance members have shown in figuring out how to continue to hold vibrant, thriving Al‑Anon meetings every day.

By Kerri K., Associate Director—International

The Forum, March 2021

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or in your newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.