Each April, Area Delegates join with Al‑Anon’s Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, voting members of the World Service Office (WSO) Staff, and other WSO personnel to participate in Al‑Anon’s annual business meeting: the World Service Conference (WSC).

Although I haven’t served as a Delegate, I have attended 16 World Service Conferences in my role as the WSO’s Associate Director—Conference. Here are some interesting insights I have observed about a Delegate’s role at the WSC.

There’s a lot of reading!

Not just for Delegates, but for all Conference members. As you might imagine, there are numerous documents to read prior to Conference. For the 2022 WSC, there were 106 pages to read in these four documents alone: Annual Report, Audit Report, Chosen Agenda Items, and the Conference Procedures document. And that’s just the beginning of the list!

No need to fret, though, if you are considering standing for Delegate, as the Conference Leadership Team and Conference Staff begin posting the required reading in January.

Some documents are confidential.

Certain documents posted prior to Conference are marked “Confidential.” This may be because: the Conference, as a body, has not discussed the documents; the Conference has not approved motions related to the documents; the Board has not approved the documents; or sharing these types of documents with Area members prior to the actions stated above may misinform or create misunderstanding among our members. Delegates are responsible for ensuring confidentiality is maintained.

The days are long.

Considering that the WSC accomplishes an incredible amount of work each April, all Conference members put in long days to complete the business of the WSC. Check out the World Service Conference Summaries (P-46) from years past, available on al-anon.org, to get an idea of how much and what kind of business gets done, along with an impression of how long the hours used to be when Conference frequently met until midnight!

Delegates are free to vote as their conscience dictates and not necessarily as instructed by their Areas.

What?! That’s right. The Concept Three descriptive text on page 186 in the 2022–2025 Al‑Anon/Alateen Service Manual (P-24/27) v2 notes that “the ‘instructed’ Delegate who cannot act according to his own conscience on a final WSC vote would not be a ‘trusted servant’ at all but a messenger.”

In closing

Despite the amount of effort involved, Delegates consistently share in their outgoing talks to the WSC how their three-year journey serving the worldwide fellowship has offered them incredible growth and an unparalleled sense of connection. The same opportunity to grow through becoming a Delegate is ultimately available to any Al‑Anon member who gets involved in service at their group, District, and then Area levels. Perhaps I’ll see you there one day!

By Suzanne M., Associate Director—Conference

The Forum, April 2023

“Inside Al-Anon Family Groups” presents news, policy, and commentary from volunteers, staff and readers sharing experience through service. Please feel free to reprint these articles on your service structure website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.