The 19th International Al‑Anon General Services Meeting (IAGSM) opened on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, at the Holiday Inn in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Rosie M., Chairperson of the International Coordination Committee, warmly welcomed representatives from 16 structures by saying, “Our common bond, described in our Third Tradition, reflects that we are affected by someone else’s drinking. Al‑Anon is a unique fellowship that unites members of different backgrounds, races, and walks of life in an inspiring endeavor. We may speak different languages, but we are united by that common bond. Therefore, we are connected from the heart.”

In her keynote address, Vali F., Executive Director of the World Service Office, spoke on the theme of the IAGSM—Leading by Example: Structures Supporting Structures. “As the clearinghouse for the worldwide fellowship of Al‑Anon Family Groups, we are responsible for supporting structures, while more and more we are called upon to [lead] by example.” She also spoke of the challenges facing our organization—“In this time of enormous change in our environment—the influx and influence of technology upon our daily lives and relationships—change is inevitable; stagnation is not an option. Our ability to adjust our perspectives may become paramount to our ability to continue to fulfill our primary purpose as a worldwide fellowship. My experience suggests change requires support, which can only be executed in a culture of trust.”

We used our time together to address many of these challenges, including the expanding influence of social media, the possibilities for increased participation in service meetings through the use of technology, and application of our spiritual principles in business, policy, and financial discussions. Through their active participation and open sharing, the Delegates made significant contributions to the future prosperity of Al‑Anon around the world. Some of the reflections the Delegates shared at the close of the IAGSM include:

  • “I thought our problems were unique to our Structure, but they are not. We are truly united in a worldwide fellowship.”
  • “The variety of topics was useful, and it renewed my enthusiasm and provided me with lots of information to share and new ways of sharing it.”
  • “I am going home with more experience and courage.”

By Kerri K., Associate Director—International Services

The Forum, March 2019