When I started attending Al‑Anon meetings, I remember seeing a three-ring binder in the group’s supply cabinet. I had no idea what was in the booklets it contained. A couple of years later, I began working at a local Al‑Anon Information Service/Literature Distribution Center, and I became more familiar with those booklets while selling Conference Approved Literature and service material.

Those four separate booklets—Al‑Anon and Alateen Groups at Work (P-24); Digest of Al‑Anon and Alateen Policies; World Service Handbook; and Al‑Anon’s Twelve Concepts of Service—are now part of the 2018-2021 Al‑Anon/Alateen Service Manual (P-24/27). So, what is the “World Service Handbook,” and why is it an important service tool for Al‑Anon members to read and reference? Page 136 in the “World Service Handbook” section of the Service Manual states, “This ‘World Service Handbook’ explains how Al‑Anon is held together worldwide, how it is structured, how each member who is elected or appointed to a particular responsibility can best function in it.”

The “Handbook” is a guidebook. There’s a helpful sub-section entitled, “Terms Used in Al‑Anon Service” at the beginning of it. Some of the terms include General Service Office (GSO), Panel, and World Services. Another sub-section, “World Service Conference,” is of particular interest to me as Associate Director—Conference at the World Service Office (WSO). It details the purposes of the Conference, as well as its historical background, composition, agenda, and the way in which the Conference is financed.

Speaking of the Conference, it is held each year in April. According to the Service Manual, “The World Service Conference makes the group conscience available and effective for all Al‑Anon. It is the practical means by which the group conscience can speak; it is the voice of world Al‑Anon and the guarantee that our world services shall continue to carry on under all conditions.” (“World Service Handbook” section of the Service Manual, page 160).

The Introduction to the “Handbook” begins, “This is your ‘World Service Handbook.’ It is for every member of our fellowship who has found the personal benefits and satisfactions that come from taking an active part in Al‑Anon’s growth” (page 136). Would you like to take an active part in Al‑Anon’s growth? I hope you’ll take a look at the “World Service Handbook” and consider an opportunity to serve.

By Suzanne M., Associate Director—Conference

The Forum, April 2019