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When can a group conscience be taken?

I had a disagreement with something a meeting's secretary was doing during a recent meeting. I asked the group for a show of hands on how to handle it.
In response the secretary said that the issue could only be addressed at the group's regular business meeting. Is there a policy on when a group conscience can be held - can they only be taken during business meetings?
Only a group conscience can decide when a group conscience can be held.

Most groups start out very small (usually two guys and a coffee pot) and the first group consciences are often very informal. As the group grows its policy on how group issues are handled tend to evolve. Many small groups never have "business meetings" and handle group matters in brief informal discussions. Some groups grow so large they feel they need scheduled business meetings, take minutes, and print copies of their group policies. (Some groups even attempt to follow parliamentary rules of order!)

There is no AA rule, policy or guideline that suggests such matters should or must be dealt with in business meetings. In our experience, it's uncommon for a group to decide when a group conscience is permissible (but a group can decide to operate that way). By Tradition a group is supposed to get by with the least amount of organization possible so it is rare to find a group that has policies that are that in depth.

The fellow you have the disagreement with may simply be assuming that all decisions in your group are handled a certain way. Asking if the group does have a set practice for when a conscience can be taken or made couldn't hurt.

Taking a group conscience is not always done in business meetings. It can sometimes happen on the spot and sometimes simply by the members of the group talking to each other about something on an ongoing basis until the group gets general feel for what it wants. There are times when it is most impractical to wait until a scheduled business meeting; like when a newcomer shows up to a closed meeting with their non-alcoholic spouse. In such cases many groups will take a very quick polling of the meeting to see if anyone objects to letting the spouse stay on that single occasion.

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