Alcoholics Anonymous to Hold 24th World Service Meeting

To Newspapers/Wire Services

September 14, 2016


The hand of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) extends – literally – around the globe. Today, an A.A. presence can be found in more than 181 nations worldwide, with membership estimated at over two million. There are more than 117,700 A.A. groups around the world and A.A.’s literature has been translated into languages as diverse as Afrikaans, Arabic, Hindi, Nepali, Persian, Swahili, and Vietnamese, among many others.

Critical in these efforts to carry the message across boundaries of geography, culture, language and race has been the development and growth of the World Service Meeting and from October 23-27, 2016, delegates representing A.A. from around the world will gather at the Hilton Westchester Hotel in Rye Brook, New York, for the organization’s 24th World Service Meeting (WSM). Hosted by the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous of the United States and Canada, the event will bring together some 61 delegates from over 40 different countries or linguistic zones around the world.

Since its inauguration in 1969, the WSM has provided a continuing international forum for shared experience and ideas on carrying the A.A. message of recovery from alcoholism. The event alternates biennially between New York and other locations around the globe, and has convened in such diverse cities as Cartagena, Colombia; Auckland, New Zealand; Oviedo, Spain; Malahide, Ireland; Mexico City, Mexico; and Warsaw, Poland.

Described as a living and growing exchange of experience responding to the needs of A.A. worldwide, sessions will be conducted in English and Spanish, with simultaneous translation in a number of languages, and will cover a broad range of issues pertinent to the development of A.A. in the participating countries -- issues such as anonymity, carrying the message to underserved populations, the most effective use of technology and how best to work with professionals in the field of alcoholism.  

The theme of the WSM will be “One World – One A.A. – One Language of the Heart,” reflecting the words of A.A. cofounder, Bill W., who wrote in 1960, “From the beginning, communication in A.A. has been no ordinary transmission of helpful ideas and attitudes.  Because of our kinship in suffering, and because our common means of deliverance are effective for ourselves only when constantly carried to others, our channels of contact have always been charged with the language of the heart.”

Over the past four decades, the WSM has succeeded in bringing together far-flung A.A. service centers and reflects a final vision of Bill W., who believed there could be “one world of A.A.” to assure that help would always be available for sick alcoholics wherever they might be or whatever language they might speak.  It was Bill W.’s belief that A.A. membership on other continents would someday exceed that of the U.S. and Canada, and the success of the World Service Meeting is proof that the Fellowship will continue to thrive and grow wherever the need for recovery exists.

As spelled out in its Preamble, “Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.  The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.  There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.”  

Tracing its beginnings back to 1935 and the connection that was forged between Bill W., a stockbroker from New York, and Dr. Bob S., of Akron, Ohio, a physician who also suffered from alcoholism, the A.A. Fellowship has grown literally around the world.

The General Service Office in New York City will be coordinating the WSM.

For more information, contact the International desk at the General Service Office at or (212) 870-3021.

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