Q: At my first OA business meeting, I heard that for a group to be considered an OA group, it must read the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions at each regular meeting. Is this correct? I know it is suggested, but couldn’t our group decide to read “How it Works” and one Tradition, or some other configuration, instead?
A: I, too, have heard this rumor about reading the Steps and Traditions at meetings. The Bylaws of Overeaters Anonymous, Inc., state clearly what makes an OA group.
“These points shall define an Overeaters Anonymous group:
As a group, they meet to practice the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, guided by the Twelve Concepts of OA Service.
All who have the desire to stop eating compulsively are welcome in the group.
No member is required to practice any actions in order to remain a member or to have a voice (share at a meeting).
As a group they have no affiliation other than Overeaters Anonymous.
It has affiliated as an Overeaters Anonymous group by registering with the World Service Office.” (Bylaws Subpart B, Article 5.1).
This says that “they meet to practice the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,” not that those have to be read at every meeting. But it may disappoint some members when only one Tradition is read. All the Traditions work together, and understanding them works best when all are read at every meeting.
But your group may choose to read “How It Works” and one Tradition, rather than reading all the Traditions. If a group reads non-OA Steps and Traditions, then it might not be an OA group. And it is against Tradition to change the wording of the Steps or Traditions. I have attended meetings where the group did not include the Traditions, and I am sure I have been to meetings where groups did not read the Steps.
Reading all Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions at each meeting is an activity that helps a meeting be stronger, but this is an area where Tradition Four is most relevant: “Each group is autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or OA as a whole.” The members of the group agree among themselves that this is what they want to do.
I would also urge reading the Twelve Concepts of OA Service and remembering Tradition Twelve: “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all these Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
Does your group meet to practice the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA? Is your group registered with the World Service Office? Are all who want to stop eating compulsively welcome? Are members required to practice any actions in order to share or be a part of the group? Does your group have any other affiliations? If your answers are “yes” to the first three questions and “no” to the last two, then you are an OA group.
— Members of the Board of Trustees provide answers to these questions
Ask-It Basket Archive
Click on the link below to see an archive of previous Ask-It Basket questions and answers. Remember that these answers are the opinions of individual members of the Board of Trustees and others may have different opinions. It’s a good idea to read other OA materials that address an issue and ask around in meetings for more opinions. Also keep in mind that circumstances change and opinions are refined over time.