Tradition Four – Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

Each of us should have at least one Home Group. A Home Group is one that we regularly attend, support financially and serve whenever possible. It is possible to have more than one, but they all must meet these requirements. Our home group is one that interprets and practices the principles of the Steps, Traditions and Concepts in such a way that keeps us sober. Our home group is “like minded”, therefore we have no point of contention with the group we call home. There are many reasons for this with regard to our recovery. The culture of “auditing” groups and never making a commitment does not promote personal recovery for it lacks true accountability – the main reason for being a member of a 12 Step fellowship.

Having a home group also has a purpose in regard to the Traditions. It is the only place where we cast a vote in a group conscience. In fact, we make an effort to be present, informed and to have consulted our Higher Power for any and all of our business meetings. If we have worked the Steps, had the promised spiritual awakening and have reviewed the Traditions with a sponsor, then we should participate in the discussion and vote. If by happenstance we find ourselves at the business meeting of another group, we may offer our experience, strength and hope if asked, but we do not vote. Casting our vote or offering our unsolicited opinion in the group conscience of another meeting are actions we might take that may affect other groups.

Each group has the right to conduct its affairs as it wishes. Each group has its own personality just as each person does. We must respect and honor the way other groups conduct their meetings and business. We never disparage them or run them down. At worst we may only say about another group, “I tried it their way and it didn’t work for me.” In making negative comments about other groups we also violate our First Tradition, for this sort of negativity destroys our unity.

The S.A.A. groups are the ultimate authority in the organizational chart of the International Service Organization of S.A.A. They express their will by sending a voting delegate to the ISO Annual Conference usually held over Memorial Day weekend. See the ISO bylaws for details on this process. If each group is earnestly seeking God’s will in their respective group conscience, then ultimately the entire fellowship should be run by God, at least in theory.

The group may take many actions, but actions that affect other groups or S.A.A. as a whole may include but are not limited to: retreats; speaker conferences; special meetings; showing support or withdrawing support for the ISO, regional committees, area committees and/or intergroups. When taking such actions, our home group should make an effort to inform other affected entities, then consider their responses. We must remember that we, as individuals and as a group, are only a part of a larger fellowship. Though we may not agree with the conduct of other groups or the Fellowship as a whole, we must always hold in our minds their/it’s welfare. Meddling in the affairs of other groups puts us in a position of self-righteousness. As groups or individuals we do this when we have an attitude of moral superiority. This attitude of self-promotion and self-seeking is dangerous to our own sobriety. While another group may be right or wrong, it is not for us to judge.

We must always remember the loners, internationals and the incarcerated though they may not have a group or meeting to turn to for help or representation. It is true that a group will eventually take shape around a member who is properly practicing the 12 Step program, but until then such individuals may rely on other groups for support and guidance. An individual’s recovery does not depend on the group, but we often look to members of the fellowship who are healthily practicing this program to learn how to properly practice it ourselves. So too is it for the loners, internationalists and the incarcerated. The members, the groups and the Fellowship each serve a purpose (see Tradition 5). We are here to support each other in that purpose.