We don't always think of our meetings as tenants, but we are, in a way, tenants of the churches and hospitals and other buildings that host our meetings. I was taught early on that it is important for our groups to be good tenants of the buildings we use. If we are good tenants, we will continue to be welcomed and treated well. If we are not good tenants, we will rightly be tolerated at best or kicked out at worst.
I was thinking of this recently when reading the new annual contract from Skipwith United Methodist Church for one of our meetings there. For about a year now we have been required to lock the outside door fifteen minutes after the meeting begins. It's not always easy to remember to do, and we don't have to do it on Tuesdays, because there's a big AA meeting that day and the door stays open for that. But it is important to the church, so it needs to be important to us. They have a building to care for and liabilities to be concerned with, and it is their call. We need to follow the rules of our landlord.
Similarly, it was a year or two ago that the pastor of the same church spoke to a couple of OA members, asking them to have the meetings consider raising their rent. Costs for heat, air conditioning, light, insurance, custodial services and supplies, and maintenance continue to rise; we have to be conscious of this. We were asked to leave Brookland United Methodist Church when they found that utilities costs were just too much for them to handle, given our needs for heat and air conditioning during the middle of weekdays--not times they would normally heat or cool the church.
I'm a little concerned, too, that we sometimes treat our meeting places like clubhouses--for instance, meeting with sponsees for an hour before or after a meeting. That meeting time and space is not really ours; in general we have the room for an hour, with a few minutes before and after for setup and cleanup. If we need extra time in the meeting place, I think we should reserve it and pay for it.
If the building has a going rate for space, we should be paying that. Many of our hosts don't really have a going rate, and they just ask us to donate what we can. But we should really give some thought to what our meetings can donate, and consider raising the payments if we haven't done that for a long time. Your group might consider discussing this at the next group business meeting.
I had the pleasure this morning of driving to Charlottesville for the Saturday 10 am meeting. It was a gorgeous day for a drive, so I passed a pleasant hour on the way. Nine people were at the meeting, including two folks I know from our online Intergroup meetings; the sponsee of one of those folks, who'd driven down from Maryland do do her fifth step; a nursing student, there to observe; and a woman attending her second OA meeting, though she described having had long experience in another 12 Step program in New York City.
It was a lovely meeting--we opened with a long version of the Set Aside Prayer, read two pages in Step 7 from the OA 12 & 12, and had some great sharing, closing with the "we" version of the Serenity Prayer. And then had a nice chat after the meeting!
During announcements I told them a little about what Central Virginia Intergroup provides, thanks to the donations we receive from groups--a website, a newsletter, a weekly email update for those who want it. We do some public information work, we present 12th Step Within workshops, and we throw a great retreat--this year at Massanetta Springs, near Harrisonburg, September 27-29. Group donations have made it possible for us to offer low rates this year, as well as partial scholarships to members of our intergroup (contact the retreat chair--her name and number are on the retreat registration form, which you can get on richmondoa.org). And we pay for our region representative to attend two region assemblies a year, as well as the World Service Business Conference in New Mexico.
We're looking for service help, too--we need a Fun & Fellowship chair to plan some social events for us, and we'll be needing a new region representative this fall, when our current rep, Catherine W., rotates out of service. In fact, while we're thinking ahead, several officer and committee chair positions will be open in August/September, so start thinking about those service opportunities now!
And you can certainly make sure that your group is represented at our monthly Intergroup meetings--online using Zoom on the first Sunday of the month. If that sounds too technical, we can help you to use Zoom or your phone to attend the meetings--it's pretty simple!
Central Virginia Intergroup is the organization that meetings in our area support with our meeting contributions. Our intergroup has several officers and committee chairs who give service by organizing things our intergroup provides--a website, a phone line, an annual retreat, frequent special events focusing on different aspects of OA recovery, a monthly newsletter, a weekly email update. We also send a delegate to our regional organization (OA Region 7) and OA's World Service Business Conference. We have a Public Information committee that gets information about OA out to people who don't know about us, a secretary who takes and circulates the minutes of our monthly intergroup meetings, and a treasurer who manages the money taken in from the OA meetings in the Richmond/Charlottesville/Fredericksburg area and distributes it to cover our expenses (web hosting, phone line, retreat center, travel expenses for our delegate, etc.) We have a committee devoted to Fun & Fellowship that's supposed to organize social events for our members, but there's no chair for that committee right now--are you looking to give some service?
Each meeting is supposed to have a representative who attends our monthly online intergroup meeting. Does your meeting have a representative? It takes only about an hour a month, and we always send out instructions about how to dial in to the monthly meeting, or to join it online via the Zoom app. If you need some help with the technology, we can provide you with that! Representatives bring the concerns of their meetings to Intergroup and take information back to their groups. It's a wonderful service to give. Has your sponsor been prodding you to make a service commitment?
We'd love to have you join us at our next Intergroup meeting, which will be on Sunday, May 5 at 4 pm. Please call me if you want to know more.
Susie H., Central Virginia Intergroup Chair (804) 337-3752
With the Holiday season moving closer each day, my reflections turn to both gratitude and concern. Gratitude for periods of abstinence that fill me with a sense of peace and hope; and concern, because of the obvious culinary challenges that will be part of the Holiday experience. I've decided to deal with the concern by committing to working with the tools more regularly, especially the phone. The phone has opened-up participation with several of the regularly scheduled phone meetings.
Listening in on these, and the incredible recovery/wisdom of other OA's has been a great encouragement. Sometimes I participate, sometimes just listen. I've found that by leaving my contact number (always optional), other will often pick-up that "oh so heavy" phone, and contact me.
For questions about OA, you may text or call the CVIG OA infoline: (804) 362-9400