The Meeting of Meetings
The 2022 Annual Conference brings together our LifeRing community and representatives for the LifeRing network of recovery meetings.
LIfeRing Secular Recovery is a network of meetings. The connection with other meetings is as vital to LifeRing as the connection with other sober people is vital to an individual in recovery. The greatest sense of connectedness, the biggest radiation of warmth, and the greatest charge of energy comes from the LifeRing Annual Meeting and Congress.
This is an overview of the nature and purposes of the Congress and outlines the key Bylaws provisions that govern selection and power of Congress delegates.
What’s the difference between the LifeRing Secular Recovery Annual Conference, Annual Meeting, Annual Congress, and Delegate’s Assembly?
- Annual Conference is the umbrella term for the two-day event. The Annual Conference is a virtual event and will be hosted through video conferencing. The Conference is open to convenors, volunteers, meeting members and the LifeRing Community. [See also Rules of Procedures]
- Annual Meeting is held on Saturday, June 4, 2022, and is the first day of the Annual Conference. At the Annual Meeting, convenors and the LifeRing Community gather to hear speakers, participate in workshops and socialize.
- Annual Congress is held on Sunday, June 5th 2022, and is the final day of the Annual Conference. The Annual Congress is made up of the Delegates’ Assembly and the LifeRing Secular Recovery Board of Directors meeting.
- Delegates’ Assembly is held on Sunday, June 5th 2022, and is the first segment of the Annual Congress. During the Assembly, BOD nominees and proposed Bylaw changes are brought to the Delegates for review and consideration. Delegates also bring forward their meeting reports for the Assembly to review. Prior to adjournment, Delegates will vote to approve the absentee ballot including BOD nominees and proposed Bylaw changes. The Delegates' Assembly is followed by the LifeRing Secular Recovery Board of Directors meeting.
The Annual LifeRing Conference
Three main things happen at LifeRing Annual Conferences.
- Socializing. This is the one chance of the year for most LifeRing people from different parts of the country and the world to actually meet each other, reaffirm old friendships and build new ones. It's a time for people who only knew one another through emails to meet face-to-face in a video conference.
- Education. LifeRing Conferences, to varying extents, have an educational component: Workshops, seminars, lectures, slide shows, or guest speakers, to which the public may be invited. This part of a Conference shares our best practice.
- Self-Government. The heart of the event is the Assembly of Delegates or business meeting, which is the Congress proper. Here is where reporting and voting takes place.
Annual Congress Roles and Responsibilities
The major players at the Annual Congress are the Meeting Delegates, BOD Nominees, LifeRing Directors and Officers.
- Meeting Delegates give a report on the status and concerns of their particular meeting during the past year. This is followed by a general discussion. Delegates are also responsible for voting on Board of Director candidates and any proposed Bylaw changes.
- BOD Nominees are invited to introduce themselves, bring forward their goals as a board member. Following the Nominee introductions, the floor will be open for Delegates to ask any questions that might support their decision.
- Directors and Officers: The Executive Director presents the Annual Report of LifeRing business since the last Annual Conference. The Treasurer presents a financial report. The Secretary presents the minutes of the previous Congress.
Key Points in the Bylaws
Following is a list of some of the main points of the Bylaws as they pertain to the Congress: who can attend, how voting is done, what is the organizational structure generally, who has the power to do what.
- Delegate Selection. Any LifeRing member can attend the Congress, but only delegates may vote in the Assembly. Except in special settings, the meeting convenor is not automatically the delegate. There are various ways to become the meeting convenor, but to become the delegate there has to be a vote by the meeting’s members. The delegate’s role includes the express power to vote at the Congress, the implied duty to report to the Congress on the meeting’s status, and the implied duty to report back to the meeting after the Congress.
One member, one vote – A LifeRing participant may attend any number of online and in-person meetings, but can cast only one vote for a delegate. It’s the member’s choice in which meeting they cast their vote. Each delegate is entitled to cast one and only one vote.
- Directors and Officers. Any adult LifeRing participant who is in recovery from a substance addiction and has a minimum of two years’ continuous abstinence can serve on the board of directors. Officers (ED Treasurer, and Secretary) need a minimum of one year. Officers’ powers are minimal. Director terms are for three years. Relapse means automatic resignation. Directors and officers serve without pay or expenses.
- Powers of the Board. The board is mandated to act as steward of the organization’s resources and of its reputation, appoint and discharge the officers, and oversee the national operating entities (such as LifeRing Service Center, LifeRing Press).The board has no executive authority over the meetings; it cannot, for example, appoint or dismiss meeting convenors, prescribe meeting formats, or levy dues. In extreme cases, where a meeting has consistently and substantially violated one or more of the three philosophical foundations of LifeRing (sobriety, secularity, self-help), the board is empowered to cancel that meeting’s charter; but the board must defend such an action at the next following Congress
- Powers of the Congress. The Congress proper – The Delegates’ Assembly – is the supreme legislative authority of LifeRing Secular Recovery. It decides all issues within its authority and elects the members of the board. The Congress may not repeal the fundamental philosophy of LifeRing (sobriety, secularity, self-help). The Congress is not answerable to any outside power. LifeRing has no financial sponsor and is no one’s subsidiary. LifeRing is a freestanding, self-supporting, self-governed and self-managed organization.
The bottom line is that each LifeRing meeting is part of a larger network of meetings, which is ultimately an extended family of people. Like every organization, LifeRing has its business side and its internal politics. Whether a convenor chooses to become involved in LifeRing’s business and politics is, of course, up to the individual. But it is part of the convenor’s role “to bring people together,” and nowhere does this mission bring a higher, larger, and more satisfying result than in the LifeRing Congress.