The Central Office’s Place Within A. A.’s 12 Traditions

The Central Office and the Twelve Traditions

The Central Office constantly works to insure that its operations are in compliance with the letter and spirit of A.A.’s Twelve Traditions. This page has been compiled to help A.A. members understand how the Traditions apply to the Central Office’s operations.

Tradition One:  Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on A.A. unity.

At every turn, the Central Office works to unify and include every A.A. member and group in its activities, and to encourage participation in all parts of A.A. recovery and service.

Tradition Two:  For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

The Central Office provides coordination, information and experience, it is not a “command center.”  It offers a central point of contact for people outside of A.A. seeking information, and it provides 24 hour availability for alcoholics in need seeking help. It does not dictate any “policies and procedures” to groups, and while it may offer suggestions about how groups might conduct their affairs when asked, it never requires any group do anything.

Tradition Three: The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.

From the long form: “Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group …” The Central Office serves all A.A. groups in its service area, regardless of whether or not they contribute financially to the support of the Central Office, no matter what language they use, and no matter how large they are.

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

The Kansas City Central Office operates independently of other intergroups and central offices.  While we do not take direction from other organizations, we do communicate and consult with other intergroups on matters of shared experience and importance.

Tradition Five:  Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

Just as each group has a single purpose, the Central Office has a similar primary purpose: To help the alcoholic who still suffers find A.A. members and groups. All of the Central Office’s activities are carried out what that purpose in mind.

Tradition Six:  An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, or prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

The Central Office works hard to maintain a separation of physical and monetary from the spiritual, and it adheres to policies that promote separation and non-affiliation. The Central Office does not refer people to treatment centers or medical facilities; does not maintain or distribute meeting schedules for other 12 Step fellowships like Al-Anon and Narcotics Anonymous. While the Central Office will refer people who would be better served by those organizations to them, we never endorse one over another.

Tradition Seven: Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

The Kansas City Central Office is fully self-supporting through the contributions of the A.A. members and groups it serves, and through its own activities, such as literature sales. It does not accept contributions from any non-A.A. member or organization.

Tradition Eight: Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

The Kansas City Central Office and its employees do not do A.A. 12th Step work as part of their paid duties. Instead, they make it easier for A.A. members to do 12th Step work. As a first contact with both alcoholics in need and the general public, the Central Office matches the caller with an A.A. member who can help meet the caller’s needs. While our special workers are A.A. members, and while they do the usual A.A. 12th Step work on their personal time, they are never paid for that work.

Tradition Nine: A.A. as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

The Central Office is governed by the Board and the Central Office Delegates. The Board is elected on a rotating basis; both individuals and groups rotate holding seats. The Central Office Delegates are elected by their groups for varying terms, and while no formal policy requires specific term limits or rotation requirements, most groups elect Delegates for terms ranging from six months to two years, and force rotation after one or two terms.

Tradition Ten: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

The Kansas City Central Office has no opinion on issues that do not directly affect its mission. From time to time, the Central Office is asked about all sorts of issues in A.A., from smoking in groups, parking problems and choosing a meeting space. The internal workings of any group are its own business, and the Central Office does not advocate anything. Although it does offer suggestions and accumulated experience of groups in its service area, it does not make rules or decisions on behalf of groups that are beyond its traditional authority.

Tradition Eleven: Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather that promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.

The Kansas City Central Office maintains personal anonymity in public displays for both A.A. members in general and for its employees in particular. All Central Office activities are conducted with anonymity in mind.

Tradition Twelve: Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all of our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

The Central Office strives to maintain the spiritual ideal of A.A.’s Steps and Traditions in everything that it does, and both its paid and volunteer workers keep adherence to our Traditions in mind at all times.

The “short form” of the Twelve Traditions are reprinted from “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.” Copyright 1952, 1953, 1981 by the A.A. Grapevine Inc. and Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing (now known as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.). Reprinted with permission.