The "Love Charter," which is made up of the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and the "Fundamental Family Rules," was not written to legislate righteousness. Our hope and prayer is that these documents will help us to fulfil Jesus' two most important commandments: To love God and each other.
The "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" attempts to clearly define the responsibilities which Charter Members, Homes and leadership are expected to live up to as the standard of discipleship. It also explains the rights of the individual Charter Member and of Family parents and children, as well as the rights of the Charter Home. The Charter also defines the methods to be used in the governing of our Family Homes, and the authority of all levels of leadership.
The rule that should be emphasized above all is the Law of Love. We should strive to make it the cardinal rule by which we all abide when exercising our rights, when fulfilling our responsibilities, and when obeying the rules. "And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8).
Before you begin reading the Charter itself, here are a few words of explanation to guide you in your study of it:
* The format of the Charter: You'll notice that it is presented in two levels. The first level printed in bold text is the root clause, followed by the explanation in normal text. The root clauses carry more weight than the explanation because they are the precisely worded statutes which make up the core of the Charter.
* The explanations are included to help clarify and explain the root clauses, and to help you catch the spirit or intent of the root clause. Within some of the explanations there are examples and scenarios included to help you see the practical application of the root clauses. Obviously these examples and scenarios do not cover every situation, nor are they meant to be laws in themselves. They are included simply to better help you catch the spirit of the rule itself. All references to other sections of this book have been italicized.
In some cases there are confirmatory quotes from the Letters or WS advisories, usually included at the end of the explanations, with these quotes offset with indentation.
* Terms in the Charter: You will notice throughout the root clauses of the Charter that we don't use the term "Home teamworks" when referring to shepherds and leaders of the Home. We call them the "Home's officers." Likewise, the CROs are often referred to as "continental officers" and your VSs as "area officers" throughout the Charter. The Charter is designed to be an enduring document. So rather than having to update the root clauses every time the Family changes terms like "colony shepherd" to "Home servant," or "Home teamwork" to "Home shepherds," and so forth, we have opted for these more general terms, such as "Home officers." However, in the explanation sections of the Charter, those parts not in bold text, we have used the more common terms like Home teamwork, etc. (You will find a list of definitions for many terms following this preface.)
In the root clauses, when the CROs are referred to individually they are called the "continental officers"; when they are referred to collectively they are called the "continental office." Likewise, when Visiting Servants (VSs) are referred to individually, they are "area officers" and collectively as the "area office." There will be no more NAS, GAS, DAS or LAS positions. Between the Home teamwork level and the CRO level, the only actual "area officer" leadership will be Visiting Servants (VSs), appointed by the CROs and subject to a vote of confirmation by the Homes every six months.
* The "Fundamental Family Rules": Following the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights," you will find the "Fundamental Family Rules," which is a summary of all rules and guidelines from past Letters which are still in effect with the enactment of the Charter.
* Appendixes: A section of helpful appendixes follows the "Fundamental Family Rules," containing: A glossary with definitions of some of the more complex words; a section of forms; the Home Self-Evaluation Checklist; updated Home Election Guidelines; a summary of the "Family Discipline Guidelines;" a Reading List for Fellow Members Changing to CM or Those on Partial Excommunication, the updated Babes Basic Course, a suggested list of Priority Reading for New Disciples' First Year in the Family, and our Statement on Fellow Members. (All of these appendixes may be photocopied.)
* Index: At the very end of this book you'll find a thorough index which will direct you to all the references on any given topic in the Charter.
* Amendments: This symbol <<[New]>> in the left margin means that the clause or explanation has been amended since the first edition of the Charter.
* Age designation: Although the full application of the Charter is for Charter Members who are 16 and older, children under that age are also generally expected to uphold the same standard of behavior outlined in the Charter. However a child's parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must agree to any disciplinary procedures for Charter infractions by their children. (See also Rights of Parents, point C.)
* Local laws: The Charter covers the Family's religious beliefs and policies. Certain Charter policies may not conform to the laws in every single country, so be sure to check the laws regarding your activities in the country in which you live.
It is our sincere and desperate prayer that you, our Family, will understand and apply the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and the "Fundamental Family Rules" in a loving manner, and in so doing will be happier and more fulfilled than ever in your service for Jesus!
Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family