Charter Members have the right to:

A. Individual choice and self-determination. God endows each Charter Member with gifts and talents, which, along with their experiences, education and training--physically, intellectually and spiritually--help to compose the unique person they are. Each individual has the right to exercise his personal initiative, faith and choice in the use of his gifts, talents, education and experience, providing these are consistent with the goals of the overall Family and the "Fundamental Family Rules," and with the agreed-upon goals and Home regulations of the Home in which they reside. If they determine that they cannot exercise these rights in their present circumstances, they have the right to attempt to change their circumstances through their Home council meetings, through the election of the Home's officers, through moving to another Home or the pioneering of their own Home.
         The term "individual choice" is used to stress that each and every Charter Member of voting age has just that--the right to choose the things he or she wants to do. Of course, if you choose to do things that are not in agreement with what the Family is all about, then you may be in jeopardy of losing your membership, or if you wish, you can choose to leave the Family.
         The definition of self-determination is: "Determination of one's own fate or course of action without compulsion." This is included to ensure you the right to make personal choices without anyone compelling you to do something you don't want to do. The definitions of compel are: "To force, drive, or constrain; to necessitate or pressure by force; to exert a strong, irresistible force on." As Dad said,
"We have to choose for ourselves, find His will for ourselves, seek Him diligently to know His will, and to know what is best for us and others through our knowledge of His Word and personal experience. This is why He put us here, this is what we're here to learn, and the major part of our training: How to make the right decisions through our personal contact with Him, our knowledge of His Word and His will, and our love for Him and others" (ML #238:9).
         Throughout the Letters, Dad and Mama have said that each individual should determine his own course of action without anyone pressuring, forcing, or exerting strong, irresistible force on him to do something he doesn't want to do. We trust that you love the Lord enough and are spiritually mature enough to make the right decisions through prayer, His Word and Godly counsel. The only One Who should compel or constrain us to do anything is Jesus. "For the Love of Christ
constraineth us" (2 Corinthians 5:14). His Word and your love for Him are what should motivate you to do the right things, not because someone is making you do them, but because you choose to out of love. If you must be forced to obey and follow the Lord rather than obey Him because you love Him, then you're not a very strong disciple.
         This doesn't mean that you should now "do your own thing" and act however you want without any concern for others or the Family. If you wish to remain a Charter Member, you must operate within the boundaries of the "Charter of Responsibilities and Rights" and the "Fundamental Family Rules." And as long as you do, you are free to follow the Lord as you feel led, without anyone forcing you to do anything you don't feel is God's will for you.
         You have the right to exercise your personal initiative and faith and to be in a Home where you are best able to do so. If not, you have the right to try to change the situation through your voting power, or move to a different Home, or pioneer your own Home with those who are like-minded; or if you feel you have no place in the Family, you are free to leave if you choose.

         The most successful [movements] were those who allowed the greatest liberty, difference of opinion, individual initiative and ingenuity and indigenuity--who put the people on their own as much as possible (MOP 33:47).
         You are expected to make your own decisions within the boundaries of these guidelines, on your own, and with the Lord's help, and only refer it to your leaders if it's something they have to decide, and that you're not allowed to decide, because if you don't start learning how to make decisions now for at least yourself, you'll never be a leader.--And we need leaders, not robots or slaves! (ML #127:14.)

B. Determine by prayer, discussion, debate and voting, the basic nature, goals, direction and activities of the Home, providing they are consistent with the goals of the continental area in which they reside, and of the overall Family.
         You have the right to help decide the direction, the goals and the basic nature of your Home, and the activities that your Home undertakes to meet those goals. You have the right to pray, discuss with others, and debate any issues in your Home council meetings before voting on a course of action.
         Under the
Election Rules, which are found in the "Fundamental Family Rules", unless specified otherwise, when a vote is taken on any matter, the majority rules. So if over 50% of the Home's voting members agree with something, then it is passed. This means that if there is a tie vote then the measure is not passed. There are some matters that require two-thirds of the voting members' agreement before passage, including all financial matters, certain personnel changes, and disciplinary matters.

         All decisions of any kind should never be dictated by one person, without agreement by other leaders and/or the rest of the body, as seems necessary. ... Any decisions made on the part of any individuals without such due consultation and agreement could be considered null and void, because others affected were not consulted nor conferred with. This is the way we personally have always operated even within our own tiny personal family. (ML #210:40.)

         One portion of this clause states, "providing they are consistent with the goals of the continental area in which they reside." Later it will be explained about continental area goals and how these are determined. (See
Basic Responsibilities of the Charter Home, E., and Election Rules, D.) In brief, Homes will have the opportunity to vote on, and confirm every six months, individual continental area goals. But once such goals are agreed upon and enacted, then the Homes in the area must abide by them. Obviously, another very important stipulation of Home decisions is that they must also "be consistent with the goals of the overall Family," that is, those stated in the Charter itself or specifically announced as such by World Services (see Basic Responsibilities of the Charter Home, E. 1. a.).

C. Make the decision on medical matters involving themselves or their children.
         We believe that divine healing is a privilege available to all who believe in Jesus. The decision to avail yourself of that privilege is a personal matter between you and God. Generally it is recommended to trust the Lord for your healing, but we understand that the Lord works in each of our lives in different ways, and in some cases He may want someone to get the help of a doctor. When it comes to healing, the decision whether to trust God completely for healing or to seek medical help is up to you. "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29). Dad said
, "God wants you to make your own choice by faith according to your own faith--not mine, not ours, not somebody else's, but yours!" (ML #M:45.)
         The first step when someone is sick would be to seek prayer from the Home. As the Bible says, "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him" (James 5:14).
         If the illness is such that you might wish to seek medical attention, it is advisable to pray with and seek counsel from the Home teamwork. In more serious cases where grave medical decisions must be made, we suggest that the Home pray and hear from the Lord in prophecy for the person. Receiving such prophecies can provide wonderful guidance and great comfort and assurance for the sick one. Sometimes prophecies can be rather mysterious, but because they are words given by the One Who knows our innermost heart and needs, specifically for the one with sickness, the interpretation of the prophecies and final course of action must be determined by the sick individual. Because healing is a personal matter, the sick one must make the final medical decisions based on his or her personal faith. (See also
Prophecy Rules, C.) The other members of the Home should continue to encourage and help the sick member no matter what decision they make, even if the others feel it's the wrong one.
         If you are a parent with children in the Family, the medical decisions regarding your under-age children are
your responsibility to make and they should be made in your child's best interests. (See Rights of Parents, G.)
         There are some legal factors to consider when making medical decisions for your children. This includes the ages when children can make their own medical decisions. As far as the Family is concerned, those who have reached the age of 16 are eligible to make their own medical decisions in countries where this is legal.
         Of course in an emergency, if an adult is unconscious, or otherwise incapacitated, then the husband or wife, or in the case of a single the Home teamwork, is responsible to pray and make whatever medical decisions are necessary to help the individual. If it is a child, it is the parents or legal guardians who have the responsibility to decide what should be done.

         As for just trusting God, you've either got the faith or you haven't!--You don't try to work it up!--You just know if you haven't got that kind of supernatural miraculous faith, ... you'd better beat it to the nearest hospital and doctor and feel no condemnation about it! (ML #330C:51.)
         The parents themselves must make their own [medical] decisions under the counsel and guidance of their own local shepherd ... with the help of the local System's own medical services, immediately and on the spot (ML #330B:29).

D. Privately communicate, without hindrance, directly via mail with Maria and Peter, World Services and all officers above the Home's officers in their continental area, and to have the mailing address or addresses of these persons readily available to them.
         Every Home member has the right to be able to communicate with any or all leadership in their area above their Home teamwork, and directly with Mama and Peter or WS, if they so desire. An address for all of these shepherds must be readily available to them. If someone chooses to write to higher leadership, no one should try to stop or hinder them or demand to read the letter before it is sent. You have an open line of communication to leadership, so if you feel you need to write for any reason, you are free to do so. Each area should provide a local address for you to write your continental or area office, and your letters to Mama or WS can be forwarded on by them. But if you would prefer, -you can write Mama or WS directly at World Services, Postfach 3624, 8021 Zurich, Switzerland, or at Mama's e-mail address, MPG@IBM.NET.

         Dad and I receive many personal letters from DO and TS members alike in which you pour out your hearts about your situation, or about questions you have. To us, each one of these letters is very precious, and your burdens become our burdens; your heartache becomes our heartache. ... Each of you is special to us! Please believe this. Don't ever doubt it. ... We appreciate your openness and honesty. We are thankful for your suggestions, for your questions and for your analyses of various situations. You're a vital part of our Family and we are interested in what you have to say.--Maria (ML #2931:1-2,4).

E. Remain in the Charter Family providing they conduct themselves as Charter Members as outlined in the Responsibilities of Individual Members.
         If you are fulfilling the
Responsibilities of Individual Members, and are keeping the "Fundamental Family Rules," you cannot be moved to Fellow Member status, nor be excommunicated, as you have the right to remain in the Charter Family.

F. Become a Fellow Member, providing they conduct themselves as Fellow Members as outlined in the Statement on Fellow Members.
         This publication clearly defines what Fellow Member status is, and what one has to do to qualify for and to remain a Fellow Member. Any Charter Member who wishes to move to Fellow Member status has the right to do so as long as they abide by the Fellow Member stipulations.

G. Depart from Charter or Fellow Member status and no longer be part of the Family at any time they desire, provided they are of legal age. Minors may only depart with parental permission.
         Anyone of legal age is free to leave the Family at any time they wish. No one is forced to remain. In fact, if someone wants to go, then we want and encourage he or she to do so. We are not in the business of trying to coerce anyone to remain in the Family who desires otherwise; on the contrary, we are a Gideon's Band, and only those who want to be here should be.

         It's always been our personal policy, when we found someone wanted to leave, to simply ask them why, maybe answer any questions they might have or correct any misunderstandings which may be responsible, apologize for any of our mistakes which might have caused them to want to leave, but not to discourage them from leaving if they still want to (ML #140:11).
         If you do not agree with our doctrines, practices or leadership and wish to be free of our fellowship, you are welcome to leave at any time! (ML #173:5.)

         If one or more of your minor children decide that they no longer wish to be in the Family and live with you in a Charter Home, then you could try to help them get relocated with others who will provide adequate care for them, such as with relatives if possible. Or, they can remain with you in a Charter Home providing they follow the stipulations outlined in
Definition of a Charter Home , C. 3. If they are old enough to strike out on their own, you should assist them in getting set up in a proper situation outside a Family Home. If they choose, they may also remain in the Home temporarily, in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. Remember, they are still your and God's children, even though they may be wayward, so you should show them love, concern and care. (See ML #2942, "When Teens Leave the Family," GN 608.)

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family