ULC files suit against a North Carolina marriage official
The Universal Life Church Ministries has thousands of active ministers and members across the State of North Carolina, and has vowed to work tirelessly to secure and restore the Constitutional and Spiritual rights of these individuals.

Update: On August 26, 2019, the Universal Life Church Monastery filed a lawsuit against the Cleveland County Register of Deeds, Betsy Harnage, alleging that the County had a policy of refusing to issue marriage licenses to couples who wished to be married by ministers ordained by our Church.  Lawyers for Cleveland County have clarified that no such policy exists.  Based on that representation, the Church is dropping its lawsuit and sincerely apologizes to Ms. Harnage.

The Church is, however, aware of other complaints in North Carolina concerning marriages performed by its ministers, and the Church intends to vindicate the rights of ministers whose rights have been infringed and to prevent discrimination against ULC Ministers in North Carolina.


The Universal Life Church Ministries (ULCM) filed a lawsuit against the Register of Deeds for Cleveland County, North Carolina. The suit alleges that this official has unconstitutionally utilized her position to block ordained ministers of ULCM from exercising their religious right to legally solemnize a wedding ceremony.

The Church claims to have ordained more than 20 million ministers, and wedding announcements across the country frequently indicate that the ceremony was performed by a minister of the ULCM. The Universal Life Church Ministries has long been a vocal advocate for marriage equality, and in many locations its ministers are the only option for those couples seeking a religious wedding ceremony in their area that comports with their values.

The Universal Life Church Ministries has thousands of active ministers and members across the State of North Carolina, and has vowed to work tirelessly to secure and restore the Constitutional and Spiritual rights of these individuals. This suit (Case No. 1:19-cv-00249), which is before the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina – Asheville Division, asks the Court for a judgment declaring that the refusal to recognize the validity of marriages performed by ULCM ministers is unconstitutional in addition to a permanent injunction preventing any actions that would deter or prevent any ULCM minister from officiating over a legal wedding ceremony.

At its founding, the ULCM committed itself to ensuring that all those who feel so-called could become ordained as ministers to marry, bury, and otherwise minister to any who may feel drawn to their personal message – often based on the faith traditions of yesteryear as society continues to integrate and evolve. As attendance in the pews at more traditional churches across the country continues to decline, ULCM has stated that its membership rolls continue to grow exponentially – even declaring themselves “the future of faith.”

The beliefs of the Universal Life Church Ministries derive from its overarching mantra: “We are all Children of the Same Universe.” ULCM states that its members and ministers abide only by two guiding tenets: 1. Do that which is right, and 2. All may freely practice their faith as they see fit, so long as in the course of doing so they don’t infringe on the freedom of any other to do the same.

The Church has previously pledged that it intends to vigorously defend the religious freedoms – guaranteed by the Constitution – of its ministers and members around the country in a national effort marshaled by the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine. The Universal Life Church Ministries continues to urge any ULCM members or ministers who have encountered a government official behaving in a manner that appears intolerant of their faith to contact the Church.

10 comments

  1. Dr.Rev. Annie says:

    It is heartening to hear that the ULCM is defending its status and that of its ministers. I know that here in Australia, our ordination is not recognised as legal for performing marriages or other functions of a minister.That doesn’t stop me form being glad that I was ordained in the UCLM but I do hope that one day the UCLM ordination is recognised everywhere as legal and legitimate.

    1. Rev Comrade Kershaw says:

      Yes you can and I know the process of how to get ULC ordinations legally registered in australia and I can send you a copy of the letter I got from the Attorney general’s department. The Attorney General will legally recognise us ULC ordained ministers in australia under the new category of “religious celebrants” since the passing of Australian marriage equality 9th December 2017 that I fought for for 13 years on the conditions we complete Australian standard ministry training requirements of a Bachelor of theology degree at an australian university, complete a Transforming pastoral practice certificate or clinical pastoral education certificate, complete a Certificate IV in celebrancy through any TAFE, have completed a church seminary course, get a working with children check clearance and a police check clearance, provide three letters of good standing, Be actively involved in a local not for profit community group to demonstrate to the Attorney general your connected with the local community, agree to carry out the religious rites of the universal life church without discrimination, comply with australian laws, sit the attorney general’s test and legally register with the Attorney generals department. Contact me. God bless and love in struggle Rev Comrade kershaw+ CLACCA Universal Life Church

      1. Dr.Rev. Annie says:

        At my age, by the time I did all that, I would be dead! LOL I know I can complete the TAFE course but it costs over $1200 to do and I don’t have that kind of money. I have higher degrees but not one of them in theology. I guess I will just give it a miss until and unless the government decides to recognise the ordination as legal, like any other church.The federal government puts out a list of recognised religions and ULC is not one of them.

        1. tom b says:

          Respectfully…a government should not have the right to define what is or is not a religion…Peace…Tom B

          1. Rev Comrade Kershaw says:

            Dear Annie I’m 40 & only only on a disability support pension & only live in affordable housing. The Australian government covers 75 % of the costs & the other 25% you can fund raise through bucket collecting & the Australian Government pays you money to do the training through centrelink benefits. HECS covers the cost of the theology degree which only takes 3 to four years does not cost any money for people on centrelink benefits & only takes three years to complete at Charles sturt university & the university theological library will lend you all the books you need if you can’t afford to buy the books. the certificate IV in celebrancy only costs $500 that only takes six months to complete, the transforming pastoral practice only takes six months to course costs $2500 & my local community donated the $2500 to cover the cost. To become a legally recognized church in Australia or just to even legally register your ordained ministry with the attorney general’s department in Canberra, requires it’s ordained ministers to complete Australian standard ministry training, pass police background checks, have a working with children check, to be theologically ethical in ministry practice & to understand the Australia laws around ordained ministry, births, deaths, marriages, church acts & have a good standing in the Australian community. I am one of the half a million Transgender asexual forgotten Australians who got abused and denied equality by the Australian churches & I am grateful to do the ministry training because they didn’t train those ministers who abused me & denied my equality which is why it is Australian law for ordained ministers from any church to complete Australian standard ministry training. Ministry training in Australia is not about religious indoctrination, it might be at other theological colleges but it is not at Charles sturt university school of theology. It’s about ensuring that you have theological ethical standards in ministry practice & are not stupid about the Australian laws or scripture or the different religions or the legalities around ordained ministry, marriage equality, births and funerals in Australia. The only cost you pay is $500 for Certificate IV in Celebrancy which only takes 6 months to do at the Gordon TAFE, $2500 for the six months course in clinical pastoral education or transforming pastoral practice that you can normally fundraiser through bucket collecting & you can get scholarships. Every other church by law in Australia requires it’s ordained ministers to do ministry training to meet the australia standards of ministry because just as you would never let a doctor operate on you who has not been to medical school or a lawyer who has never been to law school represent you in court, Australia does require it’s ordained ministers regardless of where you got ordained to be safe, to be trained, to not be ignorant. I want the Universal life church to be taken seriously in Australia & not dismissed as a joke to prove those bastards wrong & regardless of where you get ordained with the universal life church let’s do ordained ministry better than the australian churches, but lets do it together. God bless and love in struggle Rev Comrade Kershaw+

  2. Rev Comrade Kershaw says:

    Dr Rev Annie. Yes you can legally register ULC ordained ministries in Australia. I know the process of legal registration of ULC ordained ministry in Australia. contact me on 0457 771 520. God bless and love in struggle Rev Comrade Kershaw

    1. Dr.Rev. Annie says:

      Rev Comrade Kershaw- thank you for your offer of information.I have done some research for my state (VIC) and to officiate at a marriage, one must be a registered civil marriage celebrant or an authorised minister of religion. If you do have info on how to legally register as a ULC minister in VIC and become an authorised minister of religion, then I would appreciate an email at mshannahgrace@gmail.com. I appreciate your phone number but I don’t feel comfortable phoning a stranger from the Internet. Perhaps if we exchanged some email first and got to know each other, then I might feel better about revealing my own number (which happens automatically if I phone you since I don’t have a private number. I would be very interested in being able to perform marriage ceremonies here.

      Please don’t be offended by my hesitation to phone. I am just a cautious person with Internet connections.

  3. Rev. Tom Brown says:

    I stand with you. Check is in the mail

  4. Tom B says:

    Your lawsuit is necessary and proper…the actions against the ULC are discriminatory…it is a shame the lawsuit is necessary…Peace..Tom B

  5. Alex Jeremy Osonwa says:

    They should try to block online ordination,many Minister are doing God’s work, it’s not just for fun,we are winning souls for Jesus Christ,so hasten up to resolve this issue…… Alex Jeremy

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