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What is ordination and what benefits does it offer? On this page we’ll answer those questions, explaining how ordination works, why people choose to become ordained, and what doors it can open.

When discussing ordination, there are three key aspects to consider. First is the history of ordination as a spiritual practice, which goes back many centuries and differs from one belief system to another. Second is the meaning of ordination – what is the definition of ordination and what responsibilities are associated with it?

Finally, the topic we will cover in this guide: what are the legal benefits and privileges enjoyed by those who become ordained?

What Is the Purpose of Ordination?

From a legal standpoint, ordination is an important title because it grants an individual the authority to preside over legal ceremonies, such as performing legal weddings.

By becoming ordained, ministers are empowered to join couples in holy matrimony. Most states have broad rules which allow anyone from any established church, denomination, society or religious organization to officiate marriages, including the Universal Life Church (ULC).

However, it’s key to remember that each state has its own rules governing how legal marriages need to be performed. For example, many states will require ministers to show proof of their ordination before officiating a ceremony. For that reason, ULC ministers are always encouraged to read up on the wedding laws in their state in advance of any marriage ceremony they are planning to preside over.

What Is a Certificate of Ordination?

A certificate of ordination is an official document that confirms an individual’s status as an ordained member of a religious organization. This is the most common type of document that a county clerk (or an equivalent marriage official) might request as proof of one’s ordination.

ULC ordination certificates feature a raised seal and the signature of the presiding chaplain of the church.

What is the Process of Ordination?

The process of ordination varies greatly depending on the religion and denomination in question, but it usually involves some period of study followed by a sworn ceremony. Many Christian organizations, for example, require a public affirmation of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as part of ordination.

Other denominations require a signed statement of loyalty to the church and its doctrine.

Some even require that their ordained ministers throw themselves down before the pulpit, kiss a ring, wear certain clothing, take an oath, or other such religious actions.

In certain cases, ministers are required to pay a certain amount of money each year for the continued approval of the right to call themselves ordained ministers of that denomination or belief system. This is usually reserved for denominations which "license" their ministers for certain periods of time.

How ULC Ordination Is Different

Couple Kissing at Wedding Ceremony

The ULC ordains its ministers for life, and does so for free. The Universal Life Church Ministries is the largest non-denominational online church in the world, opening its doors to all, and welcoming people regardless of their specific identity or denominational beliefs.

We don’t put up religious hurdles, nor do we ask that any hoops are jumped through, require that one passes any tests of loyalty, or demand you kiss any rings. Neither do we require anyone interested in becoming a minister to pay any fees. Why? Because the Universal Life Church prioritizes freedom – freedom of religion, freedom of choice, freedom of identity, and freedom from control.

Our guiding belief is simple: that we are all children of the same universe, deserving of equal respect and equal rights. From that belief arose our ordination process, which is made to be as accessible as possible – empowering people to enjoy all the rights and privileges that come with ordination without any of the prohibitive barriers that have wrongly gate-kept this role from the majority of humanity for thousands of years.