Are ULC Ministers Eligible for Ministerial Discounts?
The Universal Life Church (ULC) offers ordination to anyone interested in becoming a minister. The ordination application is free, and there are no age, educational, race or gender requirements to become a ULC ordained minister. However, in most states there are legal requirements regarding the age a minister must be to officiate at a wedding.
While a ULC minister doesn't have to give up his or her full-time job, or take a vow of poverty to be ordained, he or she can receive Ministerial Discounts on goods and services when they're offered. Many of these discounts are similar to those ministers of other denominations have received in the past, and still receive in some areas of the country. For example, an ordained ULC minister in San Francisco can ride the cable cars at no cost because of the work done by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity after the 1906 earthquake. Discounted train fares are often available to ministers. Although the era of discounted gas prices has ended for ministers, they can find savings on airfare and bus travel, both local and cross-country. Ministerial Discounts also may be available at department stores, restaurants or grocery stores, amusement parks, and many other businesses. A ULC minister is free to check in his or her own community to determine if there are other possible Ministerial Discounts.
A ULC minister is eligible for financial help from his or her congregation, if he has one, just as ministers of other denominations are. The congregation can provide for the ULC minister's clerical garb, needed to perform his duties of Baptism, Marriage, Burial, and conducting meetings to satisfy the needs of the congregation, if necessary. While official garb can be worn if the minister and the congregation desire it, a minister may also perform these duties in street clothes. If the street clothes are used specifically for the ministerial duties, then the congregation can provide them to the minister.
A ULC congregation can pay the utilities on a home used as the headquarters of the congregation, either the minister's home or someone else's. A minister may have his health insurance and dental insurance covered by the congregation if he or she is a member of the Board of the Directors, and the same offer is made to the other members of the board. If the minister wishes, the congregation can provide a car, as long as it's used for church business. The Board of Directors can vote to lease a car, even the car the minister currently owns, and provide the gas and maintenance fees. Alternately, the board may vote to buy and maintain a car for the minister. The board also has the option of providing similar financial help with the minister's housing. A minister may even take a loan from the congregation for any amount and any length of time, as long as it is paid back with reasonable interest.
A ULC minister is a private citizen in the eyes of the federal government, so he or she isn't exempt from paying taxes on all earnings. The only exception is if the minister has taken a vow of poverty, which requires that all personal property be turned over to the church, including the clothes on his or her back. In that case, any income he or she earns that is directly related to the performance of ministerial duties may be exempt from taxes.