ULC Case Law
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It is common for the average Universal Life Church minister to perform a wedding for friends, family members and, in some cases, strangers. ULC ministers are much different from those found in Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches in that they are far more open to performing “unconventional” wedding ceremonies. How many Lutheran preachers or Catholic priests do you know who have performed a wedding in a natural history museum, on the observation deck on the highest floor of a skyscraper, or on a mountain top? Therein lies the value of ULC wedding officiants.
The Universal Life Church also does not have restrictive policies that prohibit its ministers from solemnizing certain kinds of weddings. For example, most branches of the ULC will happily allow one of their ministers to perform a wedding for a gay couple; Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox wedding officiants generally cannot say the same.
So, if you want to perform a wedding ceremony that will be fun, highly personalized, and legally recognized by the government of your state, simply follow the steps listed below and the ULC will help you become a wedding officiant.
It is virtually impossible to officiate a wedding in America unless you are an ordained minister through a church; the few exceptions to this rule are ship captains and officers in the Salvation Army, and even these classes of wedding officiant are only recognized in a handful of states.
One of the major benefits provided by a Universal Life Church ordination is that it allows people to solemnize marriages. The ULC is a real church and thus its ministers are real ministers; this means that anyone from anywhere in the world can become a legally-recognized wedding officiant in most of America within the space of a couple of minutes if they get ordained through the ULC.
Why you should get ordained online: It’s…
Quick: the entire ordination process should take you less than five minutes.
Easy: you merely need to provide your full legal name, e-mail address and mailing address.
Permanent: the ULC ordination lasts a lifetime – it does not have an expiration date nor renewal fees (though your ordination can be revoked if you decide you do not want it).
Free: it costs a whopping zero dollars and zero cents to become an ordained minister with the ULC (though it must charge for ministerial documentation out of necessity).
To actually complete the ordination process, simply visit themonastery.org and click on the yellow “Become a Minister” button in the upper left hand corner of the main page. You will then be prompted to fill out a form with your personal information. After pressing the “Submit Ordination Request” button, a confirmation e-mail should appear in your e-mail account’s inbox within minutes; if one does not appear there, it is likely that you entered your e-mail address incorrectly.
Read the Get Ordained section of this site for more information about the process of online ordination.
Call the county clerk of the county where the marriage license is going to be filed for the couple who has asked you to perform their wedding in order to make sure that the county clerk’s office will accept the Universal Life Church’s ordination. Chances are very good that the clerk will accept the ULC’s ordination as most of the country does (see the State Marriage Law Summary section below for more information about the legality of the Universal Life Church’s ordination across the country).
Next, make sure you inquire about any supplementary requirements the clerk’s office may have for wedding officiants or the couple; some counties require blood work, filing fees, or have specific marriage license filing windows established (i.e. policies that require our ministers to file for the marriage license a week before or after the wedding ceremony occurs). Failure to meet these requirements could easily result in your attempt to file for a marriage license being unsuccessful.
Once you have confirmed that you are able to perform a wedding ceremony in the county in question, make sure to ask the county clerk about what forms of ministerial and government-issued documentation you will need to file for a marriage license with them. This stage is absolutely necessary; failure to present the right documentation could easily prevent you from filing for the marriage license.
Fortunately, many states do not require ULC ministers to present any forms of identification other than a drivers license or passport. Of the states that do want to see some form of minister license, most only need to see an ordination credential certificate or letter of good standing. On the other end of the scale, a handful of states and counties have very stringent documentation requirements that force Universal Life Church ministers to possess entire packets of paperwork.
Regardless of what the state or county in question requires of the ULC minister, you are sure to find what you need in the Ministry Products section of themonastery.org. Everything, from ordination credentials to affidavits of authority to letters of sponsorship can be found there. The ULC staff has even prepared packages for certain states and cities; Nevada, Wisconsin, and New York City all have their own region-specific materials.
The vast majority of states within the United States accept the Universal Life Church’s ordination. In fact, only two states generally do not accept the Universal Life Church ordination; Pennsylvania and Virginia. One county in each of these states does generally accept our ordination, fortunately; the clerks in Spotsylvania County, VA and Bucks County, PA rarely reject online ordinations. This means that ULC ministers are able to perform legally-recognized weddings in most of the country.
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