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Author: WedMinTeam (page 1 of 3)

Is A Religious Degree Also Considered “Ordination”?

Recently, D. asked us:

I have finished all but two classes in my ordination tract because of needing to perform ceremonies. My degree is my license, right?

Keep in mind that, unless it is specifically designated as such, a degree does not generally convey ordination on the degree holder.

Ordination, per se, is an action taken by a church board to designate certain persons as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. (A person’s license as a minister is also generally granted as part of the ordination process, not as part of the educational or training path.)

The degree recognizes that you’ve attained a certain specific level of training and education, but does not necessarily mean that you are ordained as clergy.

How To Become A Wedding Officiant

Let’s say that you’ve been asked to perform the marriage ceremony for your best friend or, perhaps, your favorite cousin. What’s the process you must go through to become a wedding officiant?

Basically, the person performing a marriage ceremony must be legally ordained by a church or religious organization. Becoming ordained means that you are licensed to serve as an officiant (or celebrant, or ceremonial minister) and may perform weddings and other rites, such as funerals, baby blessings, and vow renewals.

Photo of a wedding officiant performing a ceremony

You don’t have to be a priest or minister to become a wedding officiant!

You’re probably wondering how complicated the ordination process is, and how many years of education and on-the-job training you’ll have to undergo.

We’ll get those two questions out of the way immediately: the ordination process is actually quite simple, and there is no educational or training requirement — except one, which we’ll get to shortly.

Ordination simply means that we have confirmed who you are, made sure that you are of legal age to perform a marriage ceremony (in most states, it’s either 16 or 18 years old) and that you are capable of witnessing the bridal couple’s signatures on their marriage license, which you are generally required to return to the issuing agency (usually the County Clerk’s office) following the ceremony.

Through First Nation, the ordination process typically takes only a few business days. Depending upon which state the ceremony is taking place in, you can often request what is known as Basic Ordination, which allows you to perform a single marriage ceremony.

Keep in mind that your ordination level must comply with the laws of the state that the ceremony is taking place in, regardless of where you live. For example, if you live in Ohio, but the ceremony is taking place in Kentucky, your ordination must comply with Kentucky’s laws. If, however, you live in Ohio and the ceremony is taking place in Ohio, your ordination must comply with Ohio’s laws.

Do you know which state the marriage ceremony will take place in? Click here to begin the ordination process.

Here are a couple of fast facts to remember:

  1. Every state has a law that requires wedding officiants to be legally ordained prior to performing a marriage ceremony in their state. You cannot simply proclaim yourself to be “ordained” — it must be done legally through a church or religious organization.
  2. Most (but not all) states, including California and Texas, recognize and accept basic-level ordination, which is valid for performing a single ceremony only.
  3. Most (but not all) states do not have a local registration requirement. What this means is that if your ordination status is active and verifiable, then you do not have to register with any government agency in the state, although you must submit a copy of your credentials to any legal authority upon their request.
  4. Not a resident of the state where the ceremony is taking place? No problem! As long as you are legally ordained, non-resident marriage officiants are permitted to serve in any state, although a few states will require you to submit your credentials to them before performing the ceremony.

Again, most states accept Basic Ordination. Several states and local jurisdictions, however, do require you to register with them after being ordained but before performing a ceremony. Those locations include:

Note that we listed New York City above, but not New York State — that’s because if the ceremony is taking place in one of the five boroughs of New York City (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island and The Bronx) then you must register with the city’s Marriage Bureau before the wedding takes place. (Click here to read more about the process in New York.)

If all this becoming ordained and licensed and registering is starting to sound like more of a hassle than it’s worth, please don’t worry! We do everything we can to make ordination simple and stress-free, and registration with your state or county is actually pretty easy — if you follow the instructions properly and submit your forms and documents to them in a timely manner. (And yes, we include all the forms and documents you’ll need as part of your ordination packet.)

Earlier, we mentioned that there’s one educational element that’s required, and it’s very important: you must rehearse the ceremony, and then rehearse it again and again, and again. If you’ve never performed a ceremony before, being prepared and paying attention to the details is more important than anything else — our article on this subject will help guide you through the process.

That’s it! You can begin the process of becoming ordained by clicking here, and if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to review the requirements for your state, or contact us directly for information about your specific situation by using the form below:

 

Ready to become a wedding officiant? Please click here now!

 

Feature photo by Christina Shin via Flickr Creative Commons.

First Nation Minister Performs Taylor-Smith Nuptials

District of Columbia-based First Nation minister Young Lee performed the marriage ceremony uniting actor-singer Billy Clark Taylor and attorney Jeremy Benton Smith on October 16 at the 3 West Club in Manhattan.

Mr. Lee obtained his ordination through First Nation, with the New York City endorsement, in order to perform the ceremony.

Read the complete article on the New York Times website.

Advanced Training As A Celebrant For All Of Life’s Events

While most states have little or no educational or training requirements for those performing ceremonies, First Nation strongly encourages its clergy members seeking either basic or advanced training to consider the programs offered by the Celebrant Foundation and Institute.

Norman Rockwell "Marriage License" (1955)If you are pursuing a career as a Celebrant, or if you are considering a career as a ceremonial minister, the courses offered by CF&I provide the perfect fundamental education in all aspects of this vital work. Course training covers a wide spectrum of ceremonial duties, including weddings, funerals, vow renewal, baby welcoming, and coming-of-age celebrations, among others, toward certification as a Life-Cycle Celebrant™.

The Celebrant Institute’s faculty is highly regarded, with extensive real-world experience. (Several faculty members are notable First Nation ceremonial ministers.) Courses are held throughout the year.

To find out more about the Celebrant Institute’s training and certification courses, please click here.

In addition, First Nation extends a 20% discount on complete ordination and other services to Celebrant Institute alumni and students. Please enter CFI20 in the “Discount” field when completing your order at FirstNationMinistry.com.

Our inset image is Norman Rockwell’s “The Marriage License” (1954), which appeared on the cover of the The Saturday Evening Post’s June 11, 1955, edition. Did you know you can get married at a replica of this scene at the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts? You can!

Life-Cycle Celebrant™ is a trademark of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute. First Nation is not otherwise affiliated with the Celebrant Institute, but we certainly love and appreciate the work they do!

Are You Qualified To Perform Premarital Counseling In Tennessee?

A First Nation clergy member recently asked if being ordained as a ceremonial minister qualified him to provide premarital counseling in Tennessee, which entitles the bridal couple to a discount off of the regular $100 marriage license fee:

Tennessee Code Annotated §36-6-413(b)(5) provides that couples who complete premarital preparation courses shall be exempt from the $60 fee otherwise imposed by that code section. The course must not be less than four (4) hours and completed no more than one year prior to the date of application for the license. Parties may attend separate classes. If they do, separate certificates must be filed.

Our reply:

Simply being ordained does not qualify a ceremonial minister to provide counseling, but Tennessee law does not restrict legally ordained ministers from doing so.

Tennessee Code Chapter 63-22-204 (a) states:

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as limiting the ministry, activities, or services of a rabbi, priest, minister of the gospel or others authorized by a regularly organized and functioning religious body in performing the ordinary duties or functions of the clergy; nor shall anything in this chapter apply to or be construed as limiting the activities or services of Christian Science practitioners. Nor shall any rabbi, priest, or minister who offers counseling services, even if fees are charged, be subject to the limitations of this chapter, as long as they do not hold themselves out as licensed pastoral therapists or licensed pastoral counselors and as long as they do not purport to provide the integration and professional application of resources and techniques from the religious community’s traditions of pastoral care and counsel along with recognized principles, methods and procedures of clinical psychotherapy.

We highly recommend that anyone planning to provide such counseling should undertake training specific to performing this role.

You may request Tennessee-based ordination at FirstNationMinistry.org/us/tennessee.

Have any questions regarding this subject? Please let us know!

State Of The Union: Performing Marriage Ceremonies In Tennessee

Tennessee Marriage Law For Ministers

We recently received an inquiry from an out-of-state (non-resident) minister who was concerned about performing a marriage ceremony in Tennessee.

His concern was not only about not being a resident of the state, but whether the local court clerk — who would be issuing the marriage license to the bridal couple — would accept and recognize the validity of his ministerial credential.

The Tennessee attorney general has issued several opinions in the past about whether ministers or spiritual leaders of various religions (including imams, rabbis and other clerics and teachers) were authorized to perform marriage ceremonies in the state. Also addressed by the attorney general was his opinion regarding whether or not instant online ordination through the Universal Life Church or other religious organizations met the state’s standard for being performed as “a considered, deliberate, and responsible act.”

(Note that the attorney general issued opinions on the state’s law — these are his interpretations only and have no legal effect, although they are carefully and thoughtfully written, and are excellent guides for all concerned.)

Our correspondent received this reply from the Deputy Clerk of the Sumner County Clerk’s Office in Gallatin, which gets straight to the bottom line:

Pursuant to the Tennessee Attorney General, the County Clerk does not have the authority to examine the qualifications of persons who perform marriage ceremonies.

The first thing we will point out is that we do not provide instant online ordination as others do.

We meet and exceed all of Tennessee’s statutes and legal requirements — each ordination request is reviewed and vetted by our staff, and must be approved by a member of our board in compliance with Tennessee’s directive for the process to be “a considered, deliberate, and responsible act.” We have been legally and lawfully ordaining ceremonial ministers in Tennessee for decades, without a single challenge to our authority to do so, or to the authority of those in our service.

In addition, as noted by the Sumner County Clerk’s Office, no County Clerk or other official anywhere in Tennessee has the authority to examine or rule on the qualifications of persons who perform marriage ceremonies; however, any legal authority (including judges, district attorneys and certain state-appointed officials) can request you to present your active credentials, as can the bridal couple and their legal representatives.

Keep in mind that most of the challenges to the legal authority of a marriage officiant from any church or religious organization is not because of the officiant’s legal status — it’s generally because one or both of the parties to the marriage are looking for a way to annul their union. In a divorce, one party may be looking for an advantage (financially or otherwise) over the other. If the other can get the marriage annulled because of a technicality, such as the legal status of the officiant, or perhaps because a certain box wasn’t checked off on the marriage license application, then the financial or custodial advantage can be wiped out as well.

The bottom line is that if the couple is looking to dissolve their marriage, then they’ll use any method at their disposal. If they are happily married, then no legal challenge will be made to their union — the state isn’t going to come along and say that Bob Smith wasn’t legally ordained, so the marriage is null and void.

Keep in mind also that Title 36 of the Tennessee Code includes several statutes that state, in essence, that if the parties to the marriage believe that they are legally married, then such marriage is valid and is declared to be in full compliance with the laws of Tennessee.

Ready to become ordained to perform ceremonies in Tennessee? Please click here.

On a related subject, we discuss whether or not ordained ministers are permitted to perform premarital counseling in Tennessee. Why is this subject important? Read more…

First Nation Minister Kim Kirkley Celebrates Salik-Riffat Nuptials

Salik-Riffat Wedding

The entire First Nation family extends its congratulations and warmest wishes for a lifetime of joy and love to Dr. Irim Salik and Mahmud Riffat, who were married last weekend at Park Savoy Estate, with Kim Kirkley serving as their Celebrant.

Kim Kirkley, an ordained and licensed First Nation ceremonial minister, is one of the leading life-cycle Celebrants in the New York and New Jersey area. In addition to her service as a Celebrant, she serves on the faculty of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, focusing on Fundamentals of Celebrancy, Weddings, Ceremony Across the Life Cycle Certifications, and Advanced Marketing Courses. She is the author of several books, including “Love Stories: A Celebrant’s Work,” which is considered essential reading for anyone aspiring to serve as a life-cycle celebrant.

Read the full story of Dr. Salik and Mr. Riffat’s wedding in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times.

Have you performed a ceremony recently? If so, please send us the details and a photograph (or two!) so that we may feature it here.

Thinking about becoming a Life Celebrant and ordained ceremonial minister? Stop thinking and start doing! Click here to begin the quick, simple process.

State of the Union: Serving As A Wedding Officiant In Virginia

PLEASE NOTE: As a result of the continued actions of Virginia circuit courts to obstruct legally-ordained ministers from performing their constitutionally-authorized duties in the Commonwealth, the church has temporarily discontinued granting new ordinations with the Virginia endorsement, effective 10 October 2016 and continuing until the situation is resolved. All currently-ordained ministers may continue to serve in Virginia without restriction.

Perhaps the most common question we get from our ministers regards the brick wall that is put up to block them from serving in some cities and counties in Virginia — but, frustratingly, not by all of them.

Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia - Marriage OfficiantOver the years, it has been very much hit-or-miss for ceremonial ministers serving in Virginia — not just for our church, but for many others as well.

Some states require ministers to register prior to performing a ceremony there, but it’s usually a simple, hassle-free procedure and, usually, the registering authority works with you to expedite the process.

And then there is the magnificent and sovereign Commonwealth of Virginia.

Continue reading

What To Wear: Proper Attire For Officiants

We recently received an inquiry from Robert Marsh, a First Nation ceremonial minister in Texas, who asked:

What type of clerical garments are we able to use?

This is a great question, and a great subject for us to discuss in detail.

For most ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, Officiants will generally wear what is commonly regarded as “business attire,” such as a standard suit and tie for men, or a dress or pants outfit for women. Black or dark blue is recommended, with a white shirt or blouse, although a tasteful blue shirt or blouse is also acceptable.

Women's Long Sleeve Tab Collar Clergy Shirt by Murphy Robes

Women’s Long Sleeve Tab Collar Clergy Shirt by Murphy Robes

In such situations, the attire should not be too bright or flashy — especially at weddings, you do not want to attract attention away from the bridal couple. I wouldn’t want to be the Officiant who is pulling focus away from a bride in her beautiful gown on her special day!

As far as clerical garments go, you may wear “the collar” — the basic, standard clergy shirt. Over the years, we have always recommended Artneedle’s shirts, which can be worn with or without a coat.

Mercy Robes also offers very nice clergy shirts. Basic black is nice, but many of our Officiants prefer the burgundy, which nearly matches the Knights of St. Valentine crest color.

Of course, you should discuss your attire in advance with the bridal couple. Usually, the wedding will be fairly formal, but we’ve seen Hawaiian shirts, Disney character costumes and even football jerseys worn at ceremonies — it’s all up to the couple, and how they’ve planned the event.

Get Free Online Ordination!

Examining the fallacy that free, instant online ordination is valid and accepted universally without question. (A quick clue: it isn’t, and it can get you and the bridal couple into an embarrassing situation.)

You probably just arrived here from the search engine of your choice. You’re undoubtedly looking for free online ordination — because that’s what our headline is screaming.

A friend or a family member has probably asked you to serve as the minister for their wedding, and you’ve gone out on the Internet to find the fastest, cheapest, easiest way to become ordained so you can perform the marriage ceremony.

Continue reading

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