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Category: Ordination Information (page 1 of 2)

Information on becoming ordained as a ceremonial minister. Licensed and ordained ministers are legally permitted to perform wedding ceremonies and solemnize marriage vow, and may also serve as an Officiant for baby blessings, welcoming ceremonies, engagements, graduations, vow renewals, commitment ceremonies, funerals and other life celebrations.

Can A Nun Become Ordained?

We are often asked: are Catholic nuns allowed to become ordained? Our answer is yes. And no.

Nuns Ordained As Priests Praying (Photo)

Nuns may be ordained to serve as wedding officiants, in accordance with state laws.

We’ll start with the “no.” Current canon law and the church’s catechism directs that “only a baptized man validly receives sacred ordination” to serve as a priest — and only male priests can lead a parish of Catholic Christians, celebrate Mass, and bring new members into the church through Baptism.

However, while they are not permitted to celebrate Mass, nuns may become ordained in compliance with state law, which does not restrict sisters from performing marriage ceremonies as an Officiant.

Ordination through Saint Valentine Ministry complies with all state laws, and is respectful of church law as well. Your title when ordained is “Officiant,” so you are not treading in territory reserved solely for priests within the Catholic church.

…Assuming that there are no obvious impediments to marriage, a lay Catholic who is qualified by the state to preside at civil marriages may do so for non-Catholics who are not bound by Catholic marital law.

— Catholic Answers

In nearly all cases, nuns ordained as Marriage Officiants are not permitted by the Catholic church to perform wedding ceremonies within a parish-owned church building, but they can perform marriages in other facilities, such as public halls, parks, restaurants or private homes.

(Most convents do not permit marriage ceremonies to be performed on site under any circumstances.)

While it is still not common for nuns and sisters to serve as ordained Wedding Officiants — we know of only a dozen or so currently in the United States — there are no legal impediments to serving, although you should discuss the situation with your convent’s superior prior to seeking ordination.

Are you ready to become ordained as a Wedding Officiant?

Please click here to begin the ordination process.

 

Minister Ordination Across State Lines

C., who serves as an executive assistant for a thriving Christian church in North Carolina, recently wrote us with the following inquiry:

We are hiring a pastor from Oklahoma who is a licensed minister by the church he is leaving. We have ordained pastors in our church. In North Carolina, does he have to be ordained or would his Oklahoma license be legal in this state?

If your incoming pastor was ordained through his church in Oklahoma and that church is not affiliated with your church, then his ordination and license will probably be terminated by that church upon his departure.

In many (but not all) cases, a church that has set up its own ordination program does so based on legal language written into its bylaws. In many of those same cases, the ordination is contingent upon that person remaining in service to that church.

However, if his ordination and license remains valid with his church, then it is valid everywhere; there are no territorial limits on ordination in general, so his Oklahoma license would also be valid and accepted in North Carolina.

(Oklahoma requires ministers to register with a county court clerk only if they are performing marriage ceremonies within the state. North Carolina has no such requirement.)

You have a few options available to you in this case: does your church ordain its clergy? It’s perfectly legal in North Carolina — if you follow certain specific rules and write the legal language into your bylaws. (If you’re already doing this, excellent! If not, and if you can use some guidance on the subject, please contact us.)

Your other option is to have your incoming pastor receive his ordination through an ordaining organization … such as ours. We comply with all Federal and North Carolina laws, and a significant number of professional ministers serving churches such as yours were ordained, certified and licensed through First Nation.

He would still be subject to your church’s bylaws, and your church’s board would still have the power to have his ordination revoked or rescinded by simply notifying us.

Ready to become ordained?

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.

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

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

Why Do Ordination Terms Expire?

We recently received an inquiry asking why ordination terms expire:

My understanding is that Ordination does not expire. Can you explain about the 2 year, 5 year and 10 year materials? What happens at the end of the time period?

We responded, but the person’s email address was apparently incorrect and our message bounced back to us, so we’re printing our reply here:

To be fully compliant with general legal standards, ordination cannot be granted “for life.” Most ordaining bodies —  churches and religious organizations — conform with a standard that limits the ordination term to a specific period.

This gives both parties the option to continue the relationship, or to terminate it. In essence, what happens if ten, or twenty or even thirty years from now, you decide that you don’t want to be ordained by the church any longer, but the church still has you on record as being ordained?

The truth of the matter is that ordination is one of the most misunderstood subjects for both pastors and churches. And unfortunately, ministers have bought into some “myths” concerning ordination.

— Raul Rivera*

At the end of your ordination term, it is your option to either renew extend your ordination, or allow it to lapse. If you have remained in good standing, it is usually a quick and simple process. And if your ordination term has recently lapsed, we generally grant you an extended grace period so that you can renew without losing your standing as a ceremonial minister.

Is it time to renew your ordination term? Please click here to begin the renewal process now.

Ready to be ordained? We’re ready to help! Click here to request ordination now.

* — Looking for more information about the legal implications of ordination and license renewal? Read Raul Rivera’s article at StartChurch.com.

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