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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 remain 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 Wedding Officiants to register with a county court clerk only if they are performing marriage ceremonies within Oklahoma. North Carolina has no such requirement for either resident or non-resident Wedding Officiants.)

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subject to your church’s bylaws, and your church’s board would still have the power to have his ordination revoked or rescinded by simply notifying us.

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Feature photo by Joey Csunyo on Unsplash.com



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