Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Universal Life Church's Commitment to Ministerial Support

The Universal Life Church (ULC) offers a straightforward and accessible process for individuals to become ordained ministers. To begin the ordination process, aspiring ministers can submit a written request to the ULC headquarters, either through mail (Universal Life Church, Headquarters 601 Third St. Modesto, CA 95351), email (, or online. The request should include the individual's full legal name, current mailing address, and a note expressing their desire to become an ordained minister. Unlike some organizations that charge fees for ordination, the ULC does not require payment for this service, although they do accept donations. It's important to note that the ULC based in Modesto, California is the original Universal Life Church and the only one authorized to endorse chaplains for BCCI certification.

Once ordained, the ULC provides ministers with an explanatory pamphlet and a certificate bearing their name and the date of their ordainment. These documents serve as tangible proof of their status as ordained ministers and enable them to perform various duties and ceremonies.

The ULC recognizes the importance of proper documentation when officiating weddings. While many jurisdictions have straightforward requirements, some locations have specific regulations that must be followed to ensure the legality and validity of the marriage. The ULC headquarters supports its ministers by providing the necessary documents for various jurisdictions, often at little or no cost.

For example, in New York City, an officiant must register with the City Clerk's office to perform weddings in any of the five boroughs. The ULC can assist by providing the required paperwork. By contacting the ULC two or three weeks before the wedding, the necessary documents will be promptly mailed, ensuring a smooth registration process.

In Nevada and Virginia, additional steps are involved in the officiation process. These states require notarization of ULC documents to add an extra layer of verification and authenticity. While notarization may incur a cost, the ULC headquarters can guide ministers through the process and provide the necessary paperwork for a small donation. This way, ministers can obtain the required notarized documents without paying exorbitant fees that other sources may charge.

It's crucial to understand that the Universal Life Church based in Modesto, California is the original ULC and the only one authorized to endorse chaplains for certification by the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc. (BCCI). Other denominations using the Universal Life Church name do not have this recognition from BCCI. If ULC ministers aspire to become board certified chaplains, they must ensure their ordination is through the Modesto ULC and seek endorsement from Rev. Andre Hensley at the ULC headquarters. This endorsement is necessary for the BCCI certification process.

In conclusion, the Universal Life Church is committed to ordaining ministers and providing them with the necessary documents to perform their duties, including officiating weddings. The ULC headquarters in Modesto, California is the original ULC and the only one authorized to endorse chaplains for BCCI certification. By following the ordination process and obtaining the proper documents, individuals can become ordained ministers through the ULC and officiate weddings with confidence and legality. Additionally, ULC ministers can pursue board certification as chaplains by fulfilling the educational and clinical requirements set by certifying bodies like the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) and obtaining the necessary endorsement from the ULC headquarters.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Exploring Ministry Preparation Options for Universal Life Church Clergy


The Universal Life Church (ULC) has long offered a range of courses, providing individuals with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of various aspects of religion and spirituality. While these courses are not accredited by traditional institutions, they serve a valuable purpose within the ULC community. Additionally, there are other unaccredited seminary options available for those interested in pursuing ministry roles, as well as accredited seminaries for individuals seeking recognized theological education. In this blog post, we will explore the courses offered by the ULC, highlight some unaccredited seminary options, and discuss a couple of accredited seminaries.

Courses Offered by the Universal Life Church: 

The ULC offers courses such as "Doctor of Biblical Studies" and "Science of Understanding Life." These courses have been available since the early days of the ULC and were designed by Rev. Kirby J. Hensley, the founder of the ULC, who sought to challenge established norms and offer unique educational opportunities. While these courses are not accredited by external bodies, they hold value within the ULC community, promoting individual thinking and personal growth. The ULC headquarters in Modesto offers these courses, allowing individuals to enroll, complete the coursework, and obtain a diploma.

Unaccredited Seminary Options for ULC Ministers: 

If you are considering a career in church ministry, parachurch work, nonprofit organizations, or teaching in non-academic settings, unaccredited seminaries can provide relevant education at a lower cost. Two unaccredited seminaries worth considering are Rockbridge Seminary and Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary.

Rockbridge Seminary, located in Springfield, Missouri, offers a distance learning program. While it claims accreditation through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), this accreditation might not be recognized by most employers. Rockbridge Seminary follows an evangelical approach and requires applicants to be followers of Jesus Christ actively serving in ministry roles.

Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary, based in Evansville, Indiana, has been operating since 1969 and offers courses focused on Christianity. Despite failing to achieve accreditation due to financial and organizational reasons, Trinity College provides degree programs and requires applicants to submit their religious background and references.

Accredited Seminary Options: 

For individuals seeking recognized theological education, accredited seminaries are recommended. One such option is United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (UTSTC) in Minnesota. UTSTC is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and offers a wide range of programs and concentrations. They provide online and in-person learning opportunities, catering to different needs and schedules. UTSTC embraces a progressive and interfaith approach, allowing individuals from diverse backgrounds to pursue theological education.

Another accredited seminary worth considering is Community of Christ Seminary, part of Graceland University. Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offers a Master of Arts in Religion program focused on preparing spiritual leaders. Their progressive stance and emphasis on scripture make it an appealing choice for individuals seeking theological education.


The Universal Life Church provides courses that, while not accredited, offer valuable insights and personal growth opportunities within its community. Unaccredited seminaries like Rockbridge Seminary and Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary offer alternative options for individuals interested in pursuing ministry roles at a lower cost. However, if you require accredited theological education, options like United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and Community of Christ Seminary provide recognized programs to meet your needs. It's essential to consider your goals and requirements when choosing the right educational path for your spiritual and professional journey.

Monday, May 29, 2023

How to Officiate a Funeral Service

The first funeral I ever spoke at was that of my father. Although a deacon from my mother's Roman Catholic Church had been invited to officiate, as someone who was then in congregational ministry I was also asked to give a eulogy. It was a painful, challenging experience, and one that sort of broke me in (and nearly broke me) on leading funeral services. If you have been asked to officiate a funeral service, you may be feeling overwhelmed. There is a lot to think about, from planning the service to delivering the eulogy. 

In this blog post, I will provide you with some tips on how to officiate a funeral service. We will cover everything from finding out what the family wants to include in the service to delivering a meaningful eulogy.

Talk to the family

The first thing you need to do is talk to the family of the deceased. Find out what their wishes are for the funeral service. Do they want a religious service or a non-religious service? Do they want specific readings or music? Once you know what the family wants, you can start planning the service. Such discussions will also be vital when it comes to writing the eulogy (see below) if you were not personally familiar with the deceased.

Create a schedule

Once you know what the family wants, you can start creating a schedule for the service. This will include things like the opening prayer, the eulogy, the closing prayer, and any other readings or music. Be sure to give yourself enough time to practice the service so that you can deliver it smoothly on the day of the funeral.

Write a eulogy

The eulogy is a speech that you will give about the deceased. It is a time to share your memories of the person and to celebrate their life. When writing the eulogy, be sure to focus on the person's positive qualities and their contributions to the world. You can also share stories about your time with the person. 

This will be challenging if you did not actually know the person who has passed. You should never act as though you did know them, if such was not the case. However, in your discussions with loved ones of the deceased you can probe for key information about the person's life and the impact they made. 

When my paternal grandmother passed away many years ago, her minister had to be out of town when the funeral was set to take place. So, instead, another minister was invited to officiate. in just an hour of talking with the family he had enough information to give an excellent eulogy. He spoke of her early life, being a teacher in a one-room school, and raising a family on the farm. He weaved her faith and character into his talk so gracefully that it felt as though he knew her, and everyone present recognized her in what he said. 

That minister had years of experience, so we can't all expect to do as well as him right from the start. Still, we can give our best for the family and friends of the loved one who has passed, and honor their memory.

Deliver the service

On the day of the funeral, be sure to arrive early so that you can set up and prepare. When it is time to deliver the service, be sure to speak clearly and slowly so that everyone can hear you. Be respectful of the family's grief and avoid making any jokes or comments that could be seen as insensitive.

Offer support

After the service, be sure to offer your support to the family. This may include talking to them about their grief, offering to help with funeral arrangements, or simply being there for them.

Officiating a funeral service can be a daunting task, but it is also an important one. By following these tips, you can help the family of the deceased to honor the life of their loved one.

Here are some additional tips for officiating a funeral service:
  • Dress appropriately. This means wearing something that is respectful and somber.
  • Be prepared. This means knowing the order of service, having a copy of the eulogy in front of you, and being familiar with the family's wishes.
  • Be respectful. This means speaking softly, avoiding jokes or humor, and being mindful of the family's grief.
  • Be compassionate. This means listening to the family's needs and offering your support.
By following these tips, you can help to create a meaningful and respectful funeral service that will honor the life of the deceased.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

"Foundations of Pentecostal Theology" Offers Comprehensive Coverage of Pentecostal Theology

Universal Life Church (ULC) ministers come from a wide array of perspectives, as diverse as the human population itself. For those with a Pentecostal background (or an interest in Pentecostal theology), it's important to stay informed and grounded in the doctrines that shape your faith. The Foursquare Church has recently released an extensively revised and updated edition of its esteemed textbook, "Foundations of Pentecostal Theology." This influential book, first published in 1983, has undergone significant revisions to address the evolving needs and challenges faced by Pentecostal leaders and students. In this blog post, we'll explore the importance of this book, its new features, and how you can obtain your copy.

Unifying Pentecostal Theology

The updated edition of "Foundations of Pentecostal Theology" serves as a unifying force for Foursquare leaders in the U.S. and beyond. Ted Vail, Foursquare's vice president of global operations, emphasizes the book's importance in documenting the global theology of the Pentecostal movement. In an era where various doctrines and teachings vie for attention, having a reliable and comprehensive resource becomes crucial. Vail affirms that the revised edition clarifies significant points of doctrine and provides a baseline theology for Foursquare ministers. By ensuring that this text reaches the shelves of pastors and missionaries worldwide, Foursquare aims to counteract the influence of misleading doctrines and provide a solid foundation for believers.

Key Updates and Enhancements

The new edition of "Foundations of Pentecostal Theology" boasts several updates and enhancements that make it an invaluable resource for ULC ministers. One notable change is the shift from the King James Version to the New King James Version as the lead translation, ensuring a contemporary and accessible language for readers. Moreover, the doctrine committee, led by Steve Schell, D.Min., has revised and expanded topics such as healing and baptism with the Holy Spirit. The committee's intention was to imbue the book with a pastoral tone, acknowledging that people's experiences of healing and faith can vary. These revisions aim to offer a balanced perspective while providing guidance and encouragement to believers.

Availability and Distribution

Foursquare is committed to making "Foundations of Pentecostal Theology" readily available to ministers and students alike. The book is available for purchase on starting May 29, 2023. Additionally, an e-book version is already available for free download at

The Significance of Good Theology

The availability of "Foundations of Pentecostal Theology" to a global audience holds significant importance. Foursquare recognizes the necessity of providing sound theological resources to growing movements, offering a strong foundation for believers worldwide. Ted Vail emphasizes how good theology helps new believers avoid doctrinal errors and ensures a healthier spiritual journey. By sharing this valuable resource, Foursquare hopes to alleviate the heartaches caused by misinformation and poor doctrine.


As a ULC minister with a Pentecostal background or an interest in Pentecostal theology, the revised and updated edition of "Foundations of Pentecostal Theology" is a must-have resource for your library. Its comprehensive coverage, theological insights, and recent revisions make it an invaluable tool for your ministry and personal growth. I encourage you to order your copy today!

Friday, May 26, 2023

Perform a Wedding Ceremony | A Three-Step Guide

If you've ever been asked to perform a wedding ceremony, you may have wondered about the process and legal requirements. The Universal Life Church (ULC) Headquarters in Modesto, California, provides a simple and accessible solution for anyone interested in becoming ordained and officiating weddings. In this three-step guide, we'll explain how to get ordained and the necessary steps to officiate a wedding.

Step 1: Get Ordained 
Becoming a wedding officiant through the Universal Life Church is a straightforward process that takes just a few minutes. Visit the church website to get started, and fill out the form on the ordination page. Fill out the form with the required information and submit it. Your ordination will be processed as of the date you submitted your request, and within a couple of weeks you will receive your ordination credential in the mail for free.

One of the best aspects of the ULC is that anyone can become ordained to perform a wedding. There are no restrictions on the ULC's ordinations, although it's important to note that most states require marriage officiants to be 18 years of age or older. With the ULC, you can become a wedding officiant regardless of your background or religious beliefs.

Step 2: Contact the Authority that Issues Marriage Licenses in your Area 
Before you can officiate a wedding, it's important to check the specific requirements of the jurisdiction where the marriage will take place. The policies regarding documentation for ministers vary from state to state and even from county to county. To ensure that you have the necessary documents, reach out to the office that issues marriage licenses in the county where the wedding will occur. Typically, this office is the county clerk.

When contacting the office, let them know that you are an ordained minister planning to perform a wedding in their county. They will inform you of the specific documents they require, which may include an ordination credential, a letter of good standing, or signed statements of ministry. You can find these items and more in the ULC's online catalog.

It's important to note that some counties may not require any additional documentation beyond your ordination. However, to avoid any complications, it's always advisable to verify the requirements with the issuing authority.

Step 3: Perform the Wedding Ceremony 
As an ordained minister, you have the flexibility to perform a wide variety of wedding ceremonies. From formal and traditional to unique and personalized, the ULC encourages creativity and supports your vision for the ceremony.

While the specific details of the ceremony are typically left to the couple's preferences, there are two key elements that must be included for the marriage to be legally binding. The first is the Declaration of Intent, which often involves the exchange of vows such as "Do you take... I do." The second is the Pronouncement, where you officially pronounce the couple married. These elements are the minimum requirements for a legal ceremony, but additional elements can be added to personalize the experience.

Don't Forget to Make it Official 
After performing the ceremony, it's crucial to fill out the marriage license promptly. The validity of marriage licenses typically ranges from 30 to 90 days, depending on the state. Familiarize yourself with the marriage laws of the jurisdiction where the wedding took place to ensure compliance.

In most cases, it is the responsibility of the officiant to submit the marriage license. While mailing the license is acceptable, it is preferred to drop it off in person to avoid any unforeseen complications. This final step completes the wedding ceremony, and you can congratulate yourself on a job well done.

The ULC Headquarters in Modesto, California, provides invaluable support for ordained ministers. Unlike other organizations that may charge high fees for ordination and necessary documentation, the ULC offers its services at little or no cost. If you ever require a replacement ordination credential there's a minimal fee, and any special documentation is generally at no extra cost unless notarization is required. The ULC's commitment to ministry means that you won't have to worry about excessive charges.

Specific jurisdictions like New York City, Nevada, and Virginia may have additional requirements or notarization procedures. However, the ULC Headquarters is well-equipped to guide you through these processes, ensuring that you have all the necessary documents for a legally recognized wedding ceremony.

Whether you're an aspiring wedding officiant or a couple seeking an officiant, the Universal Life Church Headquarters is your reliable source for obtaining the proper documentation to officiate weddings across the United States. By reaching out to them a couple of weeks before the wedding, you can receive the necessary paperwork at no cost, allowing for a smooth and legally recognized ceremony. With the ULC's support, you can confidently officiate weddings and make lasting memories for couples on their special day.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Answering the Call: Discover the Universal Life Church Ministry


Have you ever wondered how to become an ordained minister? Look no further than the Universal Life Church (ULC), an interfaith organization that offers online ordination. Not only does the ULC provide ordination, but they also go above and beyond by supporting their ministers with all the necessary documents, often at little or no cost, to perform their ministerial duties. In this blog post, we will explore how the original Universal Life Church assists its ministers in obtaining essential documents, ensuring their ability to officiate weddings with confidence and legality.

Ordination Process: 

To become an ordained minister with the ULC, the first step is to submit a written request, either by mail (Universal Life Church, Headquarters 601 Third St. Modesto, CA 95351), email (, or online, to the ULC headquarters. Simply include your full legal name, current mailing address, and a note expressing your desire to become an ordained minister. While some organizations charge hefty fees for ordination, the ULC does not require any payment for this service, though they do accept donations. Rest assured that your ordination is recognized and supported by the original Universal Life Church.

Ordination Benefits: 

Once ordained, the ULC ensures that you receive an explanatory pamphlet and a certificate bearing your name and the date of your ordainment. These documents serve as tangible proof of your status as an ordained minister, giving you the authority to perform various duties and ceremonies that other ordained ministers can undertake. It's important to note that the ULC does not discriminate based on faith or religion, embracing individuals from all backgrounds.

Supporting Ministers with Documentation: 

The ULC understands the importance of proper documentation when officiating weddings. While many jurisdictions have straightforward requirements, some locations have specific regulations that must be followed to ensure the legality and validity of the marriage. The ULC headquarters assists their ministers by providing the necessary documents for various jurisdictions, often at no cost or a minimal fee.
  1. New York City: For weddings in any of the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island, an officiant must register with the City Clerk's office. The ULC can help by providing the required paperwork. By contacting the ULC a couple of weeks before the wedding, they will promptly mail you the necessary documents, ensuring a smooth registration process.
  2. Nevada and Virginia: In Nevada and Virginia, additional steps are involved in the officiation process. These states require notarization of ULC documents to add an extra layer of verification and authenticity. Although notarization incurs a cost, the ULC headquarters can guide you through the process and provide the necessary paperwork for a small donation. This way, you can obtain the required notarized documents without paying exorbitant fees that other sources may charge.

The Universal Life Church is not only dedicated to ordaining ministers but also to supporting them throughout their ministry journey. With the original ULC based in Modesto, California, ministers receive all the essential documents they need to perform their duties at little or no cost. From ordination certificates to wedding officiation paperwork, the ULC ensures that their ministers have the necessary credentials to officiate weddings with confidence and legality. Whether you're seeking an officiant or aspiring to become one, the Universal Life Church is your trusted source for obtaining the proper documents, ensuring a smooth and recognized ceremony wherever your ministry takes you in the United States.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Navigating the Divisions and Challenges within the Universal Life Church

It's likely that you've come across discussions about the ongoing schism in the United Methodist Church in recent months. This division is not entirely surprising when we consider the history of Protestantism. After all, the multitude of Protestant denominations we have today did not emerge from perfect harmony! However, did you know that even the oldest denomination offering free and lifelong ordination has experienced its own splits? The Universal Life tradition currently has two major divisions, along with several smaller splinter groups.

Determining the exact number of smaller organizations claiming the Universal Life Church name but operating independently from the headquarters in Modesto, California, is a challenging task. Some of these groups may have started as chartered congregations before deciding to pursue their own paths. While internet searches do reveal the existence of these smaller branches, quantifying their numbers remains difficult due to uncertainties surrounding their current activity status. Additionally, there is no centralized list available that I am aware of. However, it is important to note that a prominent competitor in this space has emerged—the ULC Monastery.

In 1995, Reverend Dan Zimmerman, a ULC minister, established a website for his congregation called Universal Life Church/ULC Monastery, Inc., which was based in Tucson, Arizona. Reverend Zimmerman sought authorization to accept ordination requests through his website and forward them to the ULC headquarters, enabling individuals to be ordained by our church through this online channel. Authorization was granted, especially since the ULC headquarters did not have its own website at the time. Additionally, Reverend Kirby Hensley, a key figure in the Universal Life Church, emphasized the importance of ULC ministers ordaining others upon request.

In 2005, Zimmerman asked one of his members to assist in managing part of the website from Seattle, Washington. However, an internal dispute arose in 2006, prompting Brother Dan to take responsibility and close his site on August 1st of that year. Consequently, the ULC headquarters revoked the authorization for online ordination requests. Following this, the Seattle group executed what can be seen as a hostile takeover of the Monastery website and transformed it into They now refer to themselves as the Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse, Inc. This organization, operating under the name "Universal Life Church Ministries," although still using the Monastery name, is separate and not affiliated with the original Universal Life Church headquartered in Modesto, California.

If you were ordained by the Universal Life Church before 2006 and contact the Monastery, they will inform you that due to a database change, they do not have access to ordinations prior to that year. However, they will issue a replacement credential based on the date you provide, with a notation at the bottom indicating that the ordination was allegedly "renewed." From a legal standpoint, this becomes the official ordination date for the Universal Life Church Ministries since they did not have records of the Modesto-ordained minister prior to that date. However, those familiar with the Universal Life Church as Reverend Kirby J. Hensley presented it would recognize that ordination is intended to be lifelong, eliminating the need for any "renewals."

Technically speaking, there was indeed a database change in 2006, but it should be noted that this was a result of establishing a new organization not associated with the original Universal Life Church. It appears deceptive to me that the ULCM does not provide transparent information about these developments. Furthermore, over the years, the Monastery has engaged in a purchasing spree, acquiring and utilizing numerous domains incorporating the Universal Life Church name or related terms, including "" Some of these domains are associated with independent websites that communicate with the Monastery behind the scenes while appearing slightly different on the front end. Others simply redirect to one of the ULCM sites. On the other hand, the only domain directly connected to the ULC headquarters is

To clarify, ordinations offered through the Universal Life Church Ministries/Universal Life Church Monastery are still valid for legally recognized weddings. If you were ordained through this branch of the Universal Life Church, you are indeed ordained—just not by the Universal Life Church founded by Reverend Kirby J. Hensley. In practice, this distinction may not matter to you. However, it is worth considering whether you wish to support such an organization. Ultimately, the decision is yours to make.

Unfortunately, the Universal Life Church international headquarters seems to have been lost in the online shuffle, partly due to the Monastery's ownership and use of numerous domains, thereby dominating search results. To my knowledge, the Universal Life Church in Modesto does not engage in online advertising. Furthermore, the official website is outdated and riddled with technical issues. The store displays items as out of stock even when they are not, and there is no updated information about current events. Additionally, the page navigation at the top behaves oddly, necessitating the use of page links in the footer to navigate the site.

There is a page at that was previously authorized to provide official ULC courses, but that authorization is no longer in effect. Other materials are available through that website, but unfortunately, reports indicate that these orders are not being fulfilled. The ULC headquarters has received calls from individuals who ordered through that site and have been waiting for their orders for months. Since it is a separate site and the store is not affiliated with the ULC headquarters, there is little they can do to resolve these issues.

In conclusion, religious divisions can occur even among mail-order ministries and online ordination denominations. From my experience, these divisions often arise due to personal conflicts and struggles for control rather than disagreements over doctrine and beliefs. It is truly a lamentable state of affairs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Exploring the Unique Courses of the Universal Life Church

Not long ago I wrote about the courses available through the Universal Life Church headquarters in Modesto, California. These courses were put together by Rev. Kirby J. Hensley and his wife Lida many years ago. Completion of each course, along with the proper donation, results in a diploma with a rather ostentatious title. For example, you can obtain a Doctor of Biblical Studies, Immortality, or Motivation, among others. As for me, I recently completed the Doctor of Philosophy in Religion. I won't be updating my LinkedIn profile to reflect my newfound status, though! These courses fill a need that is common among religious groups. As I said in that earlier post:

"Religious organizations are free to offer coursework in their beliefs without regulation. It may not be accredited by a regional accreditor or the Association of Theological Schools, but it's valid within the boundaries of the religion. Other denominations do the same thing, though they don't necessarily use such august titles. One good example of this is Community of Christ, a global denomination based in the midwestern United States and descended from the Latter Day Saint tradition begun by Joseph Smith, Jr. They have what they call their 'Temple School,' offering courses in such things as 'Introduction to Scripture' and 'Priesthood Ministry.' The intent of these courses is to provide basic training especially for people who will be assuming leadership roles. Another denomination doing something similar is the Unitarian Universalist Association, which operates the UU Institute to educate and empower members for various forms of leadership and ministry. Course offerings include 'Developing and Managing a Music Program' and 'Unitarian/Universalist Colonial Legacy: Are We an Imperial Faith?'"

To that list I would also add the Humanist Studies Program offered through the AHA Center for Education.

This particular course I recently took through the ULC relied on an interesting little book published by the denomination. It's a "Holy Bible" that consists of an abridged Old and New Testament, as well as a section Rev. Hensley called the "Testament of Today." It was published in 1977. But what purpose does it serve?

In the Universal Life Church, as in a denomination like the Unitarian Universalist Association, it isn't assumed that the ordained minister will have a deep familiarity with the Bible. Each minister is free to believe whatever they like, and people come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are Christians, others Buddhists, many are probably nonreligious, and there are certainly atheists among the clergy as well. The only unifying tenets are the charges to do only that which is right, and support freedom of religion. In this context, a book like this abridged Holy Bible can really come in handy.

Although I didn't read it cover to cover, I think a person could easily read the condensed Holy Bible within a week, with just an hour or so of daily reading. Doing so would give a person a broad understanding of the themes of the Bible, with key events. Certainly no one will become a published scholar based on what is learned from this book, but a ULC minister with limited familiarity of the Bible will find it very useful. The "Testament of Today" is also an intriguing snapshot of Rev. Hensley's theology as of the late 1970s. I doubt many would agree with his perspectives today, and indeed some aspects are very odd. It isn't expected that the reader will agree, only that they be made to think. 

The Universal Life Ministerial Formation Network is coming into being to promote more formal education for ULC ministers who desire it, either for professional or personal reasons. That does not mean, however, that the courses available through the ULC HQ should be set aside. These are core documents of our tradition, and they serve a useful purpose. Both those seeking advanced degrees and those who have no intention entering a degree program can benefit from the ULC courses. Try one out and see what you think. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

Officiate Weddings with Universal Life Church's Document Support

If you have been ordained through the original Universal Life Church, based out of Modesto, California, you will remember that you were not required to pay anything for your ordination credential. Replacements incur a small fee, but there's never a charge for the first one, because this is part of the ministry of our denomination. The same goes for any special documentation you might need to officiate weddings. Other groups charge over $30 for what ULC ministers can have for nothing, or next to nothing. Three locations in particular in the United States have special requirements for documentation, and we will look today at how the ULC supports its ministers in this regard.

Before officiating a wedding, it's essential to possess the correct documentation to ensure the ceremony's legality and validity. Each US jurisdiction has its own requirements, and failing to meet them could lead to complications and potential invalidation of the marriage. The ULC headquarters simplifies this process by providing the necessary documents to officiants. In most places the matter is fairly simple. In Arkansas I registered with a county clerk, and only needed to present my ordination certificate. In New Mexico I was never required to present any documentation, and in New Jersey this has been mostly the case. One one occasion a city clerk required proof of my ministry, which I was able to provide with a letter and my ordination credential. This despite the fact that in New Jersey, legally, no such documentation really should be required. Other jurisdictions are not quite so simple.

New York City has specific requirements for wedding officiants. To officiate a wedding in any of the five boroughs, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island, an officiant must register with the City Clerk's office. The Universal Life Church can assist you in obtaining the appropriate documents needed for registration. Simply contact them a two or three weeks before the wedding, and they will mail you the paperwork at no cost.

Nevada and Virginia have additional steps. If you plan to officiate a wedding in either of these states, their respective jurisdictions require the ULC documents to be notarized. Notarization serves as an extra layer of verification and authenticity for these states. Although there is an associated cost for notarization, the ULC headquarters can guide you through the process and provide the necessary paperwork for a small donation. One way or the other, you will not be paying out the nose for documents our church can provide at little or no cost.

Whether you're a couple seeking a wedding officiant or an aspiring officiant yourself, the Universal Life Church headquarters in Modesto, California, is your go-to source for obtaining the proper documents to officiate weddings in any US jurisdiction. By contacting them a couple of weeks before the wedding, they will mail you the necessary paperwork at no cost, ensuring a smooth and legally recognized ceremony. Remember, if you plan to officiate weddings in Nevada or Virginia, notarization is required, and the ULC headquarters can guide you through this process as well. With the ULC's support, you can officiate weddings with confidence, no matter where your ministry takes you in the United States.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Becoming a Board Certified Chaplain


The role of a chaplain is one of great significance, providing spiritual guidance and support to individuals and communities during times of crisis and need. If you are a Universal Life Church (ULC) Minister seeking to expand your ministerial skills and become a board certified chaplain, this blog post will guide you through the process. While the path may require dedication and effort, the rewarding nature of the profession makes it worthwhile. In this article, we will explore the steps necessary to become a board certified chaplain, highlighting the requirements, training, and certification process.

Step 1: Understand the Role of a Chaplain:

Before embarking on the journey towards becoming a board certified chaplain, it is important to have a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities of a chaplain. Chaplains work in diverse settings, including hospitals, military organizations, correctional facilities, hospices, and more. They provide spiritual care, emotional support, and counseling to individuals and families, respecting their beliefs and backgrounds.

Step 2: Research Board Certification Options:

There are several certifying bodies for chaplains, each with its own requirements and application process. One prominent organization is the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). Visit their website ( to familiarize yourself with the necessary steps and criteria for certification. The APC offers two certification options: the Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) and the Board Certified Associate Chaplain (BCAC).

Step 3: Fulfill Educational Requirements:

To become a board certified chaplain, you must meet specific educational criteria. Typically, a minimum of a master's degree in divinity, theology, or a related field from an accredited institution is required. If you do not already hold such a degree, consider pursuing one to fulfill this requirement.

Step 4: Gain Clinical Experience:

In addition to educational qualifications, chaplaincy certification bodies require candidates to accumulate a certain number of hours of clinical pastoral education (CPE) or equivalent experience. CPE programs are typically offered in hospitals, and they provide hands-on training in spiritual care. Completing a CPE program not only fulfills the certification requirement but also offers valuable practical experience in working with patients, families, and healthcare professionals.

Step 5: Join a Professional Chaplaincy Association:

To enhance your professional development and stay updated with the latest practices and trends in chaplaincy, consider joining a professional chaplaincy association such as the APC. Membership in such organizations offers networking opportunities, access to resources, continuing education options, and a sense of community among fellow chaplains.

Step 6: Begin the Certification Process:

Once you have fulfilled the educational and clinical requirements, you can begin the certification process. Start by submitting an application to the certifying body of your choice. For example, for the BCC certification through the APC, you will need to complete an application form and provide the necessary supporting documents, including educational transcripts, CPE certificates, and letters of recommendation. Please note that only Rev. Andre Hensley of the Universal Life Church headquarters in Modesto, California can provide official ULC endorsement for prospective BCCI chaplains. No other denomination of Universal Life, including the one based out of Seattle, is so authorized. Be sure to obtain your ordination through the Modesto ULC if you haven't already, prior to beginning this process. 

Step 7: Prepare for the Certification Exam:

After submitting your application, you will need to prepare for the certification exam. The exam assesses your knowledge and competence in various areas of chaplaincy, including theology, ethics, counseling, and cultural competency. Utilize study materials provided by the certifying body and consider joining study groups or seeking mentorship to enhance your preparation.

Step 8: Take the Certification Exam:

Once you feel adequately prepared, schedule your certification exam. The exam may be administered online or in-person, depending on the certifying body. It typically consists of multiple-choice questions, essays, and case studies. Remember to manage your time effectively during the exam and draw upon your practical experience and knowledge gained through your education and training.

Step 9: Complete the Certification Process:

Upon successfully passing the certification exam, you will move forward in the certification process. This may include additional steps such as an interview or an oral examination. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by the certifying body and submit any required documentation promptly.

Step 10: Maintain Certification and Continued Professional Development:

Once you have achieved board certification, it is essential to maintain your certification by fulfilling the ongoing requirements set by the certifying body. This typically includes continuing education, professional development, and periodic renewal of your certification. Engage in conferences, workshops, and seminars to stay updated with the latest advancements and best practices in chaplaincy.


Becoming a board certified chaplain after being a Universal Life Church Minister requires dedication, education, and hands-on experience. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can embark on a fulfilling journey of professional growth and spiritual service. Remember to research the specific requirements of your chosen certifying body, pursue the necessary education and clinical experience, and prepare thoroughly for the certification exam. As you navigate this process, embrace the opportunity to connect deeply with individuals and communities, providing them with the spiritual support they need during challenging times.

Friday, May 19, 2023

The Essential Responsibilities of a Wedding Officiant


A wedding ceremony is a deeply significant and memorable event in the lives of the couple and their loved ones. As the person responsible for solemnizing the union, the wedding officiant plays a crucial role in ensuring that the ceremony reflects the couple's desires and sets the tone for their future together. In this blog post, we will explore the essential responsibilities of a wedding officiant before, during, and after officiating a wedding ceremony, shedding light on their role in creating a meaningful and unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

Before the Ceremony 

The pre-ceremony phase is when a wedding officiant works closely with the couple to understand their vision and legal requirements. Let's delve into the key responsibilities during this crucial period:

  1. Legalities and Documentation:

    • Familiarize Yourself with Local Laws: It is essential for the officiant to be well-versed in the legal requirements for performing wedding ceremonies in the specific jurisdiction.

    • Obtain Necessary Credentials: The officiant will need to be properly ordained or endorsed. This can be obtained for free, for live, through the Universal Life Church. By requesting ordination through the original ULC based out of Modesto, California, an ordination certificate can be obtained for free through the mail within a couple of weeks.

    • Review and Prepare Required Documentation: The officiant must ensure that all necessary paperwork, such as marriage licenses and certificates, is completed accurately and submitted within the designated timeframe.

  2. Meeting with the Couple:

    • Establish Rapport: Building a strong rapport with the couple is vital for the officiant to understand their beliefs, preferences, and expectations for the ceremony.

    • Discuss Ceremony Structure and Elements: Collaborate with the couple to design a ceremony that reflects their unique personalities, cultural traditions, and desired level of formality.

    • Offer Guidance and Suggestions: Provide expert advice on incorporating meaningful rituals, vows, readings, and music that align with the couple's vision.

  3. Writing the Ceremony Script:

    • Craft a Personalized Ceremony: Based on the couple's input and preferences, the officiant should write a heartfelt and engaging ceremony script that captures their love story and values.

    • Seek Approval and Make Revisions: Share the initial draft with the couple and be open to incorporating their feedback, ensuring that the final script resonates with their expectations.

During the Ceremony 

The wedding ceremony is the moment when the officiant brings the couple's union to life. Here are the primary responsibilities to fulfill during this significant stage:

  1. Setting the Tone:

    • Create an Inviting Atmosphere: The officiant should strive to create a warm and inclusive environment that helps both the couple and guests feel comfortable and engaged.

    • Articulate the Significance of the Occasion: Through well-crafted words, the officiant should highlight the gravity and joy of the moment, emphasizing the couple's commitment and the sanctity of marriage.

  2. Officiating the Ceremony:

    • Lead the Procession and Introduction: As the ceremony begins, the officiant directs the procession and formally welcomes the couple and their loved ones.

    • Deliver the Ceremony Script: With poise and clarity, the officiant presents the ceremony script, guiding the couple and guests through each component, including readings, vows, and exchange of rings.

    • Incorporate Rituals and Traditions: If desired by the couple, the officiant should seamlessly integrate any rituals, cultural customs, or religious practices into the ceremony, respecting their significance and meaning.

  3. Facilitate Emotional Moments:

    • Maintain a Calm Demeanor: The officiant should exude a sense of calmness and composure, ensuring that the ceremony proceeds smoothly, even if unexpected situations arise.

    • Support and Encourage the Couple: Offering a reassuring presence, the officiant should provide emotional support to the couple, helping them relax and savor the moment.

After the Ceremony 

The officiant's responsibilities do not end when the ceremony concludes. Here's what they should address after officiating a wedding:

  1. Finalize Legal Documentation:

    • Sign and File Marriage Certificates: Ensure that the couple and witnesses sign the marriage certificates, and promptly file them with the appropriate authorities as per legal requirements.

  2. Offer Congratulations and Gratitude:

    • Congratulate the Couple: Express heartfelt congratulations to the newly married couple and wish them a lifetime of happiness and love.

    • Thank the Couple and Guests: Extend gratitude to the couple for entrusting the officiant with such an important role and acknowledge the presence and support of the guests.

  3. Follow-Up and Feedback:

    • Post-Ceremony Communication: Reach out to the couple after the wedding to inquire about their satisfaction and offer any additional assistance or guidance if needed.

    • Seek Testimonials: If appropriate, request a testimonial from the couple to build credibility and help future couples make an informed decision when selecting an officiant.


A wedding officiant's responsibilities extend far beyond the few minutes they spend standing at the altar. From meticulous planning to executing a heartfelt ceremony, and then ensuring proper legal documentation, their role is integral to the couple's special day. By adhering to their responsibilities before, during, and after the ceremony, an officiant can contribute to a seamless, memorable, and personalized wedding experience. Ultimately, their dedication and attention to detail help create a cherished memory that will be treasured for a lifetime.

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