Sunday, July 16, 2023

Open Ordination: A Policy and Practice of Liberation

Religion, throughout the ages, has often served as a source of solace, inspiration, and a framework for understanding the universe's many mysteries. At its best, it brings together people from diverse backgrounds in a shared quest for meaning, connection, and moral guidance. However, the history of religious institutions is marred by exclusionary practices, with the right to ministerial roles often denied to those outside of certain demographics. This is where the Universal Life Church (ULC) presents a strikingly modern approach. It embraces the principle of open ordination, offering an inclusive platform where anyone can become an ordained minister, regardless of their religious affiliation or personal background. This essay advocates for ordination through the ULC as an act of liberation, promoting diversity, equality, and inclusive spiritual practice.

The Unifying Tenets of the Universal Life Church

The ULC's unique approach to ordination is grounded in two basic tenets: doing what is right and respecting every individual's freedom of religion. There is no prescriptive dogma or doctrine, only an underlying ethos that encourages ethical behavior and honors religious diversity. This means that you, as an ordained minister, are granted the liberty to express your spiritual beliefs and practice your faith without any institutionalized limitations or judgment.

Since its inception in 1962, the ULC has ordained more than 20 million individuals from all corners of the globe. Its ministerial community is as diverse as humanity itself, with ministers coming from myriad cultural, social, and religious backgrounds. This diversity is not just tolerated but celebrated, reinforcing the ULC's commitment to religious freedom and inclusivity.

Open Ordination as an Act of Liberation

To understand how open ordination serves as an act of liberation, we must first delve into the historical context surrounding ordination. Traditionally, ordination is a rite of passage limited to a select group of individuals who meet stringent criteria set by religious organizations. These criteria can include specific educational qualifications, adherence to a particular doctrine, or belonging to a specific gender or social group. Such restrictions inadvertently create a religious hierarchy, alienating those who do not meet these criteria and depriving them of the opportunity to serve their community in a ministerial capacity.

The ULC subverts this entrenched system through its policy of open ordination. By offering free online ordination to anyone who wishes to join, the ULC breaks down barriers of discrimination and exclusivity that have pervaded traditional religious ordination for centuries. It serves as a beacon of inclusivity in a world marred by increasing religious intolerance, promoting a message of unity and universal acceptance.

The act of becoming an ordained minister in the ULC empowers individuals by giving them the authority and credibility to serve their communities, irrespective of their religious beliefs or personal backgrounds. This empowerment is not just symbolic but translates into real-world influence. As ordained ministers, individuals can officiate weddings and funerals, provide spiritual counseling, and even start their own churches or ministries.

Serving the Community as a ULC Minister

As an ordained minister of the ULC, you are provided with a myriad of opportunities to serve and uplift your community. The ULC ministers utilize their ordination in diverse ways, based on their personal beliefs and the needs of their communities.

Some ministers choose to officiate rites of passage, such as weddings and funerals. By doing so, they not only assist individuals in commemorating significant life events but also uphold the ULC's core principle of respecting each individual's religious freedom. Others may offer spiritual counseling, providing guidance and emotional support based on their own spiritual insights and experiences.

ULC ministers can also establish their own religious organizations or ministries, creating spaces for like-minded individuals to explore their spirituality. This can range from organizing group meditation sessions to teaching classes on spiritual and religious subjects.

Another crucial role of a ULC minister lies in advocacy. With the ULC's underlying tenets of doing what is right and respecting religious freedom, ministers are uniquely positioned to champion causes related to social justice, equality, and freedom of belief. This can involve working towards religious tolerance, combating discrimination, or promoting inclusivity within their communities.

The Path to Ordination

Becoming an ordained minister with the ULC is a simple and straightforward process. The path to ordination begins on the ULC website, where prospective ministers fill out an online form, agreeing to uphold the ULC's two basic tenets. Confirmation of ordination arrives via email within minutes, and a physical copy of the ordination credential follows by mail within two weeks. There are no hidden costs, making this liberating opportunity available to all, regardless of their economic status.

In conclusion, the Universal Life Church has democratized the concept of ordination, effectively making it an instrument of liberation. By tearing down traditional barriers to religious authority, it creates a space where diversity is celebrated, and everyone is welcome. The ULC's policy of open ordination is not just a nod towards inclusivity; it is a resounding declaration of faith in humanity's ability to seek the divine in myriad ways. It embodies the belief that religious freedom is not just the right to practice one's religion but also the right to serve as a religious guide for others. With such a liberating and empowering opportunity at your fingertips, the call to become an ordained minister with the ULC is a call to change the world, one act of love and acceptance at a time.

So, embrace the act of liberation that the ULC offers. Get ordained, spread the message of inclusivity, and make a tangible difference in the world. The journey to making a positive change begins with a simple step - your ordination.

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