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How to Become a Legally Ordained Minister in Georgia
You live in Georgia and have decided to become an ordained minister. People make this decision for numerous reasons, including starting a business and performing weddings, but the ordination process varies little no matter why you have chosen to do this. Georgia does not have any state licensing requirements for ministers, so any ordination from a religious institution or online organization will satisfy state laws for performing rites such as marriage, baptisms and funerals. Georgia does not require the ordaining organization to appear within the state's boundaries, or that a presiding minister actually live in the state.
Attend the required college or university training programs stipulated by the church or religious institution you wish to join, and complete the course work. Many religious organizations require seminary education prior to becoming ordained, though these requirements vary widely by institution.
Choose a recognized ministry to perform the ordination for you if you are a non-denominational Christian or member of an organization which doesn't require seminary education. Many online Christian organizations around the nation perform this service for Georgia residents such as World Christianship Ministries and American Fellowship Church, as well as non-Christian entities such as the Universal Life Church. In Georgia specifically, the First International Church of the Web--a daughter ministry of Saint Luke Evangelical Christian Ministries, located in Hephzibah, Georgia--can perform this service for your.
Review the requirements of the organization you choose. Some require course work, some charge a flat fee, some charge a recurring fee, and some require nothing more than an email submission. Georgia's First International Church of the Web requires you to have membership with the parent church, but does not charge a fee for ordination.
Submit an application form to the organization you choose. You can usually do this through email or the ministry's website. Some, like World Christianship Ministries, require you to mail or fax an order form with your information and payment for any materials you request, such as a certificate of ordination.
Save the document the ministry sends you. It may arrive as an email, a wallet-sized card or a certificate. The document makes you legally ordained and able to perform religious rites in Georgia, subject to county laws. The document from the ministry acts as your proof of ordination, if someone such as the County Clerk requests it.
Some ministries reflect a broad spectrum of beliefs, while others are more specific. Review your organization's statement of faith before applying for ordination to ensure that you and the ministry accurately reflect each other's spiritual position.
Simply becoming ordained does not automatically grant you tax-exempt status. Before you attempt to become tax-exempt, consult a licensed CPA or other tax professional. Typically, the ministry that ordained you will not represent you legally if you run into trouble with the law as a result of your ordination.
Stephen Hicks has been writing professionally since 2000. He recently published his first novel, "The Seventh Day of Christmas." He spent three years as a licensed life and property/casualty insurance agent in California. Hicks holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in cinema studies from New York University.