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What Does it Mean to Be Ordained?

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It might have been Joey Tribbiani on the television show Friends or just an overall rising desire to perform wedding ceremonies for your friends. But the idea of becoming ordained to perform weddings seems to be appealing to people now more than ever. Whether you have a heartfelt call to ministry or a simple hankering for official ordination, the significance of the responsibility and what it allows you to do is important to understand.

What Does It Mean?

To be ordained means that you are authorized to function in a ministerial capacity. Some men and women feel called to a lifetime of ministry and become ordained to prepare for this lifestyle. Traditionally, ordained ministers enter into areas like pastoring a church, children’s ministry or missionary work.

What Is Required?

Many Christian denominations require several years of seminary or college to be officially ordained to lead one of their churches. Some find that this isn’t a path for them to take, however. For others who just want the legal authority, the Universal Life Church and the American Fellowship Church’s online ordinations are a good option. They educate and ordain anyone wanting to become a minister. The process usually requires agreeing to their terms and submitting your information. Some websites charge a fee, while others are free.

Who Can Become Ordained?

Unless you have a specific denomination in mind, chances are you can become ordained. Most online ordination programs will ordain any man or woman in the United States, Canada and several other countries regardless of their lifestyle, gender or faith, while many churches are more specific about who they ordain.

What Does It Allow You to Do?

Becoming ordained allows you to perform in a ministerial role. This includes conducting marriage ceremonies, baptisms, funerals, anointing of people and sometimes even exorcism. You might only be interested in performing the wedding ceremony of a friend, or you may be interested in starting your own congregation and leading church services.

Legality Issues

Although almost anyone can become ordained online, it is important to check with your local authorities to make sure there are no restrictions in the area for performing ceremonies. A few states and many Canadian provinces will not recognize a marriage as legal when it is performed by someone who only became ordained to marry people. Be sure to check with your County Clerk to ensure that your ordination is recognized.


Kristie Lorette started writing professionally in 1996. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and multinational business from Florida State University and a Master of Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University. Her work has appeared online at Bill Savings, Money Smart Life and Mortgage Loan.

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