Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is online ordination a legal ordination?
Yes. As an independently chartered non-profit organization, Praise Christ Ministries has the same legal rights as any other church. This includes the right to legally ordain ministers, to issue independent church charters, and even to award honorary Doctor of Divinity Degrees in recognition of service to our church.
2. That sounds good, but what is the legal basis of this?
In 1974, the United States government sued the Universal Life Church and challenged their right to have a tax-exempt status. When the judge ruled on this case, he also addressed the question of mail-order ordination, independent church charters, and Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degrees. While the Universal Life Church is not really a Christian ministry, nevertheless they performed a great service to all non-traditional ministries by fighting this case in court and eventually winning.
The following is excerpted from the court's decision in this case. The Universal Life Church is referred to as Plaintiff:
"...an Honorary Doctor of Divinity is a strictly religious title with no academic standing. Such titles may be issued by bona fide churches and religious denominations, such as plaintiff, as long as their issuance is limited to a course of instruction in the principles of the church or religious denomination... The statute is silent as to recognized honorary titles conferred for some meritorious recognition."
The court then addressed the issue of whether the ordination of ministers, granting of church charters, and the issuance of Honorary Doctor of Divinity certificates are substantial activities which do not further any religious purpose. The following is excerpted from the court's decision:
"Certainly the ordination of ministers and the chartering of churches are accepted activities of religious organizations... The fact that the plaintiff distributed ministers' credentials and Honorary Doctor of Divinity certificates is of no moment. Such activity may be analogized to mass conversions at a typical revival or religious crusade."
Now here is the real meat of the court's decision, and the part that guarantees the legality of your ordination:
"Neither this Court, nor any branch of this Government, will consider the merits or fallacies of a religion. Nor will the Court compare the beliefs, dogmas, and practices of a newly organized religion with those of an older, more established religion. Nor will the Court praise or condemn a religion, however excellent or fanatical or preposterous it may seem. WERE THE COURT TO DO SO, IT WOULD IMPINGE UPON THE GUARANTEES OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT."
So you can see, your ordination is completely legal and every bit as respectable as an ordination from any other church. If you'd like to read the complete case decision, it's filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, Civil No. S-1954.
3. Okay, but I haven't gotten a Certificate of Ordination, or anything like that. I received an ordination, and all I have is an e-mail letter. Is this legally recognized?
Yes, e-mail is a legal document. Of course, you should print or save the e-mail letter of ordination for your own records.
4. Okay, I've been ordained, and I'm ready to start a ministry or church. How do I get an Independent Church Charter? What's that cost?
Praise Christ Ministries is happy to issue Independent Church Charters via e-mail. You will be chartered in the Praise Christ Ministries Fellowship of Ministers and Churches. Praise Christ Ministries is incorporated as a non-profit organization in the State of North Carolina. A charge of $45.00 is made for this charter. Send your name, the name of your church, and the address or URL of your church to Pastor Ray Nix at Pastor Ray.
5. I got ordained so I could perform marriages. What do I need to do to legally perform marriages?
You just need to check with your local County Clerk's Office and get details on things like filing the marriage license, ages of consent, blood test requirements, etc. They'll be happy to give you all the details and necessary forms. While you're there, ask them to show you how to fill out the license, so you can be sure you do everything correctly. Other things to check on are whether you need to file a copy of your ordination credentials before doing weddings, whether you need a license from the state or county to do weddings, how many days before you must return the marriage license to the county, which office to file the license with, and are there any other requirements before you can perform weddings.
Finally, Nevada, Oregon, and New York City all have laws that may require you to have a formally recognized church with a congregation before being allowed to do weddings. This may require you to incorporate your ministry in Oregon and Nevada.
6. I'm glad I got ordained, but some of the people I tell about it don't seem to take it seriously. What should I do?
Now that you've been ordained, it's up to you to make the most of it. If you minister to others, show Christian love in all your actions, start a church or ministry, and otherwise demonstrate your calling as a Christian minister, who can argue with your ordination? Look at it this way - do people respect the Rev. Billy Graham because he carries around a document that says he's ordained? No, of course not! They respect him because he is obviously a man who has committed himself to serving Our Lord. If you are also committed to service and ministry, you'll be respected as a minister, no matter where your ordination came from.
7. Becoming an ordained minister has changed my life, and I'd like to help support the ministry that ordained me. How can I contribute to Praise Christ Ministries?
You may send your offerings or letters of support to Praise Christ Ministries, PO Box 22, Aurora, NC 27806. All donations are tax-deductible and you will receive a receipt for your offering.
8. Where can I find information on how to perform a marriage, baptism, or other rites and services?
Your local Christian book store is a great place to start. Praise Christ Ministries also hosts an online bookstore that should meet most of your needs. Most have a selection of books for clergy covering marriages, baptisms, funerals, writing sermons, etc. They are also good sources for blank marriage and baptism certificates, and even clerical clothing.
9. Do I have to wear clerical clothing while performing marriages or other services?
No, that's completely optional. A nice suit and tie should be acceptable for almost any occassion.
10. I've been ordained, but I'm not sure what sort of ministry I should start. Any suggestions?
This is something that you can only answer after much prayer. You may even try several different types of ministries before you find the right one for you. Our Lord and His Holy Spirit is your best guide when starting any ministry.
11. Different types of ministries? What do you mean?
There are many different types of ministies. Here are a few examples: marriage ministry, bible ministry, chaplain, Christian relief ministry, church minister or pastor, evangelist, street ministry, tract ministry, film ministry, home fellowship ministry, hospital or nursing home ministry, prison ministry, home visitation ministry, informational ministry, missionary work, music ministry, one on one ministry, radio and T.V. ministry, rescue mission ministry, or you may even want to start a ministry on the internet!
I hope this FAQ has helped you with your ordination and new ministry. God bless you.