|(Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Is online ordination a legal ordination?
Yes. As an independent church with members around the world, The
West Virginia Church of Christ Family Help Ministry has the same legal rights as any other
church. This includes the right to legally ordain ministers, to issue
independent church charters, and other legally recognized church activities.
2. That sounds good, but what is the legal basis of this?
In 1974, the United States government was sued by the Universal Life Church in
response to the government's challenge to 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, etc. 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. If that's true, why doesn't this ministry issue Dr. of Divinity degrees?
Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degrees are available from our Educational Outreach
Ministry, West Virginia Church of Christ International School Of Biblical Studies.
4. How is an ordination from The West Virginia Church of Christ family Help Ministry different
from an ordination from the Universal Life Church, World Christianship
Ministries, or other mail-order ordination services?
That's a good question. Since there are differences in the two, let me first
address the ULC, then World Christianship Ministries and others.
First, it is important to recognize that the Universal Life Church, while it is
a church, is not really a Christian church. Their only doctrine of belief is
that one should "do what is right", and they make no definitive statement of
what is right, but leave that up to each individual member. The ULC openly and
as a matter of policy embraces all belief systems, even atheism. See, even an
atheist can be ordained by the Universal Life Church. These are all openly
stated policies of the ULC. If you are a Christian who has been ordained by ULC,
you are especially encouraged to join our church and receive a truly Christian
World Christianship Ministries, as well as United Faith Ministries, and others
like them, are what is known as "Ordination Ministries", and are sometimes
referred to as "mail-order ordination services". As such, they provide a service
and fill a need, and it is not my intention to claim otherwise or in any way
defame them. However, they are not churches. They don't have a church
membership, beyond their own records of ordination, or certain "associations" of
clergy, membership to which they charge a fee. In all fairness, they don't claim
to be churches. They are, in fact, exactly what they say they are, "Ordination
The West Virginia Church of Christ Family Help Ministry, on the other hand, is a Christian
church, based on the Bible and its teachings, and committed to spreading the
Gospel of Christ. We have an active membership of Christians around
the world. Membership in our church is free, as are our ordinations and
independent church charters. So, when you've been ordained by The
West Virginia Church of Christ Family Help Ministry, you can rest assured that your ordination is
from a Christ-centered church. That is what makes our ordination different from
those offered by the Universal Life Church, World Christianship Ministries, and
other "Ordination Ministries".
5. Okay, but I haven't donated any money, or gotten a Certificate of Ordination,
or anything like that. I received a free 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. Also, many of our clergy do like to
have the Certificate of Ordination and laminated wallet sized card. For more
information about these and other materials available to our members, you
can visit our Ordained Clergy Credentials Catalogue Page by clicking here.
6. 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?
The West Virginia Church of Christ Family Help Ministry Intl. will issue free Independent
Church Charters to its members via e-mail. Send your name, the name of your church, and the
address or URL of your church to (email@example.com) .
( Requires semi-annual contact, with issuing Church, to remain Valid and Legal )
7. I got ordained so I could perform marriages. What do I need to do to legally
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
Rev.Dr.Lance Micklus has created an excellent resource page on having a marriage
ministry. It includes information on counseling couples, and gives detailed
instructions on performing several types of marriage ceremonies. To visit this
marriage ministry page, Click Here.
8. 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?
As an ordained Christian minister, 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
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.
9. 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 The
West Virginia Church of Christ Family Help Ministry?
Any assistance to this ministry is greatly appreciated, and will help keep the
ministry afloat and active. For your convenince, Contributions can be sent by credit card thru our
Tiths and offerings page , And click Donations button, or send to,
West Virginia Family Help Ministry
P.O. Box 4017
Grafton West Virginia 26354
Contributions are tax deductible, include name and address , For return reciept , For tax purposes,
Financial , Auto , Property, Donations used strickly for Familys in desperate need . And spreading the
Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the World.
Or visit our Catalog page at the link provided above to support our ministry
through purchasing any of the materials offered there.
10. 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. 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. Or Click Here
11. Do I have to wear clerical clothing , While performing marriages or other services?
No, that's completely optional. A nice suit and tie if you're a man, or dress or
gown if you're a woman, should be acceptable for almost any occasion. In some
instances, the couple being married may actually prefer an informal ceremony and
request that you "dress down". You should attire yourself according to the
wishes of the couple being married.
12. I've been ordained, but I'm not sure what sort of ministry I should start.
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.
13. Different types of ministries? What do you mean?
There are many different types of ministries. 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 .
I hope this FAQ has helped you with your ordination and new ministry. God bless you.
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