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nickzander

"as Long As They Continue In The Work Of The Ministry"

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I might be needed to officiate a wedding in Connecticut and neither the law, as written, nor the town clerk are very clear on whether I qualify or not.

It comes down the the phrase "as long as they continue in the work of the ministry" being the measure of one's ordination. I have been ordained for over a decade, but I do not minister to a congregation.

Does anyone know of precedent in CT or how to interpret that pesky phrase?

Thanks

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I can only give you suggestions based on my interpretation of the law where you are, I would recommend checking with the COUNTY clerk, or the CITY clerk in your county seat though. The law states "All ordained or licensed clergymen belonging to this state or any other state may perform marriages as long as they continue in the work of the ministry. -- -Marriage license must be completed by the minister and returned to the city or town clerk. --- For questions see the city or town clerk." My Interpretation is: 1. Non - Residents CAN perform marriages in CT. and 2."Continuing in the work of the ministry" implies to me at least that CT is requiring you to have an actual congregation in order to perform marriages.

Hope this helps!

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"Continuing in the work of the ministry" to me implies that you have to do working for the ministry in some kind of ongoing situation - whether it be in a church, a seminary, or headquarters. For example, the statement could allow the Pope to conduct a marriage in Connecticut as he has "Continuing in the work of the ministry" (i.e. he is the head of the church.)

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You should have a look at my topic "County Clerks. What are They Good For, (Absolutely Nothing)"

It's really not absolutely true. They do have some function. And in some cases some enforcement authority as well. But in no case can County Clerks offer legal advice. Hence my topic title.

So many people go to the county clerks in hopes of getting an interpretation of the law and wind up disappointed that they are told that the clerks office cannot help them, or find the clerks standing there with a confused look on their face like you have pigs flying out of your ears.

County Clerks are simply that. CLERKS. They file paperwork. Usually that is the end of the story. In some cases they make determinations if one qualifies to be registered in that state to perform marriages. However, if you state does not require registration, don't be surprised if you get that blank state.

If a state does not require registration (or licensing) then the clerk can certainly help you with the procedures for filing the paperwork correctly and in a timely manner, but that is the linit of what you should expect from them Anything more consider it a bonus, or that the clerk is overstepping the bounds of their authority.

In states where registration (or licensing) is required, the clerks may know a little more, and may offer some insight as to the minimal qualifications ti become registered, but still cannot offer legal advice. They merely use the interpretation of their county attorney to determine whether of not documentation provided is sufficient to issue the license or registration.

Don't let me leave you, or anyone, with the impression that county clerks have no value at all. They are really helpful in matters pertaining to procedures of getting, completing, and returning the license. I always advocate the collection of information from a multitude of sources when formulating my own legal opinions, even that of attorneys. The problem is, most state laws have NOT been challenged when it comes to matters of religion. Therefore, it is always a possibility that anyone could find themselves in the middle of a federal suit should any party to a marriage decides to challenge their spouse in a headstrong battle to the end.

It is always best to make sure to remove all possible doubt prior to performing marriages. Either through prior case law, or documentation that you actually minister, on a regular basis, to someone other than your family members. And don't expect participation is an online group satisfactory to any judge, if the case comes up.

Of course, that's just my opinion.

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Mark is right, I haven't found any case law in CT that defines what "work of the ministry" means and I would imagine that there are very few judges that would want to wade in to those waters of what is and is not a religious ministry assuming one actually does some form of ministerial work.

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You should have a look at my topic "County Clerks. What are They Good For, (Absolutely Nothing)"

It's really not absolutely true. They do have some function. And in some cases some enforcement authority as well. But in no case can County Clerks offer legal advice. Hence my topic title.

So many people go to the county clerks in hopes of getting an interpretation of the law and wind up disappointed that they are told that the clerks office cannot help them, or find the clerks standing there with a confused look on their face like you have pigs flying out of your ears.

County Clerks are simply that. CLERKS. They file paperwork. Usually that is the end of the story. In some cases they make determinations if one qualifies to be registered in that state to perform marriages. However, if you state does not require registration, don't be surprised if you get that blank state.

If a state does not require registration (or licensing) then the clerk can certainly help you with the procedures for filing the paperwork correctly and in a timely manner, but that is the linit of what you should expect from them Anything more consider it a bonus, or that the clerk is overstepping the bounds of their authority.

In states where registration (or licensing) is required, the clerks may know a little more, and may offer some insight as to the minimal qualifications ti become registered, but still cannot offer legal advice. They merely use the interpretation of their county attorney to determine whether of not documentation provided is sufficient to issue the license or registration.

Don't let me leave you, or anyone, with the impression that county clerks have no value at all. They are really helpful in matters pertaining to procedures of getting, completing, and returning the license. I always advocate the collection of information from a multitude of sources when formulating my own legal opinions, even that of attorneys. The problem is, most state laws have NOT been challenged when it comes to matters of religion. Therefore, it is always a possibility that anyone could find themselves in the middle of a federal suit should any party to a marriage decides to challenge their spouse in a headstrong battle to the end.

It is always best to make sure to remove all possible doubt prior to performing marriages. Either through prior case law, or documentation that you actually minister, on a regular basis, to someone other than your family members. And don't expect participation is an online group satisfactory to any judge, if the case comes up.

Of course, that's just my opinion.

OK, you have a point! my mistake, my county clerk was only useful to refer me to someone who could answer my question as in NY it's not the county clerk who files the marriage license but the municipal clerk (City, Town or Village) clerk who was able o answer my questions in NY.

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NY's case law is pretty clear that you have to have a actually have a congregation.

I know this and would plan on having that minor hurdle meet prior to officiating a wedding. But it's funny, in NY the pertinent sections of the domestic relations law and religious corporation law seem to say different. see topic http://ulc.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=18771 for more and the quotes given are directly from NY law.

Edited by Rev. Arnold

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Been a court reporter in CT for almost 20 years; and I asked a Judge and a few attorneys that I trust about that phrase. And since it is open to interpretation; and no one has actually ever challenged it, if you do the work of "your" ministry, then you are covered. The ministry can be as little as logging onto this site; or as much as leading a full congregation. It hasn't been challenged. My advice would be to have the persons you are marrying sign a hold harmless agreement; that they understand your ministry credentials were from the ULC; and they agree that you are, in fact, a minister. I say that only because there has been challenges to the legality in other states of our minister credentials after a marriage sours.

Good luck and Blessings

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