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VonNoble

I Have Met The Ulc Enemy

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Like many here, I suspect - I didn't know what exactly I would "do" with my ordination

but that didn't keep me from applying for it.

I had some vague notions about some day.

When the first opportunity came to identify myself "as a minister" - I did so hesitantly as

after all - even I didn't believe that a "legal" fine line made me into my notion of all that a

"minister" should know or be able to do.

Over the past ten years I have realized that many of the obstacles to "success" and

acceptance were obstacles that were largely of my own making. I assumed when I should

not have....I foisted projections that were not reality.....I feared responses that never came

and I failed to give others the benefit of the doubt.

Like everyone at some time or another.

Even now when people ask (and they do ask) where I received my ordination, where I went

to the seminary, what degrees I have, by who's authority do I "preach" - and the endless

questions about denominational affiliation.....I realize they are MOST often nothing more

than curiosity.

As my vision has grown, as my wisdom has inched forward....I realize that people are naturally

curious. It is not necessarily an attack. I do not need to drop to ninja defensive posture every

time someone makes an inquiry.

Often if I conduct my response openly - honestly .....I get a chance to explain fully and make

a new friend.

So...because this Forum has lots of lookers and frequent new arrivals who are unsure of the

questions that are about to happen all around them....it seems a good time to review some of

the most frequently asked questions we receive. And gather some really good responses

(that are not retorts, debates or at all negative about anything or anyone. )

Anyone up for it?

Von

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Wow Von, perhaps your commentary above should be "suitable for framing"!

Yes indeed, people are curious and not everyone is out to challenge or demean our Ordinations. I am surprised how many everyday folks are not even aware that the Universal Life Church is what it is. When I've answered I received my "Doctorates in Religious Humanities" from the Universal Life Church, the only people who have ever questioned, shrugged off or spoken negatively have been members of a certain church, also in Modesto, and the "Ministers Council" in the town I live in now. The vast majority of the public has usually answered "Oh cool" or "Ah ha" or such...but nothing negative.

Actually this has gotten me to think back over the past 6 years and unfortunately my negative reactions all come from the same basic group. I suppose as human beings we tend to remember the negs and fail to properly acknowledge the positives along our journey....after all it is usually the negative things in life that hang most heavy in our minds.

This has made me bring to mind the couples who have eagerly sought me out for officiating their weddings, christenings of babies, house or business blessings and even a race car blessing. Naturally in my case, most of these are from the Ásatrú Community.

The most common questions I've answered are:

Are you ordained (licensed) to perform weddings? yes, by all laws of the State

Have you performed a wedding before? yes

Is there anything that would deem our union unlawful? no, and besides the Certificate I am giving you, I also cover several side issues in the printed material I will give you after the ceremony. You may contact me at any time you have a question or concern.

What rune-gild do you apprentice under/ how did you become a "Vitki"? the US and International Rune-Gilds, I was named Vitki in 1998 by the USRG and Fellow in 2000 at the Gambla Uppsala Summer Solstice by the Yrmin-Drighten of the IRG.

It's been a pleasure to sit and reminisce about the numerous happy couples and individuals I've had the honor of officiating over at one point or another over the past 15 years as an Ásatrú and Runic Vitki and 6 years as an ULC Rev/Officiant.

Blessings of Peace,

edit: I think one of the most important things I've done for those I've officiated over is always being available to them. Even when I've moved I have sent out a postcard and/or e-mail with my new contact info to the addy I have on file. Folks I've either counseled or officiated over even 10-12-15 years ago have responded kindly and been appreciative.

As a minister or Vitki, being available to people is, imho, one of the most important duties.

Edited by Atwater Vitki

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I discovered today, even though I have my Wallet Credentials on me at all times, that one of the local Church supply stores, told me because the Church is in California I am illegible for their Clergy discount, since for they couldn't verify at the time the church was an actual church, which isn't a huge deal to me, and I understand where they are coming from, talking to one of the employees she said that for the discount they need to be able to verify that you are a clergy member of a real church for their accounting department, and their computers didn't have full internet access due to the blocker software on it (they only had access to their website and that of their suppliers).

Turns out that their discount is no sales tax on anything you buy in the store.

Went to another Christian/Church Supply Store locally and showed them my credentials when I was asking about church supplies (primarily the tab/collared shirt, sick call kits and portable communion sets) -and the girl was asking a bunch of questions about the ULC. She was like oh cool when I told her about the church and its history of being founded, though I did have my We Are One introduction booklet with me to help show her a little about the church, and how Rev. Kirby Hensley believed that according to John 15:16 we all were ordained by the Lord himself. She immediately took me over to their counter and said I am going to be put into their system and signed up for their Pastors discount, and said that the doctrine of Do Only which is Right, is one that more churches should implement.

I am discovering most people are like Oh Cool, Sweet, etc... when they find out I am an Ordained Minister, and wanting to know a little more about the church when I tell them it is through the ULC, I have even had a couple say isn't that the church that the Beatles were ordained through, which I tell them truthfully that while I don't know for certain, they may have received an ordination through our church, I do know we have had some celebrities who are ordained through us (referring to the ULC HQ and not myself personally). I have only ran into one or two people who thought that the ULC was a fake church and that I wasnt ordained at all.

I am thinking that when I get around to doing some business cards making sure I have on the bottom of them: for more info on the church please visit ULCHQ.com and ULC.net.

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I am enjoying reading the shared experiences.

Since I live in "the Deep South" ...deep in the "Bible Belt" I did have one comical incident.

It didn't start out that way but it sure ended with thundering laughter.

Someone with an agenda - apparently in an attempt to discredit me (or ULC) not sure which was the primary target -

anyway - I was speaking (I had the microphone) when someone started shouting and the only thing that I heard out of

all the commotion was a question hanging pregnant with promise in the air...

WHAT BIBLE ARE YOU USING because you are painting with a very broad brush and I want to verify what you

claim to know by checking my Bible.

I would love to take credit for being quick-witted but I wasn't.

The room was absolutely quiet. I paused. Looked over the gathering and said;

I most commonly use the same one that Jesus used....

Not a sound. Then lots and lots and lots of laughter....even the heckler ended up grinning.

So there is a one liner if you get a chance to use it. Sometimes the right things blups out without effort.

When that doesn't happen - hopefully this thread will grow to be a resource.

Von

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<p>Its a differing issue with the UK as our laws are different to that of the US. In the UK you have the choice of a Registry civil marriage which is not allowed to have any religious aspect to it by law or you have a religious marriage carried out by a church recognized as registry of marriages. The later part of that is achieved by being accepted as a registrar and also being able to house records somewhere for public viewing. So without owning secure property it is unlikely one is going to get recognized as a registrar.  Must UK ministers do not have the money for property and those who have a venue for services do so by renting property but this again would not fulfill the records storing requirements. </p>

<p>I know we can still bless any marriage after a legal marriage has been carried out at a recognized venue like a registry office but on its own a ULC blessing would have no legal standing.</p>

<p>Another issue is many none ULC UK ministers of religion do have academic degrees and therefore the issue of where was one trained is often asked and the quality of a minister is likely to be judge by one's answer.  Although I have respect for ULC qualifications I am often met with the suggestion that my qualifications are just "Mickey mouse degrees (otherwise meaning not real qualifications or just paper mill) " and the fact that I cannot carry out a legal wedding lends support for the opinion of some. This often has a bearing on the UK forum too as people join but in seeing little advancement of our qualifications and recognition in the UK then do not return. It is then hard to get things together. We need credibility and I would give my hind teeth for the UK to follow (IMO) the enlightened way the US does with regard to religion and marriage. The other issue here is that church and state are not separate and the Queen is also the head of the church of England in the UK. This makes applying for jobs like Hospital Chaplin difficult as ministers of large churches like the CofE and the RC and some protestant churches (but not all) are likely to be employed in preference to someone of an unknown quality like a ULC minister.</p>

<p>So in my opinion in UK terms the enemy of religious freedom and the ULC getting established is the UK government.</p>

<p>Now as Von and AV has described one can get personal credibility on ones personal standing by being a service to others but on legal terms and recognition not much gets moved in the recognition of the ULC as whole in the UK. Some have hoped to get recognition by promoting themselves as ministers of established faiths like Christianity but this does open the way for having a multi faith church like that at Modesto.</p>

<p>In my view religious freedom does not exist in the UK unless one is rich enough to buy that credibility.So any millionaires out there who want to establish the ULC in the UK and strike one up for religious freedom of all faiths then please get in touch with Modesto and tell them you want to build in the UK and establish a UK ULC presence like that of the US and perhaps things may change. Failing that then its a matter of getting a large number of people to tell the UK government that people want a change in the present arrangement. That is also not proving easy.</p>

Edited by Pete

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Pete,

Thanks for your post - I learned a great deal from it.

It did help widen my perspective.

We can minister small scale without buildings, weddings, and funerals.

Much of my work is done on a one-to-one basis.

Like many I suspect in the ULC - we worked out of our living-room initially. We seek nothing

from the government in much of our community outreach.

Helping others does not involve changing paperwork in many instances. I think that is one of ULC's

strong advantages. We are free to look around us and DO RIGHT to whatever

extent we are able.

Additionally, the credentials to DO RIGHT begin with being an example of living right. That is ultimately

the credential most likely to garner attention and belief in our words. Which I suspect you do already.

It is frustrating to want to do more (and be stymied by legal and financial issues) but each of us has the

opportunity - stymied or not - to have an impact. Having read your posts - I am pretty sure you do a

good job of being a ULC advocate by the nature of your life and the depth of your compassion.

Therefore you are answering more questions than you ever heard asked.

People have sometimes implied my ordination is not real. Not for long though.

The measure of the validation lies within I suspect.

You are in good shape from all I can see with any reasonable person you interact with.....

Von

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Pete,

Thanks for your post - I learned a great deal from it.

It did help widen my perspective.

We can minister small scale without buildings, weddings, and funerals.

Much of my work is done on a one-to-one basis.

Like many I suspect in the ULC - we worked out of our living-room initially. We seek nothing

from the government in much of our community outreach.

Helping others does not involve changing paperwork in many instances. I think that is one of ULC's

strong advantages. We are free to look around us and DO RIGHT to whatever

extent we are able.

Additionally, the credentials to DO RIGHT begin with being an example of living right. That is ultimately

the credential most likely to garner attention and belief in our words. Which I suspect you do already.

It is frustrating to want to do more (and be stymied by legal and financial issues) but each of us has the

opportunity - stymied or not - to have an impact. Having read your posts - I am pretty sure you do a

good job of being a ULC advocate by the nature of your life and the depth of your compassion.

Therefore you are answering more questions than you ever heard asked.

People have sometimes implied my ordination is not real. Not for long though.

The measure of the validation lies within I suspect.

You are in good shape from all I can see with any reasonable person you interact with.....

Von

I agree Von. Ministering is not all about doing marriages.

I guess my frustration is that I want to see the ULC take off in the UK as it has in the US. I want to see ministry available to all faiths and a place where all can call home in the UK without having to be directed by the dictates of those who are already established in their own church organisations and supported by the state. In short I would love to see a branch office of the church of Modesto in the UK.

The Quakers get around much of this legislation without ministers by keeping all their records in the Quaker HQ in London. So although marriages are carried out locally without a minister (being signed by all the attending congregation instead) they are recognized in law.

I hope and dream that one day this will happen for us. I just wish it was sooner rather than later. I also wish it for all faiths and viewpoints and not just my own. I do not believe we have religious freedom until something like this happens. For me real religious freedom is only brought into being by an organisation that recognizes all faiths and viewpoints and I do not see another organisation that can even competes with the ULC on this.

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One of the most frequent questions I am asked....

Who ordained you? What church ordained you? Are you really an ordained minister?

I checked with the Secretary of State as to which churches could legally ordain people in this state.

I discovered the Universal Life Church in California was both recognized and legal.

I applied. They accepted my application and I was ordained by them.

There are rarely an additional questions.

TWICE only in ten years - someone asked about it being an "on line" or not-real ordination.

Certainly you could view it that way. Then again, (insert smile here) you know there are some formally

trained clergy who are not getting it too right so I am not sure that the formal schooling approach

guarantees a perfect solution either, does it?

I could then fall back on my College credentials to remove the doubt that I had some formal training

- perhaps not from a seminary but something in a related field.

Since it only came up twice in ten years - I suspect it is no more of an issue that the very same question

put to any clergy and it is a fair question. Ya wanna know the person to whom you are entrusting

some important exchanges appears to be a solid sort.

Also twice I have had someone "sneak attack" or attempt to by revealing in group settings that I

have "nothing more than an on line ordination as a credential"......and both times I quickly agreed

with them. In fact loudly agreed with them and quickly point out that I have given interviews stating

that - so it is no secret.

I add that after years in business I didn't feel I needed to learn how to administrate running the paper

work side of a church or manage the people. I already had college level courses in comparative

religions. And didn't see much in standard seminaries that would be additionally helpful to me to set

up a NEW kind of church. Free of some of the now meaningless rituals of long ago.

At which point the subject bounced back to what we actually are doing and the spotlight was off of me and

ULC.

I guess being very up front about ULC helps both you and ULC

If you are generally considered to be a stable person and you have no qualms about being open

about your ULC ordination - most often no one will make much of it. When they do - it is a teachable

moment.

You CAN opt to go into the entire history of ULC

OR....you CAN got into your own entire history and why ULC was the expedient means to an end for

legality purposes.

Either way - I note the VALUE of ULC in providing a vehicle by which many a good work happens, many a

church is started and many a solid upright person can move forward with their calling - be it a calling from

God or a tugging of the heart or a need to reach out and do more.

Seems to work.

Von

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Thanks for all of the opinions! As a newly ordained minister, hearing these stories helps me to decide how to proceed.

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very rarely does anyone call my ordination"invalid",mostly questions about"am i licensed?"and can i marry people.i usually explain that i am ordained in all 50 states,but not licensed by all.as far as marrying people,yes i have.

i have never been questioned concerning education,or qualifications.most of my"ministry"is one on one,and this works well for me.

by the way von,it has been just over 10 years since we started this journey.glad to still be walking with you.

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Like Jonathan, I believe I first applied to the ULC "on a lark", thinking it would be "neat" to be able to "call myself a minister". But it wasn't long before a friend wound up in jail, and I, as his minister, was permitted visitation privileges, and was able to let him know that his family knew his whereabouts, and "we" would not forget him. And suddenly, being "a minister" felt ...real.

And yes, it is something you "grow into" imho.

Hex

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I am ordained through ULC (and very proud of it.) I was even able to marry my brother off :) I have a funny question... I have met someone and have considered getting married. Could I perform the ceremony for us? Like, could I marry us? So bizarre but really curious. I'm in Tennessee which is a tricky state but he resides in Kentucky which is much more mellow so we could do it there. Thank you for any advice to my strange question!

Annie

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I am ordained through ULC (and very proud of it.) I was even able to marry my brother off :) I have a funny question... I have met someone and have considered getting married. Could I perform the ceremony for us? Like, could I marry us? So bizarre but really curious. I'm in Tennessee which is a tricky state but he resides in Kentucky which is much more mellow so we could do it there. Thank you for any advice to my strange question!

Annie

My best guess is that legally, you can't perform your own wedding. I don't know for sure, though -- I never would have thought to look it up! I suggest that you contact the Circuit Court for the city or county in which you plan to be married. They will know the answer.

What I would do is get legally married in at the courthouse, then perform your wedding however you want to, for there is no law against that.

Edited by RevJohnG

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well, the question belongs in Legal.. but.. as all things legal, it depends. Most states, I suspect, have small religious communities that perform their rites without the benefit of "clergy". I suspect many states have exemptions encoded in the law to allow this, and I doubt any specify the religious communities allowed to do that. When I became ordained, that, in fact, was one of my reasons for doing so. I was also unsure if the law allowed it. We opted to have a friend ordained, and she performed the wedding, but, after extended time reading Wisconsin law, I am pretty sure it would be legal here. You will have to consult a lawyer to be mostly sure, and a legal challenge and court is the only method to be nearly certain. But start by looking up the marriage statutes in the states you are considering. Google is your friend.

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