Instant Online Ordination
November 18, 2002 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Please address me as Reverend Carlos from now on. Thank you. For I have been ordained a Minister, in two minutes flat, by the Universal Life Church and possess the official document to prove it. Tomorrow I'll be starting my own religion - your contributions and suggestions for a good name for my Church are most welcome. [Sacred instructions inside].
posted by Carlos Quevedo (64 comments total)
I did this ten days ago, using a new garbage email account, fearing the worst. So far, no spam.

I've only received two mails from them - one with the impressive ordination document to print out (choose good paper and nice, black ink for maximum effect and framing purposes) and another offering me a paid course in the ways of flock-keeping which I reluctantly declined.

Great fun was had by all (you can enroll friends and enemies) but I wouldn't want to give anyone any ideas...
posted by Carlos Quevedo at 8:14 AM on November 18, 2002

Me too!
posted by dash_slot- at 8:18 AM on November 18, 2002

I was going to use ULC as a way to have a friend officiate my wedding (as nearly as I can tell, it would be legit, at least in the state of MN), but then he developed a conscience and said he didn't want to be ordained in some internet church he didn't really believe in. Friggin consciences...
posted by COBRA! at 8:32 AM on November 18, 2002

I might just invest 3 minutes of my life just so I can have a official document that says "Reverand Spaceman".

Thanks for the picker-upper Carlos!
posted by jasonspaceman at 8:36 AM on November 18, 2002

About 20 years ago a friend of mine went through the rigamarole to be legally ordained as a minister of his own church. He just wanted the tax benefits, and he thought it was cool in a sort of BobDobbs way.
posted by Shane at 8:38 AM on November 18, 2002

As of June 22nd, 2001 I have am also an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church. The framed Credentials Of Ministry are displayed proudly on my desk at work.
Now if only I could get my employer to convert my salary into an untaxed donation to the church . . .
I suspect more than a few MeFites will come forward as credentialed members of the clergy. Such as it is.
posted by geekyguy at 8:39 AM on November 18, 2002

I did this back in '96. Look at your email again, Carlos. If you get 15 other people to become ordained, ULC will make you a Saint. How does St. Carlos sound?

Also, I am qualified to perform marriages in both the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. I have already performed 5 weddings.

The ULC is great!
posted by St Seneca at 8:43 AM on November 18, 2002

and where is Reverand Metafilter?
posted by twine42 at 8:43 AM on November 18, 2002

Ahh, I've been rev. greengrl. since 1999. I've done two marriages so far, and I'm trying to talk my friends who just had a baby to let me do the baptism... We'll see.
posted by greengrl at 8:48 AM on November 18, 2002 too... me too...

I sense a SubChurch of the MeFites growing. If we all band together, what could we get out of this? Tax free retreats in the country?
*...angle...must find angle...*
posted by Shane at 8:52 AM on November 18, 2002


posted by Frasermoo at 9:00 AM on November 18, 2002

Rev. Dr. MoonPie since 1999. My brother was married by a ULC minister, pre-internet. Got his credientials by answering an ad in the back of the Rolling Stone, just like Norm. No kiddin'.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:00 AM on November 18, 2002

Wow, I didn't know they were still around! My mom got ordained like 20 years ago or something. I thought she was just a crackpot! Now, I can be a crackpot too! Yay!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:09 AM on November 18, 2002

Free Ordination
Free Absolution
Huge Resource
Weekly Sermons
Ministerial Training
& Much, Much More !

This was at the top of the site. So it stats off like any other religion, free to join or in this case free ordination, then progresses. & Much, Much More becomes $Much, $$Much More...

PS, can't wait to add this to my blog, Rev. Thomcatspike.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:09 AM on November 18, 2002

Join the First Church of Satan Today! You get one of these! Yay, Satan!
posted by Modem Ovary at 9:10 AM on November 18, 2002

Also, I am qualified to perform marriages in both the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. I have already performed 5 weddings.

Where do you find out in which states this is legal?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:11 AM on November 18, 2002

an internet staple, and a regular advertiser in magazines for several decades before that. cool site of the day back in 1995 or something. what's next for mefi, a church website in the midwest that hates practicioners of non-traditional same-gender sex?
posted by quonsar at 9:28 AM on November 18, 2002

Thomcatspike -- It's legal in all fifty states, I believe. The information on the Supreme Court case was on their site, but I can't find it since they redesigned it.
posted by greengrl at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2002

I for one hail the coming of our new overlord, Reverend Carlos. When I get married for the third time I'll call Reverend Carlos (who will by then be a Saint) to perform the ritual. Will there be any sacrafice involved?

Not sure what ULC believes in but since it's only a belief and of no real importance it doesn't matter.
posted by MaddCutty at 10:00 AM on November 18, 2002

Reverend Davis here, since Feb. 15, 2001. My credentials are also hanging on the wall of my office, and outgoing calls from my phone identify me as "Reverend", thanks to a phone guy with an odd sense of humor.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:04 AM on November 18, 2002

I'd sign up for the heck of it, but I don't really need to; I'm already ordained in the LDS church.
posted by oissubke at 10:11 AM on November 18, 2002

Sorry to cast a shadow here, but what's so new about this? This stuff has been around forever. C'mon Carlos, get with it.
posted by damclean2 at 10:14 AM on November 18, 2002

We were married by a ...minister? ...pastor? ...clergymember, I guess, of the Universal Life Church longer ago than I care to admit. Seems to have worked.
posted by sageleaf at 10:15 AM on November 18, 2002

You will receive a few email messages from us over time with wonderful gifts, special "members only" discounts, important news and thoughts on how you too can increase your own abundance. By clicking the SUBMIT button on one of the next pages, you agree to receive a few email messages from the ULC Monastery

Will there be an affiliate program to help sell indulgences and the like? Cause I think there's a market for those, and I want in!
posted by Salmonberry at 10:19 AM on November 18, 2002

The hubby and I became ULC ministers in '93. Between the two of us, we have performed 5 marriages, only one of which has tanked.

I still carry my little laminated ID card in my wallet. For emergencies, you know. And because I am a geek.
posted by whatnot at 10:21 AM on November 18, 2002

I would love to see the document that reads Reverend Fishfucker.
posted by adampsyche at 10:21 AM on November 18, 2002

A good friend of mine is also a ULC minister, and has performed several marriages. Hilarity/tragedy ensued when he tried to perform a bris.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:23 AM on November 18, 2002

COBRA! Your friend needn't struggle with his conscience. I'm pretty sure the main tenent of the ULC is that there are no tenents. In their words "The ULC believes that EVERYONE has the right to practice what they believe as long as they follow one simple rule: DO ONLY THAT WHICH IS RIGHT."

thomcatspike In order to be 'legal' you must follow the rules of your locality, which range in complexity. In my state you simply have to record a form with the county stating that you're part of an active church. Since you're allowed to ordain whomever you please, I ordained a friend and held the first meeting of the Church of Internet Design.

I've been ordained for several years and have absolutely no religious affilliation. I've performed a couple of marriages and like it when my friends call me 'The Rev'.
posted by maniactown at 10:26 AM on November 18, 2002

I am a full-blown Saint in the ULC, believe it or not -- and no, that isn't one of those crazy titles you can buy. As it turns out, Sainting people is the ULC's approach to P.R. I was writing a story on 'em and they made me a Saint in return.
posted by ph00dz at 10:30 AM on November 18, 2002

Reverend since 2001, when I officiated a friend's wedding. I had no crisis of conscience about becoming ordained in such a loose church, as its philosophies were pretty much my philosophies on religion. However, when I called up the ULC to order the design-your-own-wedding guide, I got to talk with Brother Bob, who told me various ways to piss off any uptight members of the congregation. Though his suggestions were entertaining, especially the "whispered ceremony," it didn't exactly make me swell up with pride that my new religion's advocate set out to piss off the congregation. I take my spirituality pretty seriously, and even though ULC is looked at as an "internet church," I think it has the possibility of being much more in capable hands. Any other ministers that take their ULC ordainment too seriously?

By the way, I'm available for any wedding, baptism, funeral, or pet blessing.
posted by daedsiluap at 10:30 AM on November 18, 2002

i considered it, but they wouldn't have me. said i was too "radical".

and then i was all : "LIKE DUH!"
posted by fishfucker at 10:31 AM on November 18, 2002

Question: would there be tax benefits to becoming a ULC minister? In Canada?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 AM on November 18, 2002

I know this is going to be very luddite of me, especially in this space, but it is far more rewarding to deal with the Mother Church in Modesto than the "ULC Monastery". Going the oldschool route gets you a nice instructional booklet and a certificate-quality ordination certificate.

They can be reached at:

Universal Life Church
601 3rd Street
Modesto, CA 95351

Under the ULC, anyone may ordain another (there, you're all ordained, so sayeth Cardinal Lawless) and that's exactly what the good folks at the Monastery have done.

I recently had to apply for a license to perform a marriage in the state of Nevada and needed documentation that could only be provided by the ULC Modesto proper -- not entirely sure that I would have gotten the same support elsewhere.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:35 AM on November 18, 2002

> even though ULC is looked at as an "internet church," I
> think it has the possibility of being much more in capable
> hands.

You mean like it could be the next Scientology?
posted by jfuller at 11:43 AM on November 18, 2002

When I was in college at UCSD, I hit upon the idea of signing up with these cats, so I could play a prank on people -- finding two drunks at a party, then "marrying" them as a joke... fun for all, especially after they got the marriage cert in the mail a few weeks later.

Decided that there would most likely be jail time and/or heavy fines involved though, so I demurred.
posted by badzen at 12:09 PM on November 18, 2002

maniactown, how can you have a Church of Internet Design and then not have a website? Even google draws a blank.
posted by billsaysthis at 12:42 PM on November 18, 2002

Makes me all spiritual. And mindful of Rev. Tribiani.
posted by dhartung at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2002

I wondered if the character Jim from Taxi also received his credentials here. As I work with a guy who did this back in the 70's.

PS, thank you maniactown & greengrl.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:04 PM on November 18, 2002

The power to perform marriages is pretty lightly granted. In some states, one need only be a Notary Public.

Such is the case in Maine, where my wife and I were married by a friend who was a notary in 1986. My mother-in-law performed at least one marriage that I know of during her stint as a notary. And I myself performed a legally-binding (if spiritually non-binding) marriage in 1995.

On that evening, a co-worker and his girlfriend, who were planning a "real" wedding a few months later, wanted to address some sticky issues with his status as a Canadian residing in the U.S. A bunch of us gathered at another co-worker's apartment -- the host played "Here Comes The Bride" on his sax, and the bride carried a bouquet that was a novelty lamp that looked like a bunch of flowers. There was much wine and much laughter until I started talking, and then I saw this look cross their faces as they realized "Holy crap, this is for real".
posted by briank at 1:23 PM on November 18, 2002

Sorry, that I didn't reply sooner, thomcatspike, but yes, you are legal to perform marriages in all 50 states. You must only abide by the laws of the state in which you wish to perform. In the two states that I have performed marriages, all that was required was to take my credentials to the County Clerks' offices and allow them to make a photocopy and give them $5.

I too am available for all of your ritualistic needs.
posted by St Seneca at 1:44 PM on November 18, 2002

The missus and I were ordained back in '93, before everyone had a website, which meant we had to wait a whole week for all our documents to come in the mail. I feel so old school. And even though I hardly ever remember that I am a minister, it has come in handy on occasion. (And I mean for officiating at weddings, not for mooching free bus rides.) I've honestly enjoyed my association with ULC. I haven't received any mail - electronic or otherwise - from them since I was ordained nearly ten years ago. It really is hassle-free, and kinda fun to boot.
posted by michaelbrown at 1:55 PM on November 18, 2002

I've been Rev. Mother Lynsey since 1997 and have 2 weddings to my credit so far, both of which are still working unions. W00t! Blessings upon each and every one of you.
posted by Lynsey at 2:01 PM on November 18, 2002

briank: I believe the only two states that allow notarys to perform marriage ceremonies are Maine and South Carolina. I'm a notary and a ULC reverend; I suppose I can offer weddings of both the religious and civil variety.
posted by reverendX at 2:03 PM on November 18, 2002

Both da wife and I were ordained in ... jeeze 96? It was probably one of the first things I ever "signed up" for on the internet.

Stll have my certificate somewhere.

We are both Pagan, and wanted to have our HighPriestess marry/handfast us. The ULC provided a convient way to do that legally... I ordained her, she went to the NY register in the county we got married in, registered herself, and we were married outside under the sun, in a park in Rockland... 6 yrs ago or so.
posted by niteHawk at 2:07 PM on November 18, 2002

link to original website here.
posted by pekar wood at 2:21 PM on November 18, 2002

OK, OK, ha ha. ULC credentials are funny, as are some of the people who have them, and WHY they have them. I slogged through eight years of seminary to earn my legit degrees and become ordained, and my Jewish friend then did the ULC thing to get me a "certificate of ordination" as a rabbi. Yuk yuk! ;-)

But, now for the real nails-on-chalkboard situation here: whether you are ordained through ULC or a real church, you can never, and will never, be "a reverend." "Reverend" is an adjective, not a noun, in spite of all the homey, Andy Griffith-esque use it gets. You become "the Reverend John Smith," and people may call you pastor/father/etc., but "Reverend" is not among the nouns you can use to address an ordained person.

Analogy: the proper address for a judge is "The Honorable John Smith," while the proper address for an ordained member of the clergy is "The Reverend John Smith." It would never, ever occur to you to address the judge as "Honorable," or "Honorable Smith," and it is just as wrong to address the preacher as "Reverend," or "Reverend Smith."

Please make a note of it.
posted by wdpeck at 2:40 PM on November 18, 2002

so, spill about the tax you pay?
posted by amberglow at 2:46 PM on November 18, 2002

wdpeck: this says "reverend: n. Informal. A cleric or minister. Used with the."

Amusingly, I know some called Andy Griffith who has become a ULC minister.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:30 PM on November 18, 2002

I hope the ULC dating opportunities are superior to those pursued by the Catholic clergy.
posted by rushmc at 5:29 PM on November 18, 2002

...[I] like it when my friends call me 'The Rev'.

Where I come from, we call this guy the Rev. I hear he really is a "Rev," too, so he's probably a member of the ULC.

...the bride carried a bouquet that was a novelty lamp that looked like a bunch of flowers.

Was the lamp plugged in and lit, 'cuz... that'd be really cool...

Speaking of Rev's, I just bumbled into this (scroll down): Rev Billy, Malachy McCourt and Kurt Vonnegut on stage together on 9/11 2002. I haven't viewed it yet, though, and it'll take me all night to download...
posted by Shane at 5:35 PM on November 18, 2002

Been ordained for a while, under my real name. Holiness level holding steady.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:42 PM on November 18, 2002

I'm a priest. Woo yay. Houpla.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:35 PM on November 18, 2002

THANK you, wdpeck. This is one of my biggest pet usage peeves. "Reverend" means "revered" and is thus an adjective. You shouldn't address a priest/pastor/whatever as "Hello, Reverend"'s like saying "Hello, Honorable."
posted by Vidiot at 7:13 PM on November 18, 2002

Reverend is also a noun. See Webster.
Function: noun
Date: 1608
: a member of the clergy -- sometimes used in plural as a title
posted by reverendX at 8:53 PM on November 18, 2002

We could go back and forth with this for quite a while. This seems to hinge on the age-old lexicographers' question: to chronicle the language as it is used or to prescribe the language as it should be used?

Fowler and The Columbia Guide to Standard American English are in my court though. ;-)

I've just about given up on "nauseous", though.
posted by Vidiot at 9:22 PM on November 18, 2002

(I should note that it wasn't the incomparable H.W. Fowler himself that agreed with me in my link above; that link points to The New Fowler's English Usage, by Robert W. Burchfield.)
posted by Vidiot at 9:29 PM on November 18, 2002

(errr, make that The New Fowler's Modern English Usage. Apologies. Gotta get some sleep.)
posted by Vidiot at 9:31 PM on November 18, 2002

I did it for the parking.
posted by Dr. Boom at 9:40 PM on November 18, 2002

Been ordained for a while, under my real name. Holiness level holding steady.

That's about where I am. I was going to perform the wedding of some friends of mine, but at the last minute they called things off. Something about pictures of him with a young male prostitute. I never did get the whole story, and I think I'm the better for it. I did do a baby blessing/dedication kind of thing for my cousins' newborn, but that was highly informal. Anybody wanna get married? I work cheap. (Will perform weddings for hors d'oeuvres.)
posted by Dreama at 11:32 PM on November 18, 2002

also, previously discussed here.
posted by modge at 8:31 AM on November 19, 2002

Usage precedent aside, if "reverend" equates to "revered," then it is entirely appropriate to refer to someone as "reverend," because while you would not say "Bring out the honorable" or "Bring out the reverential," you would say "bring out the honored" or "bring out the reverend," just as one might say "bring out the deceased," or, as Monty Python might say, "bring out your dead."

It's a tense situation.
posted by NortonDC at 11:36 AM on November 19, 2002

Been a minister since 1998 myself.... Wife hates it when I make her say things like "Hand me the remote, Reverend Sean..."
posted by Samizdata at 9:35 PM on November 19, 2002

Probably nobody reading this now, but...I've been ordained since 95/96 or so. A little before NiteHawk (as i was the one who shoed him the site).

Have performed 3 marriages, one of them Legal (2 gay, 1 hetero) all still together.

I have also done child blessings and one funeral.

wdpek, if seminary was available for pagans, I would have gone. But, I've been a practicing pagan for about 14 years now and have been formally trained an initiated in several traditions. So, I feel I'm qualified to wear the legal badge or Minister.
posted by lasthrsman at 9:18 PM on November 20, 2002

"Reverend" means "revered" and is thus an adjective.

It's listed as an adjective and a noun in the OED. Definitive enough?
posted by walrus at 6:53 AM on November 21, 2002

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