We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I Become an Ordained Minister?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An ordained minister is one who has been consecrated to carry out the ceremonies and rights of their religious denomination. In the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches, to become an ordained minister is to become a priest, bishop, or deacon. In other religions, ordained ministers are associated with different titles. In Buddhism, one can even be ordained posthumously. While different religions vary in their processes of ordination, the majority still share the common theology that prohibits women from this role. Exceptions include such churches as The United Church of Canada, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, The Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church, and various denominations of Judaism.

Individuals who are in the process of becoming ordained are sometimes referred to as “ordinands,” while the ordination rituals or liturgy are referred to as an “ordinal.” Before the age of the Internet, studying at a seminary was most often required in order to become an ordained minister of any religion. Today, one can quickly get ordained via various websites, which offer ordination for a fee. For example, the nondenominational Universal Life Church (ULC) of Modesto, California sells ordinations among other products, and allows an individual to become an ordained relatively inexpensively.

Although the efficiency of online ordination may be ethically questionable, someone who has become ordained online can legally administer weddings and sign marriage licenses, just like any other religious official. As long as the person is in good standing with his or her church, he or she is legally entitled to solemnize a marriage in most U.S. States.

There are some U.S. states that require more than just online ordainment from individuals who wish to perform religious ceremonies. States such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Delaware, Oklahoma, and Virginia require ordained ministers to provide the state with a copy of his or her credentials and/or address prior to performing weddings. Rhode Island, Nevada, and Ohio all license their state’s ministers, while the state of Tennessee's requirement for ordination to be a “considered, deliberate, and responsible act” might implicitly restrict someone who has become an ordained minister online.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By stl156 — On May 18, 2012
I do not know what to think of the online ordained sites. To me they have pros and cons and to be honest I think that the Universal Life Church does have a legitimate message they try to send.

They do not charge for people to become ordained, but they rather allow them the option to contribute money, if they want to have a hard copy of their certification, otherwise it will just be in their database where it can easily be looked up.

I work at a court house and is incredibly rare for someone to complain and call out the person asking what their certification is. So in reality the Universal Life Church does make money, but most people do not need to buy the certificate, so it is not a very lucrative enterprise which shows they are not out for money.

This is what I know about this particular church and I would like to know more about other types of ordained minister sites that one could look up, so people can talked about and critique them.

By jmc88 — On May 17, 2012

@kentuckycat - Your opinions and beliefs may be valid, but keep in mind that religion is very complicated and basically anyone can preach what they feel is right at any time.

This type of certification allows someone to have a self discovery approach to their teaching as well as allow them the chance to preach their own view of religion, or lack there of to a group of people that want to follow them.

Now these people are rare and in reality, the online ordained minister sites offer it because of the marriage aspect.

I know several people that have done it just because they only trusted a family member to perform the ceremonies and were not too religious minded to begin with.

I personally did it because of a friend having a quickie wedding as her fiancee was unexpectedly going to be shipped off to Iraq in the next week and they could not organize everything so quick.

By kentuckycat — On May 16, 2012

@titans62 - I agree that this was odd. To be honest I feel like these types of sites are an insult to people who have put years and years into their profession.

I guess it is OK if someone is doing it for a reason such as to perform the marriage ceremonies, which would not really be for a profit, but I know that there are people that actually make a living preaching because of certification that they did not pay for or even go through any training for online.

I really wish that they would look into sites, such as these and see which ones are scams and which ones are ones that are actually looking to offer a service to people and I wish states would reform their laws surrounding people that get their certification this way.

By titans62 — On May 16, 2012
I will say I did not think that there was any possible way that someone could become an ordained minister online. To be honest it may seem a bit sacrilegious if someone were just to do this as a joke, but I will say it does come in handy if someone needed to perform the ceremonies to officially marry someone.

I will say when I did it, it was literally just a point a click ordeal, and the only thing I had to pay for was the certificate, if I just wanted to have a hard copy in my files.

I found this to be almost too good to be true so I called the courthouse and asked them and they said it was legal in Illinois and that it was really not a big deal and if by some chance someone were to question the validity of the ceremony I could simply show them the certificate or contact the organization I was ordained for.

By anon254288 — On Mar 12, 2012

Maybe you can assist me.

I have been a licensed Local Pastor in the United Methodist Church for 28 years, and now that I am retiring I am not permitted to perform the Sacraments of the Church. I obtained my M.DIV at Drew University in 1994.

Is there information that you can provide me on how I could be ordained an ELCA. What would the process be?

Warren B.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.