The Order of the Ordained
As some of you may know, I’m an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church. If I wanted to I could set up a ministry and begin preaching whatever good word I see fit 100% legally. Oh and there’s something in there about marriages and funerals too.
Thing is, not only am I ordained twice (I’ll get to that later, don’t forget), I have the option (for only $30 a year, oh joy) to join The Troth and begin training as a proper Heathen priest. I figured, under the circumstances, and since this is my blog, I might as well tell my story.
First thing’s first. I’d like you to understand that I had studied for eight years, give or take, before I decided to get ordained. However, this isn’t necessary with the ULC (universal life church, in case you forgot), which primarily exists to ordain “ministers” to perform wedding ceremonies in states that require such things for marriages to be legal. However, you can’t just stamp a “weddings only” sticker on an ordination and call it good, so the ULC provides for their ministers to start their own churches (and preach their own gospel) so long as they follow the church’s tenet, “Do only that which is right.” That is to say, if you want to preach the glory of the “One God” that’s fine, just so long as you do only that which is right. If you want to preach the ways of the “Old Gods” that’s fine too, just so long as you do only that which is right. Got your own new, made up religion? That’s fine too! Just, you guessed it, only do that which is right!
There is, however, a problem with the ULC. Remember how I mentioned that I am ordained TWICE? (told you I’d be getting back to that) Well, you see when the ULC was created, the founder believed so much in the good in Man that he didn’t bother to trademark Universal Life Church. So, as word caught on of this church who was ordaining people for free, pretenders cropped up looking to make a quick buck off of the hopeful. As a result, there is some confusion online as to which is the “real” ULC.
So, when I first came across the ULC it was in the form of The Monastery. This is where I was first ordained. However I grew…curious about the quickness of my ordination. I received a confirmation email almost immediately when the site claimed it would take up to one business day. I applied on a saturday. So I did some research. In my research, I stumbled across The Seminary. Here I learned that The Monastery was an offshoot of the main ULC. I also discovered that there was doubt as to whether they were sending their ordination records to the mother church. Of course, I wanted to be sure, so I looked up the Official Home Page and applied for ordination there as well. This time it actually took the advertised (for lack of a better term) business day. I received my confirmation and was assured that I was now a Minister of the Universal Life Church in Modesto, California. If I need to verify my record (which I haven’t yet) I just have to call the office and they’ll look it up. Easy as that.
I still felt…uneasy, however. Sure, I was officially a clergyman, but it didn’t quite have the feeling I expected it to. Looking back, I don’t even know quite how I expected it to feel. But, it was fine for the time. I was an Eclectic Pagan, so there was no clergy that could teach me my path better than I could teach it myself.
Then, to put it in semi-christian terms, I found Odin. Suddenly I knew there were others out there that believed as I do. Not only that, but a full religious organization to which I could belong and be trained in. I read and studied more, (over two years more in fact) thinking to maybe someday go and find these others who believed as I do and ask them to teach me. In the book that I use as my main reference outside of meditation I found a passing reference to The Troth, but thought nothing of it.
That is, until last week. On a whim, I visited their website and found that, not only could I join it (for the aforementioned $30 a year), I could enroll in their clergy program. I admit, I was excited. And then, as I read their description there was the dreaded word, Ásatrú. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t identify with Ásatrú and probably never will. There are just too many differences between my beliefs and theirs. But still I felt this…itch. I wanted to belong to something.
I debated it internally for what seemed like hours before finally consulting a friend. After discussing it, at length, with her, I decided that The Troth wasn’t for me. I’d stick with my non-dues charging Universal Life Church and maybe someday find a group that believes as I do, or even found a church or tradition of my own.
I suppose, truth be told, this long drawn out story can be summed up rather simply. In fact, it was summed up before my little dilemma ever began. On July 5, 2012 on a webcomic I frequent, in fact. Maybe I should take advice from webcomics more often!
Hmmm…on second thought, maybe that’s not such a good idea.
NOTE: If you find a site claiming to be the ULC that I haven’t listed here that; claims to be a “christians only” branch, charges for ordinations, or pushes you to purchase “ordination credentials” (by pushes I mean urges and/or claims they’re required in every state) STAY AWAY. They are very likely to be fakes. When in doubt, use ulc.net or the HQ at ulchq.com. I will change this post if those websites change.