The Universal Life Church was founded in 1959, in the town of Modesto, CA by Kirby Hensley. Kirby believed strongly in the freedom of religion and that to be protected, this freedom has got to be exercised. From the start, there had been narrow-minded people who bristled at Kirby’s promise to ordain any real person who asked, without charge, with out training, or without any questions asked or cash exchanging hands.
Jealous clergy and priests of much more established or traditional religions (which Kirby named the “Big Dog” churches) claimed that the minister must have years of seminary training and be approved by a committee, adhere to doctrinal standards, and other such requirements.
Naturally, they had no response after it had been pointed out that Peter and Paul as well as the rest of the disciples received no seminary training. Approval or traditional training take on less importance when you come to acquaint yourself with the long list of abuse committed by so many ‘approved’ or ‘trained’ priests. Due to these types of headlines, many very warm-hearted individuals have hesitated to go after their calling. Many other churches still exclude women from the pulpit, even in the 21st century!
Becoming ordained ought to be a personal decision, between you and The Supreme Being (or just you and yourself), so Kirby established the Universal Life Church to make this happen. His church was known worldwide as the Universal Life Church (ULC) and quickly grew in popularity and membership. Today, the church has become well known, and many celebrities have even proudly announced that they are reverends of the ULC. Whenever folks think of the Universal Life Church, it is the church headquartered in Modesto which they’re thinking about.
Unfortunately, that notoriety and acclaim inevitably drew the attention of scam artists and other people who would look to line their pockets by ’borrowing’ the well-established name of the church. Like the scammers who sell counterfeit Rolex watches under the name “Romex”, these charlatans created spin-offs with similar- sounding names, a few of them even utilizing the name of the original church, but adding something like “network” or “monastery”. Kirby, having not considered such chicanery or the ease with which such lies would be perpetrated on the internet, never tried to trademark the name ‘Universal Life Church’, and even suggested to the various congregations from the church to use the name. That left the field wide open for deceptions, and on the internet today, such falsehoods are happening in rapidly growing numbers.
Recently, a few of these spin-offs have had the audacity to proclaim that not only are they connected to the ULC, but that they ARE the original or real ULC. One even claimed that Kirby Hensley had sold him the ULC in 1964, when that person was only 4 years old! Making use of all types of tricks and word games to garner a bit of Google-love, some have even managed to climb well up in the search engine listings, which has resulted in tons of people who think they have been ordained by the Universal Life Church of Modesto, but who had been really dealing with 1 of these unscrupulous groups.
By creating a whole new definition of ‘truth’, these groups created sites and blogs and such, twisting the facts in some cases, spouting flat-out lies in others. One such lie told is that ministers must buy credentials to be legal. While it is correct that a handful of states do require the minister to register with the state in order to officiate marriages, the majority of states do not have such a requirement. It’s certainly not required for anything other than performing a wedding. Genuine ULC sites know this and wouldn’t dream of pressuring you to purchase anything. More than that, good ULC sites share a lot of stuff away at no cost.
One particularly offensive scammer pushes ministers to purchase “Letters of Good Standing”, suggesting that the letters are required by law in order to perform marriages and perform additional functions of the ministers. The number of states that require a letter is very small and Modesto will send the letters free of charge. The only exceptions are for the couple of states that require the notarized letter – there is then a fee for the notary.
The ULC has 2 ‘official’ web sites. ULC.net is the oldest active web site of the church, established in 1997. It provides an online application for ordination, an active forum, a directory of ministers and congregations (listing in the directory is optional), a reading library, support desk, prayer request page and an online bookstore in which ministers are able to find ceremony books and additional items to help them in their ministry. Should you wish to confess online, there is a place to do that. The other official site is that of the administrative headquarters office, which continues to be located in Modesto, California. It can be found at ulchq.com. The ULC Seminary, also affiliated with Modesto, provides a huge assortment of online seminary training courses, free weekly emails of several kinds, and a lot of free training It’s a well-established and respected site. Both the Seminary and the Bookstore provide outstanding minister support and guidance for both new and experienced ministers.
Take caution with any of the other sites who claim to be ULC. You will find a lot of honest sites out there, created by upstanding ULC ministers, but anyone claiming they ARE the ‘real’ Universal Life Church, or claiming they are the only Christian 1 or any site you get a bad feeling from, don’t be led astray. If you are though, don’t be disappointed. Many other people have also been fooled before you, and it is painfully easy to have it happen to you.
You don’t have to take my word for it, the records speak for themselves. Check the corporate records for any ULC which claims to BE the Universal Life Church. You can do this by looking at the Secretary of State for the state in which they’re located. You’ll easily find that the real Universal Life Church became incorporated during 1962, as a non-profit in the city of Modesto, CA. (The ULC began during 1959, but didn’t incorporate until 1962.) Other sites, in they event records for them exist at all in the legal state records, will show the others only started operations only a few years ago. to be considered legally ordained, run away quickly with both hands holding tight to your pocketbook!
The Universal Life Church, has been a pioneer in assuring that religion remains free and available to all who ask. Hundreds of churches today have modeled their ordination processes after the ULC, which has been great to see. Genuine ULC Churches support the ideal of doing that which is right, and will clearly and honestly state their intentions and mission as well as doing what they can to set themselves apart. Others, who don’t subscribe to the idea of doing that which is right, will simply take the well-known name and distort it for their own means, knowing that many folks won’t check into the difference – That is, until their hard-earned cash is in the hands of a scam artist.
Please take the time to check the sites out. You matter and your ordination is important so please find an honest church who offers you more than a way to spend your cash.
The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have many classes in Christianity, one about Wicca, several forms of Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more.
You can become an ordained minister, for free, and for life, so use this Free Online Ordination, link.
This online seminary, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of minister supplies.
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