During 1959, Kirby Hensley founded the Universal Life Church, in the city of Modesto, CA. It was established on the foundation of Kirby’s belief that religion should be free, and that that freedom has to be asserted in order to be protected. Kirby promised to ordain all who asked, free of charge, no questions asked.
Jealous clergy and priests of more well-known or mainstream religions (which Kirby referred to as the “Big Dog” churches) asserted that a clergy-member must endure years of seminary training and be approved by a committee, adhere to doctrinal standards, and additional such requirements. Of course, those same people had no answer when it had been brought to their attention that Peter and Paul as well as the rest of the disciples had no seminary training. Approval or traditional training take on less importance when you look at the long litany of abuse committed by so many ‘approved’ or ‘trained’ priests. Sorry to say that, many good individuals have been discouraged from going after their ministry by just such obstacles. Many other churches still exclude women from the pulpit, even in the 21st century!
According to Kirby, any real person should be able to get ordained with out having to dance to anyone else’s tune, and so he set out to establish a church that would enable this. Fairly rapidly, the Universal Life Church, as it became known throughout the world, has evolved and grown in popularity and size. The church has become well-known and established throughout the years, enough that many well-known proudly proclaim their membership, as well as having the Universal Life Church be used as part of the plot on numerous tv shows. Whenever people mention the Universal Life Church, it is the original Modesto headquarters that folks are talking of.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, that degree of notoriety continues to attract multiple con artists who use the good name of the church to try and line their own pockets. Employing the methods of those who would sell phony Rolex watches (calling them ‘Romex’ or the like), these rip-off artists created spin-offs making use of the title of ULC, but adding things like ‘network’ or ‘monastery’ to misdirect folks. Kirby, having not imagined such dishonesty or the simplicity with which such deceptions would be perpetuated throughout the internet, never tried to trademark the name ‘Universal Life Church’, and even encouraged the various congregations of the church to use the name. That left the field wide open for deceptions, and over the internet today, such falsehoods are happening in rapidly growing numbers.
Employing UPS maildrops or operating out of trailer parks (which can be confirmed using google maps), these fakers not only are claiming they belong to the ULC, but that they ARE the original Universal Life Church. Making use of all manner of tricks and word games to get a bit of Google-love, some have even managed to climb well up in the search engine listings, which have resulted in tons of ministers who assume they have been ordained by the Universal Life Church of Modesto, but who had been really inadvertently associating with one of these dishonest groups.
By creating a whole new definition of ‘truth’, these groups created sites as well as blogs and such, twisting the facts in some cases, spouting flat-out lies in others. For example, they tell new ministers that they HAVE TO purchase credentials in order to be legally ordained. While it is correct that a handful of states do require the minister to register with the state in order to officiate weddings, most states do not have such a requirement. It’s certainly not necessary for anything except for conducting a wedding. Genuine ULC sites know this and would never pressure you to order anything. More than that, real ULC sites give a good deal of information away at no cost.
1 scammer urges ministers to buy “Letters of Good Standing”, suggesting that they are necessary in order to perform marriages and perform other functions of the referends. The number of states that require the letter is very small and Modesto will send the letters free of cost. The only exceptions are for the couple of states that require a notarized letter – there is then a fee for the notary.
The ULC has 2 ‘official’ web sites. Established in 1997, ulc.net is the oldest active authorized website for the ULC. It offers an online application for ordination, an active forum, a directory of ministers and congregations (listing with the directory is optional), a reading library, support desk, prayer request page and an online bookstore where ministers are able to find ceremony books and additional items to assist them in their ministry. If you want to confess online, there’s 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 is another respected site and also provides various items of interest to ULC ministers, and has been affiliated with the real church in Modesto It’s a well-established and respected site. With both the Bookstore and the Seminary, the advice is free and they are there to answer their phones and offer support.
Be cautious of any othe sites. There are plenty of honest sites out there, created by upstanding ULC ministers, but anyone claiming they ARE the ‘real’ Universal Life Church, or claiming to be the only Christian one or any site you get a bad negative gut reaction from, don’t be led astray. If it did happen that you inadvertently went to 1 of the other sites, be forgiving of yourself over it. You are far from the first they have deceived and they make it their business to do it.
You do not need to take my word for it, the records speak for themselves. Check the corporate records for any church which claims to BE the Universal Life Church. You can do that by looking at the Secretary of State for the state in which they are located. If you take a look at the records in CA, you’ll find that the original Universal Life Church became incorporated during 1962 as being a non-profit. (While they did open in 1959, Kirby didn’t incorporate until 1962.) Others, in they event records for them exist at all in the official state records, will show they only started operations just a few years ago. to be legally ordained, run away fast with both hands holding tight to your pocketbook!
The Universal Life Church has opened the way for millions to become ordained and to follow their dreams and are pleased that so many other churches have taken up the torch to assure that same freedom. Hundreds of churches today began to model their ordination processes after the ULC, which has been outstanding to see. The honest churches establish a unique name for themselves and make an effort to distinguish their ministry and mission in other ways as well. Other people, who don’t believe in the idea of doing that which is right, will simply take the well-known name and distort it for their own means, knowing that most individuals won’t check into the difference – At least not until it is too late, and they have been separated from their money!
Please do your homework. Seek ordination from a reputable source and find a site that gives you a good feeling to visit it.
Kevin Andrews invites individuals to become a minister through his authorized ULC website. Amy Long also runs a legitimate Universal Life Church site, which is affiliated with ULC Headquarters in Modesto, CA.
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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