Yes. As an
independent church with thousands of members around the world, The First International
Church Of The Web has the same legal rights as any other
church. This includes the right to legally ordain
ministers, to issue independent church charters, and other legally recognized church activities.
2. That sounds good, but
what is the legal basis of this?
In 1974, the United
States government was sued by the Universal Life Church in response to the government's
challenge to their right to have a tax-exempt status. When
the judge ruled on this case, he also addressed the
question of mail-order ordination, independent church
charters, etc. While
the Universal Life Church is not really a Christian
ministry, nevertheless they performed a great service to
all non-traditional ministries by fighting this case in
court and eventually winning.
The following is excerpted from the court's decision in
this case. The Universal Life Church is referred to as
"...an Honorary Doctor of Divinity is a
strictly religious title with no academic standing. Such
titles may be issued by bona fide churches and religious
denominations, such as plaintiff, as long as their issuance
is limited to a course of instruction in the principles of
the church or religious denomination... The statute is
silent as to recognized honorary titles conferred for some
The court then addressed
the issue of whether the ordination of ministers, granting
of church charters, and the issuance of Honorary Doctor of
Divinity certificates are substantial activities which do
not further any religious purpose. The following is
excerpted from the court's decision:
ordination of ministers and the chartering of churches are
accepted activities of religious organizations... The fact
that the plaintiff distributed ministers' credentials and
Honorary Doctor of Divinity certificates is of no moment.
Such activity may be analogized to mass conversions at a
typical revival or religious crusade."
Now here is
the real meat of the court's decision, and the part that
guarantees the legality of your ordination:
this Court, nor any branch of this Government, will
consider the merits or fallacies of a religion. Nor will
the Court compare the beliefs, dogmas, and practices of a
newly organized religion with those of an older, more
established religion. Nor will the Court praise or condemn
a religion, however excellent or fanatical or preposterous
it may seem. WERE THE COURT TO DO SO, IT WOULD IMPINGE UPON
THE GUARANTEES OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT."
So you can
see, your ordination is completely legal and every bit as
respectable as an ordination from any other church. If
you'd like to read the complete case decision, it's filed
in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California,
Civil No. S-1954.
3. If that's true, why doesn't this ministry issue Dr. of Divinity degrees?
Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degrees are available from our Educational Outreach
Ministry, Saint Luke Evangelical School Of Biblical Studies.
4. How is an ordination from The First International Church Of The Web different from an ordination from the Universal Life Church, World Christianship Ministries, or other mail-order ordination services?
That's a good question. Since there are differences in the two, let me first address the ULC, then World Christianship Ministries and others.
First, it is important to recognize that the Universal Life Church, while it is a church, is not really a Christian church. Their only doctrine of belief is that one should "do what is right", and they make no definitive statement of what is right, but leave that up to each individual member. The ULC openly and as a matter of policy embraces all belief systems, even atheism. See, even an atheist can be ordained by the Universal Life Church. These are all openly stated policies of the ULC. If you are a Christian who has been ordained by ULC, you are especially encouraged to join our church and receive a truly Christian ordination.
World Christianship Ministries, as well as United Faith Ministries, and others like them, are what is known as "Ordination Ministries", and are sometimes referred to as "mail-order ordination services". As such, they provide a service and fill a need, and it is not my intention to claim otherwise or in any way defame them. However, they are not churches. They don't have a church membership, beyond their own records of ordination, or certain "associations" of clergy, membership to which they charge a fee. In all fairness, they don't claim to be churches. They are, in fact, exactly what they say they are, "Ordination Ministries".
The First International Church Of The Web, on the other hand, is a Christian church, based on the Bible and its teachings, and committed to spreading the Gospel of Christ. We have an active membership of thousands of Christians around the world. Membership in our church is free, as are our ordinations.
In addition, The First International Church Of The Web is itself a ministry of
our parent ministry, Saint Luke Evangelical Christian Ministries,
an emerging church fellowship located in Hephzibah, Georgia, and your
ordination has the full backing of Saint Luke's. So, when you've been ordained by The First International Church Of The Web, you can rest assured that your ordination is from an
established, Christ-centered church. That is what makes our ordination different from those offered by the Universal Life Church, World Christianship Ministries, and other "Ordination Ministries".
5. Okay, but I haven't donated any
money, or gotten a Certificate of Ordination, or anything
like that. I received a free ordination, and all I have is
an e-mail letter. Is this legally recognized?
e-mail is a legal document. Of course, you should print or
save the e-mail letter of ordination for your own records.
Also, many of our clergy do like to have the
Certificate of Ordination and laminated wallet sized card. If you're planning to
perform marriages, you are, however, advised against trying to register with the
authorities using only the e-mail letter of ordination, simply because there are
some people who aren't aware of the legality of online ordination, and they may
refuse to accept the e-mail letter of ordination. If you're going to be
registering to perform marriages, you should at the very least order a Letter of
Ordination on Church Letterhead and embossed with the seal of incorporation of
our church. For more information about these and other materials available to our members, including specially designed Ordination rings available exclusively to our ministers, you can visit our Ordained Clergy Credentials Catalogue Page by clicking here.
6. Okay, I've
been ordained, and I'm ready to start a ministry or church.
How do I get an Independent Church Charter? What's that
Church Charters are available for order from our catalog page for a very small contribution. When ordering, please include a URL to your church's web site or some other means for this ministry to verify that you're chartering a Christian ministry. This ministry will not knowingly issue a charter to a non-Christian ministry.
You just need to check with your local
County Clerk's Office and get details on things like filing
the marriage license, ages of consent, blood test
requirements, etc. They'll be happy to give you all the
details and necessary forms. While you're there, ask them
to show you how to fill out the license, so you can be sure
you do everything correctly. Other things to check on are
whether you need to file a copy of your ordination
credentials before doing weddings, whether you need a
license from the state or county to do weddings, how many
days before you must return the marriage license to the
county, which office to file the license with, and are
there any other requirements before you can perform
weddings. Again, you're advised against trying to register using only your
e-mail letter of ordination. Be prepared to show your Certificate of Ordination,
or, at the very least, the Letter of Ordination on Church Letterhead, both
available on our catalog page at http://www.ficotw.org/catalog.htm.
Finally, Nevada, Oregon, and New York City
all have laws that may require you to have a formally
recognized church with a congregation before being allowed
to do weddings. This may require you to incorporate your
ministry in Oregon and Nevada.
We also have a great many members and ministers located in Canada, and that country has particularly restrictive laws regarding who may register to perform marriages. But even in Canada your ordination is acceptable for all other regular duties of any member of the clergy.
Rev.Dr. Lance Micklus has
created an excellent resource page on having a marriage ministry.
It includes information on counseling couples, and gives detailed
instructions on performing several types of marriage ceremonies.
To visit this marriage ministry page, Click Here.
8. I'm glad I got
ordained, but some of the people I tell about it don't seem
to take it seriously. What should I do?
As an ordained Christian minister, it's up to you to make the most of
it. If you minister to others, show Christian love in all
your actions, start a church or ministry, and otherwise
demonstrate your calling as a Christian minister, who can
argue with your ordination? Look at it this way - do people
respect the Rev. Billy Graham because he carries around a
document that says he's ordained? No, of course not! They
respect him because he is obviously a man who has committed
himself to serving Our Lord. If you are also committed to
service and ministry, you'll be respected as a minister, no
matter where your ordination came from.
an ordained minister has changed my life, and I'd like to
help support the ministry that ordained me. How can I
contribute to The First International Church Of The
Any assistance to this ministry is greatly
appreciated, and will help keep the ministry afloat and
active. Contributions can be sent to Rev. David M. Ford at:
Rev. David M. Ford
4319 Wilson Rd.
Hephzibah, GA 30815
or visit our Catalog page at the link provided above to support our ministry through purchasing any of the materials offered there.
For your convenience, you may also make a contribution to this ministry using your credit card by clicking on the donation button below.
Another great way to help support our church is to participate in our Dollar-A-Day Church Support Ministry.
10. What exactly is the "Dollar-A-Day Church Support Ministry" program?
The Dollar-A-Day Church Support Ministry is a program so those members truly committed to the continued growth and prosperity of our church can support our church in the amount of one dollar a day. This is a wonderful ministry for any of our ordained clergy to participate in. For more information, Click Here.
11. Where can I find information on how to perform a
marriage, baptism, or other rites and services?
local Christian book store is a great place to start. Most
have a selection of books for clergy covering marriages,
baptisms, funerals, writing sermons, etc. They are also
good sources for blank marriage and baptism certificates,
and even clerical clothing. For a selection of ministerial handbooks, manuals, and other resources recommended by Brother Dave, visit the First International Church Of The Web Book Store.
12. Do I have to wear
clerical clothing while performing marriages or other
No, that's completely optional. A nice suit
and tie if you're a man, or dress or gown if you're a woman, should be acceptable for almost any
occasion. In some instances, the couple being married may actually prefer an informal ceremony and request that you "dress down". You should attire yourself according to the wishes of the couple being married.
13. I've been ordained, but I'm not sure
what sort of ministry I should start. Any
This is something that you can only
answer after much prayer. You may even try several
different types of ministries before you find the right one
for you. Our Lord and His Holy Spirit is your best guide
when starting any ministry. Again, an excellent ministry for any of our ordained clergy to participate in is our Dollar-A-Day Church Support Ministry.
14. Different types of
ministries? What do you mean?
There are many
different types of ministries. Here are a few examples:
marriage ministry, bible ministry, chaplain, Christian
relief ministry, church minister or pastor, evangelist,
street ministry, tract ministry, film ministry, home
fellowship ministry, hospital or nursing home ministry,
prison ministry, home visitation ministry, informational
ministry, missionary work, music ministry, one on one
ministry, radio and T.V. ministry, rescue mission ministry,
or you may even want to start a ministry on the
I hope this FAQ has helped you with your ordination and new ministry. God bless you.
© 1997-2007 Rev. David M. Ford