Lei's Wedding Blog
Need a Minister? Be Sure to Check Certifications and References
Link to Referenced Article:
Please Note: Links to outside sources may not always work.
Here’s the headline of the story on Wate.com that caught my attention:
East Tenn. chapel owner says she's certified by Internet Organization...
This is kind of scary. Evidently this woman, Brenda Gorst, who ran the Wedding Loft in Jonesborough, Tennessee, was charged in April with impersonating a certified minister. She claims she is licensed to perform weddings by an Internet religious group - World Christianship Ministries - and received certificates from the organization in 1992. According to this article, the process required no classes, but simply involved asking for certification.
I visited the Web site of the World Christianship Ministries (www.wcm.org) and it claims that their quickie ordination by mail is as valid and legal as any other religious denomination. The Web site also references a court ruling that seems to indicate that this is legal. Their Web site also states: “We have ordained clergy in every state of the USA, and in over 85 foreign countries. All over the world you find Christian ministers who received ordination by WCM.”
If this is legal, then maybe Brenda didn’t really get certified from the World Christianship Ministries – who knows!
What is scary to me is that if anyone can be ordained by mail, how do you know if they know what they are doing? Are they sincere and religious at all? I am sure some are and some probably are not.
If you knew that your minister was ordained by mail, would you care?
My advice is that if you need to hire a “freelance” minister because you are not getting married in a church, check all credentials and references. There are a lot of great ministers out there that have not been ordained by mail and maybe some that have!
Check the list of ministers that I have on this site for some great choices!
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Dr. Bill from Dallas, Ga says...
Anyone can be a minister. Just because someone went to college to get ordained does not mean they know what they are doing. Just because someone did NOT go to college to get ordained does not mean they are incompetent. Just look at all the scandals in our churches. These are college prepped-ordained ministers committing all kinds of crimes and moral degradations. I suggest that people get references from people who know the ministers. Also, does the minister have any legal papers that certify them? Many local governments have the requirement that ministers register before performing marriages.
Posted: 10/27/2010 3:40:28 PM
Lei Lydle, Editor from Atlanta, Georgia says...
In reading the comments on this very old article I don't think some people either read the entire article or they missed the point!
Posted: 2/17/2009 4:04:03 PM
Bride to Be from Ohio says...
You need to check your facts before you write another article. You should find out the outcome of the case against this woman before criticising the choice to have a close friend marry you that has been ordained online for you instead of having some random minister marry you that you hardly know.
Wedding Date: 3/8/09
Posted: 2/16/2009 10:31:11 PM
DC from Texas says...
While I understand the intent of your article, would like to add for the comment readers the following: Mainstream has led us to believe that only formal training qualifies ministers/priests/etc. The only written, universal authority on the subject is the Bible. Ironically, none of the apostles were formally trained with the exception of Paul, and his formal training was in Judism, not Christianity...yet he wrote fourteen books of the Bible. The other apostle were commoners, fishermen and the like. God founded His church with ordinary men through the power of the Holy Spirit. Lastly, its knowing the character, morality and integrity of the minister that matters. Their "certifications" are merely regulatory formality. Sadly, many do not "know" a minister due to their lack of spiritual desire. In which case they should only concern themselves with the legal status of the minister. Alternatively, they could find someone to follow as that minister follows Christ.
Posted: 1/29/2009 2:23:51 AM
Matt from Arizona says...
I did a wedding in Ohio and in Arizona with my WCM credentials. In Ohio, I had to submit my WCM credentials to the state and they issued me a license so there was no doubt I could legally perform a marriage. In Arizona, it is much easier. I checked up on it. WCM is legit. And I have worked with a LOT of "respectable" Christian ministries and very few of them are as nice and loving as WCM. The Bible gives no special ritual or guidance on ordination or performing marriages AT ALL. It is man-made tradition. The Bible teaches that ALL believers are preists. Read it. Getting the legal papers just makes it easier to do what God already allows. For the record, I was ordained the old fashioned way (laying on of hands by church elders), but since that church no longer exists, I joined WCM to stay ordained. Rev. McElroy is a very nice man and helps people to get into ministry that could not do it any other way. With only 8% of Americans being truly Christian, the seminary grads and theologians clearly don't know what they are doing and could probably use McElroy's advice.
Wedding Date: done
Posted: 12/4/2008 11:35:18 PM
Rachel from Jacksonville, FL says...
Brenda did have a license by that organization however there was some complicated law of some sort that allowed them to prosecute her even though the law needed intent to commit fraud which was not the case. Ms. Gorst did a lot of things for people, including giving people beautiful weddings for free who could not afford a wedding. It is quite amazing how quickly people turn when someone is down. To be clear, a wedding ceremony does not have to be performed by a "religious" person, a notary public can legally marry people in most states.
Posted: 10/19/2008 8:32:42 PM
being ordained by wcm is legal in my state of Ohio. You have to send them a copy of your ordination or license.
Posted: 11/12/2005 5:11:16 AM
Lei Lydle, Founder from says...
To Mark and Ms. Youngblood,
Thanks for your comments but I fear you have both misunderstood this article - or perhaps I wasn't clear - probably the case now that I read it again.
Anyway, I was only commenting on the news article referenced above. In the above referenced case, if I remember the article correctly, the problem was that hundreds of couples who thought they were legally married by this person may not actually be married at all. Isn't that scary? To think all along that you were married when you really weren't. This is not a reflection of the WCM, because she may not have really been ordained by the WCM. I don't even know what the outcome of the case was...
To be clear, I have no problem with the World Christian Ministries whatsoever - at the time that I wrote this article I just didn't know exactly how easy it was to get ordained. Regardless, the point of my article is that if you need to hire a freelance minister -- no matter how your minister is ordained, WCM or otherwise -- check credentials and references. That is all! I give this advice about ALL wedding vendors. It is just plain smart and prudent to check credentials and references. thanks again! ~ Lei
Posted: 11/2/2005 3:40:39 PM
Ms Younglood from Georgia says...
Just because a man or woman has gone though school to become a medical doctor make No mistake I would never use them for any kind of disease like AIDS or cancer. I'd use an herb Dr. Or someone alternative. I think that you are being close minded about people. Do your research....look at all those so called "real ministers" who went through school and now they are molesting kids as much as the catholic priests. My point is this.......God accepts all those who want to teach about the real message.....love and peace.
Posted: 11/2/2005 2:47:08 PM
Mark from says...
"If this is legal, then maybe Brenda didn’t really get certified from the World Christianship Ministries – who knows!" Here's a thought, before slamming something, why don't you "fact-check".. Seriously. I'm ordained thussly, and I take it very seriously. With all that's gone on with abuse in the news these last years, what on earth tells you that a person ordained through a ministry that's mainstream is any less likely to be not real. You want to know how to tell-? Talk to the person, feel the person, and trust that god will take you to exactly where you need to be. Good luck. M.
Posted: 9/15/2005 3:02:45 PM