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Mark E. DeFillo

Ordination before Education?

  • As we all know, many people have issues with how the Universal Life Church gives ordination to people, and then encourages ministers to obtain appropriate training and education, whereas most mainstream religious traditions of the West do precisely the opposite: requiring candidates to complete extensive education in religion and ministry before being considered for ordination. My fellow ministers may take heart: the historical truth is both systems have age-old precedent.

    Many ancient religions ordain or initiate people into the clergy at the start of their education, not at the end. This is perhaps most well-known and prominent in Hinduism, as well as its relatives, including most indigenous European religions. According to this model, suitable candidates are ordained by investment with the sacred thread (yajnopavita) and are given the Brahma Gayatri and several other mantras. Having this initiation is a prerequisite for the education and training needed to perform the various sacerdotal and ministerial functions.


    By giving ordination to all who are called to request it, who may then seek education and training for the needs of their particular ministry, the founder of the original ULC, whether he knew it or not, was following in the footsteps of that ancient model. As such, it is just as legitimate, and even more time-honored, than the post-education ordination model followed by most modern Western religions. 


    Therefore, fellow ministers, if you ever find yourself challenged by others with complaining of our ordination without first passing through a seminary, etc., you may refer to this precedent as a different valid procedure for inducting people into religious ministry. It may of course be helpful to also say something about any subsequent studies or training that you may have undertaken. 

  • Larry Makinson
    Larry Makinson In the short time that I have been ordained here I have already had this happen twice to me.  both family members.  I do not advertise or promote towards others that I have been ordained here, therefore, I have no experience as to public reactio...  more
  • Larry Makinson
    Larry Makinson Beverly:  " but at the same token this choice represents that you are committing yourself to a life of God's work"  I do not believe that this relates to the ULC ordainment at all.   Our fundamental tasks are to promote freedom of r...  more
  • John Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON
    John Anderson, CD, CIF Mons ON What I say, is that I was ordained by an American church that is in the process of getting recognized in Canada. It' stops questions right quick.
  •  Mark E. DeFillo
    Mark E. DeFillo @Gail: In fairness, I've never seen any sort of polling or statistics on opinions about ULC; my awareness is primarily of how we are represented in media, especially entertainment media. For example, if we view clips on the main site of "celebrity mi...  more