I think everyone finds themselves in situations throughout life that requires them to evaluate certain things about themselves and then make a decision based on that self evaluation. Usually when I tell people that I am a certified minister there is always that confused pause where I imagine they are either waiting for me to share my story of this self evaluation that lead me to that decision, or that I’m lying to them. It is true though, I can, if I choose, legally put the title Reverend at the beginning of my name. This also enables me to legally perform certain ceremonies like, well the only one that comes to mind is weddings, but I’m sure there’s more. I’ve even thought about making some business cards that sport the title Reverend on them, but I’ve yet to find a functional purpose for doing that… unless it will get me discounts at restaurants. Hmm… looks like it’s time to do a little research.
The fact of the matter is yes I truly am a reverend. How and why you may ask? Easy, it was the result of a life changing event. The event actually took place in Central Park in New York City, just across from the corner were John Lennon was shot. It was where my dear friend Mike proposed to my dear friend Kathy. I never said the life changing event was mine. There was absolutely no inner evaluation on my part to make this choice. Once they got home we had one of our many and always fabulous wine parties and they announced the engagement. This created a frenzy of joy and emotional outbursts.
It was after I stopped screaming and clapping and jumping up and down in place they popped the big question. It was actually really groovy the way they put it… or at least the way I remember them putting it. They said that with all of the planning they had to do with finding a location, getting a guest list made, and all the planning involved in planning a wedding there was one thing they wanted to be perfect and didn’t want to have to worry about, they wanted me to create their ceremony and be the one to marry them, well, perform the ceremony I mean. And that was it. That was event that got me reverendized. Yes, much like Charlie Brown, I am a good man. Although, I’ve yet to have a musical written and performed stating this, but I am still holding out that it’s only a matter of time.
Being one of self set beliefs about life, the universe, and everything the first thing I knew is that becoming an ordained minister needed to coincide with my lack of religious beliefs. Thank you world wide web you fabulous little vixen of endless links from random Google searches in the hopes of finding something that would give me the title required to perform a wedding for these two amazing and incredibly trusting friends.
The first thing I discovered was that by simply googling “becoming an ordained minister” you get over 1 million results. To save you some time, you really don’t need to go past the first page of results to find the information you’re looking for. I found a “church” that claimed an all inclusive philosophy towards belief. Or to coin a phrase that is already a small shiny ore disc that some people flip into the air for the sake of betting, or for assisting indecisive people to make decisions, they are a “nondenominational” organization. They even had three key selling points that sold, sealed…, helped me chose them for getting my ministers status.
One selling point was their overall inclusion of belief structures, which includes the following: Agnosticism, Atheism, non-Religious, Baha’i Faith, Buddhism, Cao Dai, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Humanism, Islam, Jainism, Juche, Judaism, Natural Law, Neopaganism, New Age, Primal Faith, Primal Indigenous, Rastafarianism, Scientology, Shinto, Sikhism, Spiritism, Taoism, Tarahumara Beliefs, Tenrikyo, The Occult, Traditional African Religion, Unitarian Universalism, and Zoroastrianism. I have no idea what most of those mean, but they are all accepted and ok ideologies according to the “church”.
Selling point two, at the time (it has since been removed) there was a bulleted list on the ordination application page that stated the three key reasons that people become ordained ministers. The first was because people want to share their beliefs with others in a professional setting and not a street corner, i.e. start a church and preach to others. The second reason was to legally perform certain ceremonies, i.e. legally perform weddings for friends or family. And the final reason was, and I am quoting here, “a lark.” Yes as a joke. These people had not delusions about why some people become ministers. I was impressed. And had I not been doing it for the second reason, I would have definitely done it for the third reason at that point.
Finally, and the most significant reason for becoming an ordained minister with this organization, it was free. Turns out all you need to become a reverend is your full legal name, e-mail address, home address, and a working internet connection. It took about three minutes. I filled out the information and clicked on the submit button. They checked to make sure I was a real person living at the address I gave them and… call me reverend. I even have a certificate that I printed out on my computer, and an e-mail stating I am an official minister for the organization and can officially use the title reverend.
Now, if you want a high resolution certificate printed on a nice paper along with a ministers card and additional forms of identification stating that you are a reverend, well that’s going to cost you. Yes the pretty paperwork costs, but you get ordained for free. Hey, religions need money to survive, even all inclusive ones that offer a service so that you can wed your friends. They also have doctorates of religion courses you can take so you can become a Doctor Reverend. I figured one title that I never use is enough, but the option is always there! You know, in the event that I lose a bet that required me to either shave my goatee or become a doctor.
You many ask what becoming a reverend had meant over the years. Pointless titles aside I have actually performed 3 different wedding ceremonies so far and one funeral. I think it’s called conducted, or commenced over, or oversaw… something like that. Those are a little more difficult than weddings, but just as big of an honor.
My favorite wedding that I’ve performed so far is easily the one for my two dear friends that originally asked me to become a minister so I could marry them. There is something immensely satisfying about creating a ceremony for two wonderful people that you know and love. There are no rules for creating a ceremony like that. You start with what you know about each one and add them together. Throw in a lot of love, a line from Monty Python’s Spamalot, maybe a stick if you happen to find one lying around, some almond champagne, a white sand beach, and two rings and you have a ceremony that is not only beautiful and brilliant, but is from beginning to end… totally and utterly them and no one else.
The few wedding I have done have been pretty groovy though, and who knows maybe someday I’ll do a few more. The weirdest part about the whole thing is that everyone looks at you as the one with all the answers. All I can say is that for my first wedding, it was a good thing that I was married so I knew how things were suppose to go as far as lineup, precession, etc. I imagine a wedding planner usually takes care of that, if there is one, otherwise, as the wedding officiate you sort of become hyphenated, meaning the reverend-wedding planner. Although I highly recommend that you never put that on a business card. One thing I know for sure, every wedding does become its own little adventure.
What do you think about my reverendness?
Google Images, key words: reverend, free, and clapping.