Preaching to the Choir

Balance is the Key
Photography - Renee Sosanna Olson

First I’d like to start out by saying, I am not a lawyer.  I have completed the requirements for paralegal in the state of Virginia and attended some classes for the State of California however I am not a lawyer and recommend that If you have legal question that you consult an attorney specializing in this subject matter.

Recently I came across a share of a Family Law blog that had the following statement.

                               Screenshot from the webpage –

At first I was pretty disturbed by this statement as you can imagine.  This statement is based on a case that was ruled in the North Carolina Supreme Court related to Lynch.  The Lynch case created a standard that any marriages officiated by ULC Ordained Ministers were voidable.  Now to the layperson this may sound as though ULC Ministers cannot marry in the State of North Carolina.  This ruling was later overturned in Fulton v. Vickery stating that ULC Minsters can perform marriages in North Carolina.  Now, that being said we should keep in mind that marriages can be declared void for all sorts of things and being void is different from being voidable.  Voidable means that they are valid but can be declared void based on certain set of criteria.

As an Ordained Minister with the ULC I contacted the church immediately to determine if this was indeed the case.  I was responded to almost immediately and informed that the only state currently that does not recognize ULC Ordinations is the state of Virginia.  There have been incidents where marriages have been ruled void based on the trials below (See NC & NY) those are on a case by case basis and do not apply across the board to all ULC officiated marriages.

In my zeal for investigation I quickly was brought back to earth by my hubby who said, “If you want to do a marriage, just CYA by getting a JP permit for the day and do the marriage that way.”  At first my double standard kicked in and I was irate.  Why should I, simply because I do not follow a Christian dogma have to take an extra step to conduct a marriage ceremony. I mean honestly can't they just accept me for who I am?

I appealed to my group, The Covenant of Hekate, to determine if anyone had become Ordained and based it on the process of becoming a Torchbearer.  There is a certain amount of study required and we do have to take an oath and complete a ritual for admission.   Even though this requirement exists which is more than “merely mailing in 10.00 to get a certificate” no one had thought of this as being enough to satisfy the religious training/study requirement. So my search continued.

I went to another page Universal Life Church in Modesto CA , even though crediting the same founder Rev. Kirby Hensley who ironically grew up in North Carolina is the parent church to the ULC-Monastery with BR. G. Martin Freeman as the Presiding Chaplain; Monastery is a completely separate church from the ULC mentioned in the cases.   Then I saw several other websites popup, including,, to name a few.  Each with links to purchase ordination certifications and credentials.  I sat looking puzzled at the screen.  Which ULC was which?  And does it really matter?

You see, earlier this month as I blogged about marriage equality and how marriage was a civil institution.  We needed to keep religion out of marriage because it was wrong to tell LGBT people that based on the "bible" they could not be married.  Yet, here I sat annoyed that the State would tell me if I was legally allowed to solemnize a marriage.

I had that “ah ha” moment.  I realized that my ability to “legally” president over a spiritual bond is moot.  No one is going to come to me looking for a standard wedding ceremony.  They will be someone who is looking to be joined together on an entirely different level, and this something that no government can ever grant anyone.  So while the legal status of ULC marriages may hang in the balance to some, the fact of the matter is marriage is a civil union brought together under the state.  It is governed by the state and should be overseen by the state. 

My recommendation to those looking to preside over weddings or become wedding officials, take the extra step to those protect those you are providing your services to.  Become a magistrate, or a Justice of the Peace.  Take the steps to be “legally” recognized as a member of the clergy to protect your clients from the possibility of legal issues going forward.  At this time ULC Minsters can indeed preform weddings in the state of North Carolina.  It seems to be some confusion around which ULC is which but it is always better to be safe than sorry.  

On a personal note, I can say it was a bit disheartening to fully accept that my path, though shared by many was still a very few and due to it being such an ancient belief system, not fully recognized to be “allowed” to legally solemnize weddings made me sad.  Briefly.  I then realized that what I offer to others is more of spiritual counseling and guidance as opposed to just a ceremony and I suddenly got it. 

No one can endorse my relationship with a deity.  It is something very personal as it should remain.  I will continue to list ULC Ordained Minister on my credentials next to my Torchbearer for Covenant of Hekate.  

I believe both have a place in my life.

Sosanna Olson - 
Ordained Minister - ULC
Torchbearer, Covenant of Hekate


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