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March 22, 2009

Universal Life Church Welcomes You


Long story short: It's no longer a lightning rod for controversy as it was 40 years ago when ordination could result in draft deferment during the Vietnam War.

Nowadays ordination as a ULC minister is more something people do "as a lark," according to Andre Hensley, church pastor and president and son of founder Kirby Hensley (pictured above and below),


quoted in yesterday's Washingon Post story.


"Celebrities such as Mary Hart, Tony Danza, Courtney Love and all four of the Beatles were ordained by Universal Life Church."

"He [Hensley] estimated that about 25 percent of ULC ministers are actively using their credentials."

"On one recent morning, he ordained people from London;  Ohio; Tennessee; Santiago, Chile; and Christchurch, New Zealand. Ordaining means he forwards a request from his computer to an employee, who fills out the ordination form and puts it in the mail."

"A ULC-authorized Web site, www.ulc.net, has a database of ULC ministers. They hail from across the United States and around the world."

A longer March 7, 2009 Modesto Bee article by Sue Nowicki described in detail the life and times of the church; excerpts:

"The church office is filled with 11 computers, five full-time employees and three part-time workers. They are quietly minding the machines, sending streams of information to one another. The stack of 9-by-12-inch manila envelopes grows throughout the day, nearly two feet high by the time the mailman picks it up."

"'We're just here to help people and to provide a service that apparently has been lacking in some churches,' Andre said."

"That service includes putting ordination certificates, regardless of faith or education, into the hands of anyone who wants one. And many people do. ULC sends out between 8,500 and 10,000 such certificates each month, close to 18 million worldwide since 1962."

"About 80 percent of those requesting the free (or for a small charge, a souped-up) ordination form also purchase an additional product, said Andre, 49. It might be something small, like a $3 marriage license, or a $10 book, or a course such as "The PhD in Religion (Doctor of Ph)," for a 'minimum donation of $100.'"

"A church service is held Sundays. Hensley said that at its height in the 1980s, the church attracted about 100 people. That's down to about eight adults and seven children, and overall, things seem pretty quiet these days."

March 22, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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