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How to Become an Ordained Minister

Published Tuesday, Dec. 27th, 2022

Learn how to become a legally ordained minister, including common pathways like online ordination, a seminary degree, and one-on-one study



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AMM Audio Articles · How to Become an Ordained Minister




Do you want to become an ordained minister? 


Do you want to officiate weddings, funerals, baptisms, wiccanings, naming ceremonies, vow renewals, and more? 


Do you strive to serve people in your spiritual community with compassion, love, respect, and kindness? 


You’re in the right place! We cover the basics of how to become an ordained minister below, including the common pathways of online ordination, seminary degrees, and one-on-one study.



  • What is Ordination? Definition and titles.


past tense: ordained; past participle: ordained


1. make (someone) a priest or minister; confer holy orders on. (from Oxford Languages)

Ordination is the process by which someone becomes an ordained member of the clergy – someone chosen to perform special religious, spiritual, or secular duties in alignment with a church or denomination’s beliefs.


These duties might include officiating a marriage ceremony or funeral service, leading other rites like a baptism or blessing; taking confession; or delivering a sermon. 


Read Is American Marriage Ministries a Legal Church?

Clergy members have a variety of titles that reflect their status, such as priest, priestess, rabbi, imam, pastor, reverend, or minister. All of these titles signal that a person has been ordained.



  • How to become an ordained minister: Common pathways to ordination 


There are several common pathways to ordination, and each denomination or church decides its own process for ordaining someone. Once you are ordained, your right to conduct religious ceremonies of all forms (including wedding ceremonies, funerals, baptisms, and other rites) is protected by the Establishment Clause ( or the religious non-establishment clause) and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.


Some common pathways to ordination are:

  • Submit a form online
  • Graduate from a private seminary
  • Study under an individual rabbi or priest
  • Get a degree in religious studies or religious history from a public college or university, such as a Masters of Divinity degree (MDiv)

Each of these paths is a valid choice, with unique benefits and drawbacks. 
For example, attending a seminary or university program can be rewarding, but can be too expensive, competitive, and time consuming for many people to pursue. MDiv degrees can take 3 or more years to complete, and cost around $40,000. 
Online ordination is affordable and fast, making it an excellent choice for adults of any income or age, but is occasionally dismissed by people with limited views of faith. 
Some churches offer free online ordination, including American Marriage Ministries (AMM). 


Read more about where to get ordained online: Popular places to get ordained online, and which one is right for you!



  • Who can get ordained? 


Each denomination and church decides who among their members is qualified for ordination.
Some churches have strict rules about who can and can’t get ordained. For example, many denominations won’t allow women or open members of the LGBTQ+ community to become ordained, including Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, Mormons (formally known as Latter-day Saints), and Jewish Orthodox congregations.
Other churches, including American Marriage Ministries, ordain people from all walks of life and backgrounds without discrimination. 
(AMM is inclusive and never discriminates on the basis of sex, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, income, or ability – find out more about our inclusive, interfaith approach here.)




  • Ordination with American Marriage Ministries


Becoming an ordained minister online with American Marriage Ministries is a simple and straightforward process. We don’t ask you to hold any specific religious or spiritual beliefs, we just ask you to agree to the three Tenets which comprise the core of our doctrine:


1. All people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry; 
2. It’s the right of every couple to choose who will solemnize their marriage;
3. That all people have the right to solemnize marriage.


Our ordinations are free, and our beliefs are intended to be universal and inclusive.
Our Church is based on seeing past differences, past tribal and cultural boundaries, past sexual orientation and gender, to the commonalities that we all share. Our Tenets represent values and a world-view that all people can share, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Pagan, or of any other faith.



Get ordained with American Marriage Ministries 




Want to know more about AMM and the meaning behind our ordinations? 
Visit  What are American Marriage Ministries Beliefs?



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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

Lewis King
Lewis King

Staff Writer

Lewis loves exploring the space between power, discourse, and material reality where institutions like marriage are defined. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling and restocking the sparkling water.

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