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Old 06-14-2017, 11:19 PM
 
49 posts, read 27,556 times
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A friend is trying to get married in West Windsor NJ and was wondering if there are any qualifications for the minister who officiates. The minister she wants to do the civil ceremony is from my home church which is a registered non-profit, but he is not ordained persay and is not "certified" or "registered" with the state as a minister. The church can provide an official statement mentioning that he is a minister. Can this person legally officiate a wedding? On the website it says:

"According to state law, judges of a Federal District Court, United States magistrates, judges of a Municipal Court, judges of the Superior Court, judges of a Tax Court, retired judges of the Superior Court or Tax Court, or judge of the Superior Court or Tax Court who has resigned in good standing, and any mayor/deputy mayor or chairman of any township committee, village president of New Jersey, County Clerks, and every minister of every religion may solemnize a marriage. "

Source: Getting Married in New Jersey - Township of West Windsor
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Old 06-14-2017, 11:28 PM
 
Location: The Crocheted Cauldron
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It is my opinion that if one is not *Officially Ordained* in their respective denomination that they are not a Minister.
Perhaps a call to the area that issues marriage license would provide you with the legal answer to your question.
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Old Yesterday, 07:31 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
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As someone who has officiated weddings, this much I know:

In New Jersey, there is no registration requirement with the state to be "certified" or "registered" to officiate a wedding.

Much of what you read online may tell you that your key contact is the county office of vital statistics. But in New Jersey, your key contact is the appropriate officer (often health department) of the municipality in which the wedding occurs.

Call West Windsor and find out who that person is. Ask if there are municipal registration requirements for officiants.

Absent municipal requirements, the burden of proof for legitimacy of the officiant falls upon the officiant him/herself, and subsequently upon the married couple if questions were ever to arise.

"Every minister of every religion" is the actual verbiage within NJ's statute. Note the term "ordination" isn't there! Not all religions (or even sects within religions)"ordain" their ministers. Hence, an official statement from the church is probably adequate — unless the church IS in the habit of ordaining, in which case an argument could be made that the person is still not a "minister", regardless of the church's statement, because he does not meet the church's ordinary requirement for being considered a minister. Sounds crazy and uncertain, right?

So, to be on the safe side, get ordained! Two of the more reputable web-based ministries that will ordain you are Universal Life Church Monastery and American Marriage Ministries. Both are very ordination friendly. Issue resolved!
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Old Yesterday, 07:39 AM
 
13,897 posts, read 6,770,045 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by furinax View Post
A friend is trying to get married in West Windsor NJ and was wondering if there are any qualifications for the minister who officiates. The minister she wants to do the civil ceremony is from my home church which is a registered non-profit, but he is not ordained persay and is not "certified" or "registered" with the state as a minister. The church can provide an official statement mentioning that he is a minister. Can this person legally officiate a wedding? :
In the US, the government cannot dictate to a religious organization who their officiants are or what their processes must be. If the church will attest to the person's role as a minister, that's sufficient.


The fact, however, that the state requires a signature that might mean nearly nothing is more evidence that marriages should not be a process divided between church and state.


States should own domestic partnership contracts, religion should own "marriage."
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Old Yesterday, 07:47 AM
 
49 posts, read 27,556 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickDD View Post
As someone who has officiated weddings, this much I know:

In New Jersey, there is no registration requirement with the state to be "certified" or "registered" to officiate a wedding.

Much of what you read online may tell you that your key contact is the county office of vital statistics. But in New Jersey, your key contact is the appropriate officer (often health department) of the municipality in which the wedding occurs.

Call West Windsor and find out who that person is. Ask if there are municipal registration requirements for officiants.

Absent municipal requirements, the burden of proof for legitimacy of the officiant falls upon the officiant him/herself, and subsequently upon the married couple if questions were ever to arise.

"Every minister of every religion" is the actual verbiage within NJ's statute. Note the term "ordination" isn't there! Not all religions (or even sects within religions)"ordain" their ministers. Hence, an official statement from the church is probably adequate — unless the church IS in the habit of ordaining, in which case an argument could be made that the person is still not a "minister", regardless of the church's statement, because he does not meet the church's ordinary requirement for being considered a minister. Sounds crazy and uncertain, right?

So, to be on the safe side, get ordained! Two of the more reputable web-based ministries that will ordain you are Universal Life Church Monastery and American Marriage Ministries. Both are very ordination friendly. Issue resolved!
Thanks. The health department contact was the one who said they have no idea... so I have a feeling both the state and the township are not taking responsibility of verification here. The pastor in question has officiated a wedding before, but again like I said not ordained. The main reason to go with the pastor is that he is officiating the religious ceremony anyway and is also flexible on schedule.

The health department contact did send a list of officiants from the township that are recommended, and I think it makes sense for my friend to go through that list. It may cost extra, but at least the question is left out. Let's see what she decides...
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Old Yesterday, 11:16 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
1,336 posts, read 2,901,982 times
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Default Terminology — Civil Union vs. Marriage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph_Kirk View Post
In the US, the government cannot dictate to a religious organization who their officiants are or what their processes must be. If the church will attest to the person's role as a minister, that's sufficient.
The fact, however, that the state requires a signature that might mean nearly nothing is more evidence that marriages should not be a process divided between church and state.
States should own domestic partnership contracts, religion should own "marriage."
This >>> "States should own domestic partnership contracts, religion should own 'marriage'." Couldn't agree more strongly!

This issue is a bit tangent to OP's post, but interesting nonetheless. In this area, the separation of church is state is not only blurred but smudged! The problem is that the historical use of religious terminology (marriage) had always been commonly accepted, among both We The People and our civil servants, that it was assumed to mean the same thing within religion and law. Decades past, government had no cause to avoid using the same term to describe both the religious union and the civil union. But over the past half century, reasons have become increasingly apparent.

A suggested modification: Government should stick with the term "civil union", leaving "marriage" within the domain of religion.
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Old Yesterday, 11:38 PM
 
Location: New Jersey
1,336 posts, read 2,901,982 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by furinax View Post
Thanks. The health department contact was the one who said they have no idea... so I have a feeling both the state and the township are not taking responsibility of verification here. The pastor in question has officiated a wedding before, but again like I said not ordained. The main reason to go with the pastor is that he is officiating the religious ceremony anyway and is also flexible on schedule.

The health department contact did send a list of officiants from the township that are recommended, and I think it makes sense for my friend to go through that list. It may cost extra, but at least the question is left out. Let's see what she decides...
Surprising that the health department wasn't helpful. As long as the officiant correctly completes that "marriage license" paperwork and submits it timely to the township, it's unlikely that the state or municipality will raise any question about the officiant.

I would avoid that "recommended list". It sounds like you want the pastor to officiate the ceremony but then have a different "recommended" party officiate the paperwork. The person officiating the ceremony should be the individual who attests on the paperwork too.

In the unlikely event that questions are raised, the pastor should be ready to make a defense that he IS indeed a "minister" who satisfies the requirements of the law. The church letter should be adequate — but for a bulletproof defense, have him ordained.
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Old Today, 12:37 PM
 
49 posts, read 27,556 times
Reputation: 32
Thanks all. You have been very helpful.
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