PhD in Religion, Pastoral Counseling, Metaphysics, with a Concentration

Get a degree online PhD Pastoral Counseling Metaphysics ReligionCustomize your PhD Title

For years now the seminary has offered religious PhD degrees in Metaphysics, Religion, Religious Studies, Ministry, Pastoral Counseling, Spiritual Counseling, etc. Degree candidates can customize their PhD according to the work they are doing in the field of spirituality. Some are working in a spiritual healing center, or maintaining a spiritual counseling practice as a part of their ministry. (All of our PhD’s and Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Theology graduates must become ordained as clergy by us — which is free with their degree — if they are not already ordained elsewhere).

PhD with a Concentration

Not only can you choose your PhD discipline and thus your PhD title, you can also add a concentration on your degree diploma. For example, last month we conferred a PhD in Metaphysics with a Concentration in Holistic Counseling. Another concentration was PhD in Pastoral Counseling with a concentration in Ministry. There are all manner of ways to describe what you do. You must of course write your thesis / dissertation on that topic, but if it’s the area you are focusing your current spiritual work, writing the thesis about it will go easy.

Get ordained on Easter Sunday

Get ordained become a minister

Certificate of Ordination from our church

There is still time for Easter Sunday ordinations in 2014.  Every year we have people want to become an ordained minister on Easter Sunday.

For centuries since the earliest days of Christianity during the Roman Empire, the traditional day for baptisms and ordinations — either to the priesthood or to become an ordained deacon — were held on Easter Sunday.  It is a tradition many of our clergy want to be a part of.

If you want to be part of this tradition, all you need to do is follow the three steps to ordination, then fill out the online minister application and let us know you want Easter Sunday for your ordination.

(You can actually choose any date that has special meaning to you for your ordination)

Get Ordained to Officiate Weddings, We do all the paperwork

Get ordained become a minister

Certificate of Ordination from our church

Wedding season is fast approaching!  Get ordained in time to officiate weddings, become a wedding officiant before the May rush gets here. We help you with all the paperwork.

The Esoteric Interfaith Church has always assisted our ordained ministers get their paperwork in line so they are able to officiate a wedding. Some States require more than the signed Certificate of Ordination from us, they require you to register first with them first before you can perform a marriage.

We help you with all needed paperwork.   Nevada, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Virginia and cities like New York City and Washington, D.C. require extra paperwork before the minister is allowed to officiate weddings. There are other “picky” states, too, and we help you with all of them.  Our ministers and rabbis are able to legally officiate weddings in all 50 States.

For example, we are notarizing a special Nevada affidavit to solemnize marriage for one of our ordained ministers. [Our Seminary also granted him a PhD in Religious Studies and Doctor of Divinity, but you don't need a religious degree to legally perform a wedding.  All you need is your Certificate of Ordination such as those we give to those we ordain.]

In Nevada, the minister who wants to perform a wedding there has to fill out extra paperwork and get a notarized affidavit from us.   He was ordained as a minister and earned not only his PhD in Theology degree here, but also a Doctor of Divinity years ago. But now he wants to do weddings. So we are fixing him all up.

How to Register as an Ordained Minister to Officiate Weddings in Nevada

Clark County Nevada and Washoe County both have the paperwork you need right online.  All you have to do is fill in the blanks, then print it out. We will send you the link, if you can’t find it. One page however is for us, the church that ordains you. It’s called the Affidavit of Authority to Solemnize Marriages in Nevada. The church fills our page out, gets it notarized and sends to you to submit all at once with the pages you fill out.

Get Ordained with a nationwide church that supports you

If you are thinking about getting ordained, starting your own church or wedding chapel, setting up a pastoral / spiritual counseling or healing practice, we have been helping clergy (ministers, rabbis, chaplains, priests) with their paperwork for 26 years, and have been here online since 1999.

Filing your taxes as a minister or other clergy member, don’t forget your tax breaks!

get ordained onlineWell, it’s tax time and as usual, I am slogging thru the sea of rules for ordained ministers and clergy. Since I direct a Seminary that ordains several ministers per month, I am also asked tax questions by our alumni this time of year. I came across some very big tax breaks for ministers I had forgotten about! With this economy, we clergy need every tax break we can get.

For example, all these years I’ve been filing my taxes as a member of the clergy, first as an ordained minister / pastor, priest and then bishop, and all these years as an advisor to hundreds of ministers and rabbis we have ordained over the years (we’ve been ordaining ministers since 1987), I have been missing out on some of the many tax benefits.

Most ministers know you can (with a bunch of paperwork) exempt yourself from paying federal income taxes and social security. You then have to figure out your own retirement, but there are tons of cool retirement benefits for pastors and ministers, so it’s not that bad. I personally pay into the social security system every year called self employment tax. Ministers can report income as self-employment income if their church issues them a 1099 (which is easier than you think, church founders and directors – as church director, I have to sign my own 1099, ironically). The church can also pay you with a W2 – also not hard to draw up if you have founded a church and are now worried sick, just get organized in January to make the deadlines. Some ministers even get one W2 showing salary paid and a 1099 for all the fees they earned from performing a baptism, officiating a wedding, funeral, etc. My church doesn’t really make enough to pay me a salary, but I do get some fees as a wedding officiant, for doing an in person ordination ceremony, etc. So the church pays me every year with a 1099 MISC.

What a lot of ministers are missing out on and which I used to not really care about, is the housing allowance. If you have founded a church as a non-profit and it is bringing in donations and finally able to pay you the minister, (or rabbi, chaplain, priest) a salary or with a 1099 for a bunch of fees, you can subtract a huge amount of that income from your taxable income – that is you don’t have to pay taxes on it. The housing allowance means you can basically “deduct” not only your mortgage or rent payment, but also utilities, repairs and even furniture purchases. IRS Publication 517 which you can find online easily, explains a lot of the details. One of our ordained ministers recently ordained founded their own church and is now issuing themselves a salary. The board of directors (you only have to have 3 people, one of which is yourself to found a church) then made a resolution at their very first meeting to pay her a salary and also a housing allowance of $2000 a month, which is the going rate in her area for a furnished house plus utilities.

To be able to use the housing allowance, they said it is best to be an ordained minister, not just a licensed or a commissioned minister. In an audit if you are a “duly ordained minister” you have the best chance for the housing allowance to be upheld by the IRS. Licensed or commissioned ministers do not normally qualify for it. At first I thought that doesn’t make sense, but then again we have always “duly” ordained our candidates never really having a need to make a licensed or commissioned minister.

Those who found and run a wedding chapel also can benefit from the ordained minister tax breaks, and the wealth of info in the online IRS publications pertaining to clergy and members of religious orders.

Render unto Caesar that which is “his” would now be “Render unto Uncle Sam!”

Email me if you have any questions about becoming ordained.


Bishop Katia

When Loved Ones Die, Funeral & Spiritual Counseling Ideas for Ordained Ministers

when somebody dies - funeral comforting resources for the ordained minister, pastor, rabbi, spiritual counselor

Ordained clergy should deliver comfort and solace when loved ones die

Inspiring online resources for ordained ministers and all clergy to use when counseling people who have lost loved ones

If you have been asked to perform a funeral, or give a eulogy, or just be there to comfort the family of the departed one, these resources will not only inspire and uplift you, but give you ideas and words to say to bring solace to the grieving. This is what “ministering” is all about, this is one of the most difficult jobs for ordained clergy.


Resources recommended by David Sunfellow

Watch all the videos recommended in this post on NHNE Pulse:

Many people suffer terribly when a family member or dear friend passes from this world to the next. If you are looking for something to ease your pain and/or lift the pain of another, here are a few helpful resources to explore and possibly share…

Nurse Shares 30 Years Of Spiritual Experiences With Death & Dying

Surviving Death, A Short Documentary About Near-Death Experience

Near-Death Experience Documentary – Commonalities Of The Experience


Hundreds of near-death experience videos, most of them first-person accounts, can be found here:

NHNE’s “Must Watch” NDE Playlist

NHNE’s Archive of NDE Testimonials


NHNE Pulse on Shared-Death Communications

NHNE Pulse on Death-Bed Experiences

NHNE Pulse on After-Death Communications


By Raymond Moody

Book Description:

Raymond Moody, author of the multimillion copy best-seller, Life After Life, reveals new results from his lifelong investigation of what happens when we die. Raymond Moody revolutionized the way we think about death with his first book, Life After Life, which was stories of people who died and then returned to life. Going through a tunnel, encountering an angelic being or having an out-of-body experience are hallmarks of what Moody termed a ‘near death experience.’ Since the publication of his multimillion copy best-seller, hundreds of thousands of people have contacted Moody to share their own experiences. The startling pattern that Moody discovered is that at the time of death, loved ones also have inexplicable experiences. Glimpses of Eternity is the first book to talk about the phenomenon of ‘shared death experiences.’ Readers will discover deathbed moments when entire families see the light or the room changes shape. Others tell of seeing a film like review of a loved one’s life and learning things that they could never have known otherwise. The stories are at once a comfort and a mystery, giving us a new understanding of the journey that we will take at the end of our lives.

By Bill Guggenheim, Judy Guggenheim

Book Description:

“After-death communications,” or “ADCs, ” occur when someone is contacted spontaneously and directly by a deceased family member or friend, without the help of any medium. The authors’ research shows that these spiritual experiences offer hope, love, and comfort for thousands of people. Included are more than 350 first-hand accounts of those whose lives have been changed and even protected by messages or signs from the deceased.

By Becki Hawkins

Book Description:

Transitions: A Nurse’s Education about Life and Death is a collection of stories from Becki Hawkins’s patients over the past thirty years of her career. She started off as a nurse’s aide, became a registered nurse, and began her career in oncology. A couple of years later she also started seeing hospice patients. She also did outpatient oncology nursing, home health/hospice, became a hospice chaplain, and later a hospice volunteer. She now sees patients on a volunteer basis. She began writing a feature column, “Beyond Statistics,” for a local newspaper when her husband told her one evening after her shift at work, “Please don’t tell me about it. Write it down.” The first article was published in 1986. These stories are the patients’ stories and their education to Becki as she visited them about the transitions we make in life and in death. Some of them involve patients in the nursing home, others in the hospital or an outpatient setting, and many others in the patients’ homes. Some of the patients were strangers, some were friends, some acquaintances, and some were family. You will find humor, heartbreak, wisdom, and frequent spiritual allusions in Transitions. The author reminds us that life is brief and fragile, and laced with story after story of how each of us is “learning” in this place that one patient named “Earth School.”

For more information about Becki Hawkins and her book, go here:

Wisdom of Near Death Experiences: How Understanding NDEs Can Help Us Live More Fully
By Penny Sartori

Book Description:

This book considers a wide range of experiences of dying patients that Dr. Sartori has encountered during her nursing career. It focuses on the near-death experiences (NDEs) of patients Dr. Sartori has nursed as well as the hundreds of cases of people who have contacted her over the years. Many people take NDEs at surface value and are mis-informed about the full extent of this highly complex phenomenon. This book examines all aspects of the NDE and Dr. Sartori emphasizes that by pathologising the NDE we are missing out on very important insights which can empower us to live fulfilled and meaningful lives. The results of her hospital research and that of others could not find a physiological or psychological explanation for these experiences and they can no longer be ignored or explained away. The crucial point of this book is that NDEs undoubtedly occur and have very real, often dramatic, life changing after effects. Further to that, the wisdom gained during the NDE can be life enhancing and have hugely positive effects on those who don’t have a NDE – all we have to do is take notice and hear what these people have to say. A greater understanding of NDEs can not only enhance the way in which we care for dying patients but also revolutionize our current world view. This book encourages readers to take notice of and incorporate the wisdom and powerful message of NDEs into their own lives.

For more information about Dr. Penny Sartori, her book, and the wide-spread interest her book has generated, go here:


Free Online Minister Manual

Bishop James, our Dean of Students at the Seminary, found this link to the New Minister’s Manual.  He writes: It is an excellent resource. As with many internet resources, shelf life is unpredictable, and you should save it if you are interested. +James

He means the manual above is currently a free PDF, but we don’t know how long the authors will continue to so generously make it available.

Several of the ministers and clergy in our network of graduates, including me, immediately downloaded and started to use this new manual. One ordained minister pointed out the manual is not as inclusive as it could be, is Christian-only, not Interfaith.  She made a good point.

minmanualFor the past twenty plus years as we ordain ministers, rabbis and other clergy of all callings and faiths, we offer them the Interfaith Minister Manual pictured right.  I think both these minister manuals are a good addition to one’s library. Now that I think about it, I should photograph my shelf of clergy manuals here at the Seminary. This “collection” compiled over the past quarter century now takes up two shelves on their own, and that does not include all the other liturgy and ceremony / ritual books. Does anyone else “collect” minister manuals? We have long considered putting a minister manual online somehow, or at least a compilation of religious ceremonies, rites of passage, etc.  We used to have some nice funeral ceremony “templates” and of course a bunch of wedding ceremonies online back in 1999 and 2000 when the Seminary first went online. Wonder what happened to those.

So many of our clergy create their own ceremonies these days that not too many want to follow along a set “script”.  However, doing so is much easier when you can cut and paste, pick and choose elements from a  minister manual or wedding ceremonies you find online.  With the help of the bride and groom, a wedding officiant usually customizes the ceremony by using all these minister tools.  That reminds me of one of the little known ancient meanings of the word ordination.  It means “to have the tools placed in hand” by the Divine.  In the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) we find the first use of the word ordination. God would ordain priests, clergy, etc. by placing “tools” of the ministry in their hands.   They were empowered, ordained, set to work.  Our formal Certificate of Ordination uses an old turn of phrase, “Ordained to the work of ______________ Minister”. The minister or clergy title such as Interfaith Minister, Chaplain, Spiritual Minister, Rabbi, Priest goes in there.

Being clergy is a special kind of work (with tools handed down from on High!). Some would say it is the Great Work.


The Wedding Blessing, great gift from the Minister

Apache Marriage BlessingOne of our ordained ministers is performing a wedding in New York and asked if I had any good wedding blessings.  Google reveals not only some lovely wording, but some very beautiful wedding / marriage blessing posters suitable for framing. I thought this would be a great gift for the minister to give to the bride and groom along with their marriage license / certificate. You can use the wording in the wedding ceremony and then give them a framed copy of these gorgeous blessings with the same words. There are Irish wedding blessings, Apache aka Indian wedding blessing (also called the Apache Wedding Prayer), Jewish wedding blessings, Celtic, Interfaith, even Dr. Seuss wedding blessings! (The latter is great to use if you have children involved in the wedding).

Gift ideas for newly ordained minister, priest, deacon

Interfaith Minister Manual with Interfaith wedding ceremonies and ritualsA perfect gift for a new ordained minister is our Interfaith Minister Manual [offered in the check-out cart online when you become ordained by us]. I also think a white minister stole is a fabulous gift idea. Both can be used when performing a wedding, and the minister looks great, by the way!

One of my favorite blogs is called The Deacon’s Bench, Where [Catholic] Deacon Greg Kandra Ponders the World. Deacon Greg is Catholic but he seems to be sympathetic with women’s ordination causes, and he often posts items useful to non-denominational and interfaith ministers.  Like, “What should you give a newly ordained priest or deacon” …

Over on his Facebook page, Fr. James Martin has some ideas:
The best gift of all is your love and prayers, but in case you want to supplement that, the most useful gifts (in my experience) are as follows, in order of cost. (By the way, none of the following companies put me up to this!)
First, the various “rites books,” which the priest can use for weddings, baptisms or funerals (normally a soon-to-be-ordained priest will already have the Roman Missal, a Lectionary, a breviary and so on, but still might need the rites books.) You can find them almost anywhere, but Catholic Book Publishing is a good start:
Second, a Mass kit, which a priest can bring with him to celebrate Mass where there might not be all the necessary supplies, etc.:
Finally, if you really want to give something memorable, a stole. The best color, to my mind, is gold and white, since you can use it almost anywhere (baptisms, weddings, etc.) The “gold standard” is made by the Trappists in Spencer, Mass., at the Holy Rood Guild. You can also get them to embroider a little greeting on the back.
And the nicest ordination cards are from Printery House:
Deacon Greg adds: I can only add: Amen.
At my ordination several people gave me stoles, and my wife and her parents chipped in to buy me a couple beautiful dalmatics, too.  Several people in the parish gave me gift certificates to a local church goods store. Another great resource, I think, is Deacon Store, which offers online gift certificates. My idol, Elizabeth Scalia, gave me a certificate from there when I was ordained.  My goddaughter (whom I’d sponsored through RCIA, btw) gave me a nice chapel edition of the Sacramentary which I kept for reference at home (but with the new Missal, sadly, it’s out of date).
When in doubt, a little cash can’t hurt, along with any spare prayers!

Become an Ordained Minister in New York City

Captain Arnold ordained chaplain performs a wedding on board a ship in New York City harbor

Captain Arnold ordained chaplain performs a wedding on board a ship in New York City harbor

To officiate a wedding within New York City limits requires the minister / rabbi / clergy-member to register with the New York City Clerk’s Office.   Besides the Certificate of Ordination you receive from us, you need two pieces of additional paperwork to become an ordained minister in NYC — to be able register with the Clerk’s Office. We have been helping ministers / clergy get registered with NYC Clerk’s Office for almost two decades. It’s not easy, but it’s not difficult and at least it’s not expensive.

To register with NYC Clerk’s Office, you need three items, all of which we supply:

1. Your Certificate of Ordination as a minister, rabbi or other clergy title, which you get by applying here.
2. a copy of our official Articles of Incorporation (which we scan and email to you)
3. a letter stating you are in good standing with our church / religious organization.

Item 1, your Certificate of Ordination with a raised seal is sent thru the mail and takes about three days to receive.

Item 2 is sent by email attachment, our church’s Articles of Incorporation. It is two pages long.

Item 3 is the Letter of Good Standing, which we scan and email to you or mail with your Certificate of Ordination.

Within the last year alone we have helped around a dozen people we’ve ordained register with the NYC Clerk’s Office.  Over the years we’ve helped well over a hundred. Two of them offer marriage services on tourist boats in New York City harbor, one of our ordained chaplains does them “by land, sea or air”.   Those boat weddings are very romantic.  If you visit our Practitioners Directory (aka our Minister Directory) you will see Captain Arnold, and his website link full of  colorful photos of his wedding ministry  / wedding chapel activities. That’s him pictured above recently officiating a beautiful Interfaith wedding on a boat.