Category Archives: Start a Church

Holiday Season – Good Time to Get Ordained

Ordained minister performs a holiday weddingWe have entered the end-of-year holidays, the most powerful holiday season of every year. At this time, spiritual energy really surges and many people feel called “home” to religion or faith tradition. Many people also answer the call to the ministry.

Get Ordained to Perform a Wedding

There are a lot of weddings this time of year (second only to June wedding season) and thus many become an ordained minister or rabbi in order to officiate a marriage. We ordain a lot of clergy in order that they may perform a wedding.

Get Ordained to Offer Spiritual Advice or Counseling

But also, there is an uptick every year this time in people becoming ordained in order to offer spiritual guidance, spiritual counseling to the slice of humanity that surrounds them.  A person often realizes they should become ordained when they notice friends and co-workers, even family are coming to them almost daily asking for spiritual advice. They are literally already acting as informal clergy, and the next step is ordination to make it legal (and be able to accept donations). That, of course, is where our Seminary comes in.  We ordain ministers and rabbis of all callings and denominations — even non-denominational!

Have you heard the Call to Ordination?

If you have felt that pull, that tug on your soul-strings, it might be time for you to become an ordained member of the clergy. We do all the legal paperwork and help you begin your destiny of helping humanity fulfill its vital spiritual needs.  You may go on to found your own non-profit religious organization or church, or you may continue to serve your community as a spiritual guide.

So much attention is paid to physical and mental needs, but ordained clergy serve a vital purpose helping their people connect to SPIRITUAL needs.

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

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.