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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 102601
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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I am a Commissioned Chaplain for the Valencia County Sherriffs

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I am a Commissioned Chaplain for the Valencia County Sherriff's Department in New Mexico, U.S.A. I have been endorsed by my Christian Church, but have not been ordained from a seminary or school. Would the Sheriff's deputies be considered a "congregation" as required by New York State. Would I be able to officiate a wedding ceremony in Suffolk County, New York, or would I need further licensing?
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

Section 11 of the Domestic Relations Law of the State of New York shows the list of people who are eligible to perform Marriage Ceremonies within the State of New York.

Specifically, the statute states: "clergyman or minister of any religion..."

According to the state's ongoing interpretation of that statute, clergy members or ministers of any religion may officiate the wedding, traditionally.

The fact that you have not been ordained does not disqualify you as a minister - there are plenty of lay ministers who officiate weddings. But you may have trouble proving your ministry. You'd need to show one of the following to prove you are a minister:

1) Published directory of congregation listing your name as a minister;
2) letter from the denomination that publishes the directory, confirming your membership;
3) Certificates of Ordination or Licenses to Minister;
4) ordination certificate, a License to Minister, or a letter of appointment from your denomination;
5) a letter from your congregation that states that you are the recognized spiritual leader of the congregation and the congregation consents to your registration - here, but would also need a copy of Articles of Incorporation from the church's nonprofit group.

Now, if you can provide one of the above, then great - you can officiate weddings. If not, then you STILL CAN by simply becoming a minister for with the Universal Life Church, which allows anyone to become a minister in Christian tradition - here. The state has generally NOT had an issue with such an officiant, and it qualifies as "Certificates of Ordination or Licenses to Minister."

Would the Sheriff's deputies be considered a "congregation" as required by New York State.

If it can be used to show on the above (list 1-5) then yes, but if not, then you may have to use Universal Life Church as a "fast-track" to satisfy the legal requirements.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am already a minister with the ULC. I heard of some marriages being annulled in New York because we do not have a congregation per se. I don't want to use it and then have the marriage annulled. Thanks for your help. Calvary chapels have no membership and maybe I can use #5

Hello. If you do, please check here (Option 3) and make sure you have all the paperwork. Good luck.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I read a court case in New York city where the judge ruled - no more ULC officiates in New York city


Would you share this link with me?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I already sent it to you- this web site is the pits


I am sorry you are having issues with the site... I have yet to receive it, but if you wish to (attempt to) share again, please do.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Forget it, I am taking the answer as no!