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Students: licensed to marry


The Universal Life Church Monastery has ordained more than 20 million ministers online since its inception, and 104 of them come from the UA.



Why let just anyone, like a UA student, perform weddings, baptisms or funerals?

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George Freeman, the chaplain of the ULC Monastery, said that the better question is why not.



""The most important thing about a wedding is that it is a commitment of two people destined to spend the rest of their life together,"" he said. ""Why can't your brother, sister or favorite uncle marry you?""



Freeman explained that ministers are often strangers to the couple getting married, and that having a family member or close friend perform a wedding can personalize the ceremony for the couple.



Bradford Melrose, a teaching and teacher education and educational leadership graduate student, has performed two weddings since joining the ranks of the 104 UA University Life Church ministers.



Melrose and his wife were married by a ULC-ordained minister, and a friend of his later asked Melrose to become ordained so he could perform the friend's wedding.



""I made it informal and heartfelt rather than traditional,"" Melrose said. ""It (the ceremony) wasn't ritualized, and it was a great time.""



The heartfelt part, he explained, was that he incorporated Beatles lyrics into the ceremony because the bride and groom were big fans of the Beatles.



Danielle Kazibutowski, a sophomore majoring in family studies and human development and ULC-ordained minister, will be officiating her first wedding for her best friend this summer. Kazibutowski said she became ordained to help out her best friend, after her friend's parents ""freaked out"" over the interracial marriage.



""It seems really interesting with all of the different kinds of ways to perform weddings,"" she said. ""I am interested to keep going with it after my best friend's (marriage).""



She said the ministers' social network blog on the website helped her learn why different people wanted to become ordained. She added that the blog is what initially interested her in performing weddings.



The University Life Church states that it preaches a singular message: one of discourse, education and tolerance under the credo ""we are all children of the same universe.""



Freeman explained that while some people have found their god or deity, others haven't, and people must come together and search for something based on scientific evidence instead of biblical stories.



""What we (the University Life Church) are simply saying is that we need to search for an understanding,"" Freeman said.



It is free to become an ordained minister through the University Life Church website. Once ordained, ministers have access to a ministers' social network, a blog discussing social issues, and a ministerial training center.



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