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State Laws for Ministers

20-23 Order authorizing ministers to perform ceremony.

When a minister of any religious denomination shall produce before the circuit court of any county or city in this Commonwealth, or before the judge of such court or before the clerk of such court at any time, proof of his ordination and of his being in regular communion with the religious society of which he is a reputed member, or proof that he holds a local minister's license and is serving as a regularly appointed pastor in his denomination, such court, or the judge thereof, or the clerk of such court at any time, may make an order authorizing such minister to celebrate the rites of matrimony in this Commonwealth. Any order made under this section may be rescinded at any time by the court or by the judge thereof.

An important note here is that the registering judge is the one with authority to rescind marriage authority as once registered your authority is Statewide. A judge of another County may not remove authority as per law, and Commonwealth establishment. Further it should be noted that as Virginia is a registry state that allows each County to decide marriage authority you may need to step over to another County that has easier requirements, or create as we ordain, an actual local church of at least three members to satisfy law. Section 20-23 was found not to protect the rights of all churches based in the bias of various County officials. The establishment of your own church/ministry with a congregation of at least three is Federal guidelines which apply even to Virginia.

A 1974 ruling against the ULC created a basis of denial for other churches sharing faith by not requiring ministers to go through schools which have not real accreditation under Federal law. This ruling is used by various counties to limit you as a minister of a less traditional church. To offset this you need to complete proper establishment of your church ministry in Counties that choose to violate Federal law by placing improper demands. You may do so with limited funds, and limited effort. You create a church name, charter with the home church, register the new organization as a 508 church with your county.

Proper establishment will require setting aside space either in the home, or separate building where congregants may worship on a regular basis with you as minister. Establishing Articles of faith, bylaws of your church, and Doctrine of service in the church. You will need to show that though you work outside of the church often, that you are the full time minister on call to your membership, or an associate minister providing the same service. Though some county Judges argue training, you may argue that the Antioch Baptist church that has been authorized in that State primarily offers only distance training, and your organization provides the same already accepted requirements of the State.

The UM provides the training you need both in free direction as well as through training books, and approved ceremonies of the church. This discussion of training will be finally handled with the UM starting by May 1, 2009. Classes will be offered through real-time teaching online, as approved by the US Department of Education. Classes will encompass all fields of ministry with an authorized course Professor.
The goal of the UM is not to bypass the laws of our Nation, and states, but to work within them that we provide proper authority in all laws.
Once more, if your County does not accept the less traditional churches you may step across County lines, and or establish physically, and become a certified UM minister.


every person who officiates at a marriage ceremony shall certify to the facts of marriage and file the record in duplicate with the officer who issued the marriage license within five days after the ceremony. In the event such Officiant dies or becomes incapacitated before completing the certificate of marriage, the official who issued the marriage license shall complete the certificate of marriage upon the order of the court to which is submitted proof that the marriage was performed.

20-27 Fee for celebrating marriage.

Any person authorized to celebrate the rites of marriage shall be permitted to charge the parties a fee for the ceremony not to exceed thirty dollars for each ceremony. Additionally, such person shall be permitted to charge the parties travel expenses to and from the marriage site. If conveyance is by public transportation, reimbursement shall be at the actual cost thereof. If conveyance is by private transportation, reimbursement shall be at the rate specified in the current general appropriations act of the Commonwealth. In either event, the actual cost of the ceremony together with travel expenses shall be given to the parties at least three days prior to the marriage ceremony.

20-28. Penalty for celebrating marriage without license.

If any person knowingly perform the ceremony of marriage without lawful license, or officiate in celebrating the rites of marriage without being authorized by law to do so, he shall be confined in jail not exceeding one year, and fined not exceeding $500.

20-32. Penalty on clerks for neglect of duty.

If any clerk of a court or county clerk fail to perform any duty required of him under this chapter, he shall forfeit ten dollars for every such offense. Pay attention here folks. If you find a clerk arguing your legal authority you should present them with this regulation and remind them that this fine is a per occurrence fine. Each time they give you problems you will file charge against them. The clerk and not the office is liable for these fines.

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