The State of Tennessee, which has had some of the strictest laws regarding who can serve as a Marriage Officiant to perform wedding ceremonies in the state, will enact a new and even tougher law that will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
The portion of the new law that is of particular interest to Marriage Officiants is Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 36-3-301(aX2), which has been amended by adding the following language at the end of the subdivision:
“Persons receiving online ordinations may not solemnize the rite of matrimony.”
How does Tennessee’s new law affect you if you received online ordination?
That depends entirely on how the state plans to enforce it – and the meaning of “online ordination.”
Previously, Tennessee simply required Officiants and ceremonial ministers to be ordained through “a considered, deliberate, and responsible act” by the church or religious organization performing the ordination.
However, the state also removed local county clerks from the process of having to determine whether the ordination was performed in a manner that was considered, deliberate, and responsible.
(County clerks in Tennessee are not permitted to rule on whether or not your ordination credentials are valid, and they are also not permitted to give legal advice or opinions.)
Tennessee’s new Officiant ordination law was written to specifically target two major “churches” that grant instant online ordination – that is, you go to their website, enter your name, hit a button and instantly print an “ordination certificate” off your computer screen, with no human interaction required.
If you were ordained by First Nation, our ordination process not only meets but exceeds both the previous Tennessee law and the new law that became effective on July 1, 2019.
Per our long-established guidelines, First Nation does not perform or allow online ordinations for marriage ceremonies in Tennessee – nor has it ever. Your ordination through First Nation remains legal and valid throughout Tennessee, and complies fully with all state and local laws.
When you apply for ordination through us – yes, you apply for ordination through our website, but you are not instantly ordained through the act of applying. Your request for ordination is reviewed by our staff, and then moved on to our board for final approval – a considered, deliberate, and responsible act.
If you are not currently ordained or are concerned about the validity of your ordination and wish to perform marriage ceremonies in Tennessee, please visit our Tennessee ordination page to apply for your minister’s license.
Have a question about your ordination status in Tennessee or elsewhere? Please contact us!