It began with the vision of one man, Rev. Kirby Hensley (July 23, 1911 - March 19, 1999). This vision was of a physical organization, a physical church that stood for, and upheld, the freedom and basic religious, moral, and legal rights of its individual members, ministers, and congregations. These individual members, ministers, and congregations would be free to exercise their own personal spiritual convictions, or beliefs, as long as they did not interfere with the same rights of others. This vision became a reality in the 1950's with the formation of the Universal Life Church with its International Headquarters in Modesto, California. From its modest beginnings, the Universal Life Church now has members, ministers, and congregations, around the world, standing for, and upholding these principles. The sun never sets on the Universal Life Church. Its members come from all walks of life and spiritual traditions.
Manzanita Hensley Lowarch, a daughter of Rev. Kirby Hensley, wrote:
"Traditionally, what do we expect from our church? We expect unity, a social network, a teacher of moral values, a forum for the exchange of ideas, a champion for the needy and downtrodden, a safe haven for all who enter, and (we hope) the truth. My church, the Universal Life Church, is all that, and more! On our letterhead you will find the phrase, "We Are One." We are one. We are one people united in our quest for religious freedom. We are united in our fierce defense of the First Amendment that we, too, are entitled to worship our God in our own way." (Universal Book)Being established on these basic freedoms and rights, the Universal Life Church International Headquarters does not interpret or set in judgment of a persons beliefs, creed, religion, race, color, or sex. It has only two tenets, doctrines, or basic beliefs. These are:
The first tenet is in complete agreement with the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America which states that:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof: Or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."The second tenet is also the essence and spirit of the Golden Rule in the Bible:
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Matt. 7:12).The Universal Life Church has thousands of independent congregations and ministers and all are parts of the one church, like the hand and eye are parts of the body.
Its congregations are integral - not separable, parts of the Universal Life Church. They are parts in a sense only, for they are the physical manifestations of the church. It is the purpose of the church which sets the limits which our creativity works within. That work is: separating our purpose into functions and determining what the shape and sense of the parts - our congregations - need be. What they need be to fulfill our purpose. [adapted from the Universal Book]
A major purpose, or function, of the Universal Life Church International Headquarters is the Legal Ordination of ministers. The Universal Life Church is a recognized International organization and has fought many court battles through the years (and winning) to insure the legal rights of independent churches and ministers. The Universal Life Church stands between the minister and the government and not between the minister and God. The Universal Life Church believes that its ministers were ordained by God, according to the Bible, before becoming ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church. This is in accordance with the Scripture,
After being ordained by the Universal Life Church, its ministers are free to carry on their ministry as they feel God directs them. They are authorized to perform all religious services including the rites of marriage and baptism. They have all the legal rights of any minister of any church or religious organization.
"For ye have not chosen me but I have chosen you
and ordained you before the foundation of the earth."
There is an old story about the hospital being a place for sick people, a school a place for the uneducated. Well, our church opens wide its arms to encompass all who might enter. We are equal. There are no big 'I's' and little "you's". We can all enter and are alI respected.
Our congregations are integral - not separable, parts of the Universal Life Church. They are parts in a sense only, for they are the physical manifestations of the church. it is the purpose of the church which sets the limits which our creativity works within. That work is: separating our purpose into functions and determining what the shape and sense of the parts - our congregations - need be. What they need be to fulfill our purpose.
And, of course, a church - congregation - is people, not a building. As members of a ULC congregation, you are member of the one church. Remember: You are in the Universal Life Church.
The church recognizes all people, regardless for their beliefs, age, tradition, creed, or nationality.
We have grown to exist and have people from many different countries around the world. We do accept people from all walks of life and from all religions. Conservative and liberals. You can belong to another church and also belong to the Universal Life Church - as long as you do that which is right and that it doesn't effect the rights of others. This is why we are a Universal Life Church.
The ordained minister is the single most important unit of the church. Without the minister we would be unable to spread the word of freedom! We exist because of, and for, the minister. We will ordain anyone without question of their faith, for life, and without a fee, however, we do graciously accept any donations
Therefore, we give you a Ministers Credential, making you an ordained minister of the state and government. This gives you all the rights of the Federal Governments and the States. There are many ceremonies that take place in churches. But, that is all they are, is ceremonies. They have no authority or power with the federal government or the state.
If you have been ordained by the Universal Life Church and have the Ministers Credentials with the state seal and the President's signature on it, then as far as you and the state is concerned, you are a legal ordained minister.
The minister is by definition a servant. The minister exists to serve himself, his congregation, the church, and his God. He is an agent administrating the duties and functions of his church.
The minister should be compassionate, loving, and trustworthy. The responsibility of church administration rests on his shoulders. The minister must be able to weep with those that weep and rejoice with those rejoicing. He should strive to be an able leader, to promote spiritual growth and happiness within the congregation.
Every minister needs to have some knowledge of the legal rules and principles concerning the relationship of church and state in the United States. This understanding and application of the rules and principles will greatly help to serve, with commendable distinction, the parishioners and community.
When you are a Minister of the Universal Life Church, it is incumbent upon you to perform the Sacerdotal functions of the ministry, i.e., Marry, Bury, Baptize, and hold meetings to satisfy the needs of the congregation (if you have a congregation). If anyone tells you that you do not have to do these functions, you are being deceived ...
The ULC believes that he/she is an ordained minister of God, according to the Bible. In St. John 15:16 it says that God called you and has ordained you. The Universal Life Church believes this scripture to be true.
The Universal Life Church does not interpret or set in judgement of your beliefs, creed, religion, race, color, or sex.
The Universal Life Church has many churches in people's homes all around the world. Many big churches in the country have started out in a home and then moved to big church buildings.
A church in a home is just as real and legal as any big church on any corner in town. It should receive the same treatment and privileges as any other. If it has a group of 3 or more people, the Universal Life Church honors it as a church and will speak out for that church.
Today, we see the schools breaking up. Many people are now teaching their own children in their own homes. There are several church groups who meet in homes all over the country. The people of the Universal Life Church meet in homes, but, we also have big church buildings and store fronts.
Remember, a church isn't the building, the church is the people. Wherever the people are, they are a church.