Cover Story

Blessings all around: When my parishioner got ordained online

Our wedding issue also includes B. J. Hutto on truth-telling about Christian weddings, Steve Thorngate on the very liturgical wedding, and Celeste Kennel-Shank on the challenges of interfaith weddings.

It was the kind of voice mail that gives a pastor pause. Allison didn’t quite sound like she was in crisis, but as she requested a call back I could tell that something was bothering her. After a day of phone tag she caught me at home. By that time my concern and curiosity had escalated, so I set down my onion and chopping knife to take the call.

There was no crisis, but there was a conundrum. Close friends of Allison were getting married. They had asked her husband to be the best man in the wedding, and—in a far more surprising invitation—they asked Allison to officiate at the ceremony. She was honored, flattered, and profoundly uncomfortable. She’d accepted the invitation on the spot, assuming that there must be some sort of process in place for a person who is neither a judge nor a clergyperson to obtain credentials to perform weddings.