I’ve shared here previously about the process of becoming a certified celebrant that I’ve been pursuing the past couple years. Originally I embarked on this online course of study through Global Ministries University as a complement to the work I wanted to do offering birth retreats based on the content of my book, Embodying the Sacred. But the course addressed rites of passage of all kinds, and the idea of being legally qualified to officiate at weddings appealed to me. By itself the celebrant certificate does not meet Ohio’s requirement to be licensed or ordained by a religious society or congregation in order to preside at weddings, so I applied for commissioning through the Federation of Christian Ministries, which involved answering questions, writing essays and asking several people to submit recommendations. My acceptance came this week in the form of the beautiful certificate pictured here, a copy of which I will send to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office with the minister license application. Up to this point, the commissioning seemed rather a formality, but I found the certificate’s wording surprisingly moving:
“We certify that Peg Conway is authorized to function as a minister in the Christian church, to proclaim the Gospel, assemble the community, and support human service. We recognize by this document, the education, training, character, and charism of this minister.”
Very affirming! I’m looking forward to attending a national assembly of the the Federation of Christian Ministries this summer in Cleveland. The organization has been around since 1968 but seems tailor-made for today’s circumstances, particularly with the growth of independent Catholic communities. From their website:
The Federation of Christian Ministries (FCM) has its roots in the Vatican II era that affirmed the primary identity of the Church as the pilgrim people of God and embraced a dialogue with the modern world.
In 1968 the Society of Priests for a Free Ministry (SPFM) began to give voice to priests looking for church reform, especially for optional celibacy.
In 1973 SPFM changed its name to Fellowship of Christian Ministries (FCM) reflecting the growing interest in small communities of faith as a more ecumenical and professional religious organization with its own certification program in ministry.
FCM acknowledged that each Christian has a charism to share, and that certification or recognition of that charism can have a public and civil dimension as well as an ecclesial aspect in preaching, presiding at liturgies, witnessing marriages, conducting funerals and providing pastoral and spiritual care as chaplains.
In 1981 FCM became the Federation of Christian Ministries to include people of various religious traditions, and to affirm women as equals and partners in ministry. FCM had diversified its membership through the Committee on Denominational Concerns and allowed for a variety of interfaith expressions in community, ministry and worship.
Today FCM is a Faith Group member of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc. (ACPE) and is listed in the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. FCM has a process called Endorsement for Specialized Ministry for commissioned members seeking employment in chaplaincy or clinical pastoral work. It has a national Circle of Directors, a bimonthly FCM Newsletter, holds a national assembly annually and offers continuing education and bachelors to doctoral degrees through Global Ministries University.