Universal life church wallet id

Officiating my first wedding. Report and ceremony text.


Shocked a few months ago was I, when an old friend asked me to marry him. I’ve included my ceremony below. The most interesting part of the experience is that while the ordainment was trivial, I found that I was pulled by duty, pushed by the bride and groom to became very involved in not only the ceremony’s design, but the couple’s relationship and future.

Universal Life Church wallet ID card

Universal Life Church wallet ID card

I knew legal ordainment was not an issue. The Universal Life Church has been ordaining instantly since the 1959. First via mail order, now on the Net. The ordainment cost is free, but it costs a few bucks to get an  ID wallet card, framed certificate, or even a “Clergy” parking or press pass (not sure what legal rights this gives you, but others won’t be sure either.). I have two uncles in the ULC since the 1960s. They did it to marry friends too. At the wedding I met four other ULC folks! All relayed that they too always take the role very seriously and it’s a lot of work.

My friend is married now. It was terrifying for me! But also one the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done. The bride and groom and I became a triad of support. We looked at each other a lot, for strength in the face of the 100+ guests starting at us, and to help us with the seriousness of the commitments begin made and the emotions flooding. I made a few mistakes, but nothing serious. People could here me in the back, and it was “funny, philosophical, a little unexpected” and under 30 minutes – all goals of the bride and groom.

Here’s the ceremony that the bride, groom and myself created over several weeks. I’ve changed their names and taken out their vows.

Wedding Ceremony


Caleb under Chuppah, wedding party walks in, bride last.


Caleb: Hello! Welcome. My name is Caleb Clark. Thank you for coming. I have known Jane since she and Joe met. Joe and I first met when we worked together in 2002. I am deeply honored to officiate their wedding. While my legal ordainment required only a few trivial clicks, the honor is anything but trivial.

We are gathered here today in support of Jane and Joe uniting as a couple in the bonds of marriage. In the chaos of everyday life, weddings are a most humanistic gathering. This ancient and instinctual ritual is a common thread across cultures and religions.  Weddings bring out our better nature; community, family, love and commitment. We are here to support, to witness, to give Jane and Joe a good kickstart on the adventure that is marriage.

And what an adventure! Here, today, thanks to Jane and Joe, we are spared of many of the bizarre wedding traditions that have developed over the millennia. For example, groups throughout history that have been barred from marrying, had to invent undetectable ceremonies, such as jumping over a broom. No brooms here today. In some cultures the bride and groom change not only religions, but clothes, during the ceremony. Only one dress here. Some folks have naked weddings, which, despite the weather,  I myself am thankful we’re not doing, as I’m sure you are. Grooms in some places have to give gold to everyone present, sadly not happening here. There is no dowry for back dues for mother’s milk today, and fathers will not be made to loudly repeat their approval while in a public square. Wild geese, while wonderful creatures, will not be exchanged here. We will not spend 3 hours on temporary tattoos. Our Hebrew skills will not be tested. The smell of burning of flax spindles is absent, and thank the gods above, there will be no required Lord of the Dance.

What we will have today is a ceremony and wedding designed completely by Jane and Joe, right down to this chuppa we are standing under. Today they start a lifetime of working together as a loving team. By the looks of it, things are off to a great start. As an old friend of Joe’s, I would like to take the liberty of starting off the readings-by-friends part of this wedding.


Caleb: Joe and I supported each other through the single years. Our long walks in the park saved us thousands of dollars on therapy. When Joe met Jane, we walked and talked as their relationship found its path. As the path revealed its destination as here, peace and happiness slowly replaced wandering and wondering. Our walks became less frequent. Since their engagement, when Joe and I call each other, sometimes the other answers with “is anything wrong?” almost wishing it were so.  But nothing is wrong, and it’s mostly Jane’s fault. I have grown to trust and love Jane, and I have seen the strength and kindness in their relationship. I am glad she will now be walking with Joe in the park.

Jane has chosen her sister, and Joe has chosen his good friend, to read a poem written by the bridal party for them.


(Table needed for house model pieces made by Joe. Music plays.)
Caleb: This Chuppah,  built by Joe and Family, is an ancient symbol of the home Jane and Joe will live in. The walls are open on all sides to symbolize welcoming and hospitality. There is no furniture here. This is to remind us that the most valuable things in a home are not things at all, but the people who live there.

Now, to extend this symbol of home to the coming together of their two families, Jane and Joe have designed a home that needs building.

  1. Mothers build foundation.
  2. Fathers build wall.
  3. Jane and Joe put the roof on.


Caleb: Jane and Joe have been inspired by a wonderful Tradition from the Quaker religion. Those among you who feel moved to speak, please stand now. We will move left to right of the dealer, starting with

(Caleb points to the first person standing to his left).

Community Vow

(1 minute, call and response)
We will now ask you to bless this wedding with a community vow. Please repeat after me.

  • We promise to provide
  • love and support,
  • guidance and wisdom,
  • and the occasional brunch,
  • to Jane and Joe
  • throughout their lives together.

Jane & Joe Speeches

Jane and Joe will now take a moment to share their thoughts.
First Jane, then Joe

Jane & Joe Vows

Caleb: Marriage vows are sacred and ancient . Religions bless marriages, and governments recognize them as a legal construct, but what is far more important is what Jane and Joe want to promise to each other. As such, they have written their own vows.

Caleb: Reads each line
First Jane, then Joe

  • [Deleted. Every couple’s vows are their own. These were very simple, short and meaningful, about seven lines. My own vows were longer, and we had prints to read from.]


Caleb: The rings you are about to share are a symbol of union, earth and peace. Your lives are about to be joined in an unbroken circle. Wherever you go, these rings will go with you.

First Jane, then Joe

Caleb: Jane Full Name, do you take Joe Full Name to be your lawfully wedded husband? (I do)
Please place the ring on Joe’s finger.

Joe Full Name, do you take Jane Full Name to be your lawfully wedded wife?
(I do)
Please place the ring on Jane’s finger.

Glass Breaking
Caleb: The breaking of the glass is a Jewish tradition that reminds us that every relationship is fragile, and requires gentleness and kindness. Jane, Joe, please step forward and break the glass!
[ Break glass ]
Caleb: May your relationship last as long as it would take to put these pieces of glass back together!

Pronouncement & Kiss

Caleb: And now…by the authority vested in me by the State of New York… and those here today….I pronounce you Husband and Wife!. You may now seal the deal with a kiss!

Thank You & Instructions

Caleb: Please join us on the lawn for appetizers and drinks. Let the celebration begin!

The ULC main tenants are:

“‘Do only that which is right.’ Every person has the natural right (and the responsibility) to peacefully determine what is right. We are advocates of religious freedom. The Universal Life Church wants you to pursue your spiritual beliefs without interference from any outside agency, including government or church authority. You may become a legally ordained ministerfor life, without cost, and without question of faith.” – www.ulc.net, August 2012.

Caleb's Keys To Life


In progress – forever.

Recipe for success

  • Practice
  • Communication
  • Diet
  • Excersise

I used to always loose my keys to my life. I would think of some great truth, usually after an epic fail, and then I’d forget it a few weeks later when I needed it.  Now, I publish my keys to life here, my trials and errors, watchings and mullings, fallings and flailings.

Know thyself and lots of other people. This extension of Thales’ quote “Know Thyself” came to me years ago and I like it. It’s similar to that annoyingly true saying about excepting what you can’t change and changing what you can, but it’s more fun and social. When I keep in touch with myself, and also a lot of other people, life is better.

Practice isn’t always a good idea, because it always works. I get better at what I practice, including bad things! I think others are like that too. I’ve met people who are really good at getting angry, because they do it all the time. I’ve been good at being depressed, and I better the more I did it. Also, what I practice I have noticed I sometimes get paid to do. So as a movie Grip once told me, “never carry leather gloves on the movie set unless you want to coil a lot of cables.”

Attraction is power. Beautiful young people who have not been trained to deal with this power are like a lottery winner who has no training in how to manage money.

We are visual beings. If I dress like a bum in a city where nobody knows me, I’ll be treated like a bum. However I choose too look, I need to understand what that look will likely make people think and be at peace with it.

Be kind and strong. I like myself more when I’m kind to those around me, but at the same time I’m nobody’s fool, and not one who is easy to take advantage or manipulate. Most of all, I need to be kind and strong with myself, because my mind is like all minds, powerful and willy.

I feel better if I stretch more, and drink more water, as I get older.

Technology. Restart. When faced with most any technology problem, check the cables and completely turn off and turn on the machine. Then, pretend you’re a doctor and your technology is your patient. Be a good doctor. Ask a lot of questions. Listen. Go over the history and details one more time. I’m a natural geek, so I try to not to give up on a patient. That’s really the only difference between “computer people” and others. Geeks give up less than others. They believe they can solve the problem, and that failure after failure is just part of the process.

Find good professionals.  I will eventually need the services of a car mechanic, doctor, lawyer, banker, dentist and counselor. Therefore, I should get very good at finding the few good ones out there who are really good at their jobs, honest, and truly professional. Professionals are just like most of us I think. We’re mostly in the middle, with some very good, and very bad, people on the edges. My goals is find the good professionals, hopefully before I need them.

Focus on natural motivation, in myself and others. Glide with your gut, finish with faith. I’ve noticed, and friends have told me, that when I do projects driven by excitement, exploration, curiosity, passion, love, everything is better. When I follow power, money, fame, attention, I get lost. Happy rich people I think follow passion too, they just were lucky their passions made money, or  that their passion was the actual act of making money. This is nuanced though, because I have found small crumbs of power, money and fame from projects I’ve done. The trick is I did them because I was driven to for positive reasons, not needy, greedy reasons.  Find people like this to work with too from dentists to car mechanics, and your car and teeth will benefit. I can see even going after only money being other people’s passion too. The most annoying people are the one’s who made a lot of money before they “woke up” and are now on the lecture circuit preaching a different path that involves going after something else besides just money, but they don’t say how to do it if you didn’t have your own trust fund to begin with.

Overeating is a bad put into my head by the sad parts of my brain. It soothes, but it wares off fast and leaves me loogy and dull. My brain is very very good at making me forget this.

I will die. Looking around, this seems like a common end to life. I will likely be very old longer then I think.  I will probably get sick for years before I die. These things also seem very common. I’ve noticed those who seem happiest in their old age prepared for it and faced reality eye to eye. They changed what they could and didn’t try and change what they couldn’t. They focused where the could go, not where they would never go. They knew when to sell the old house because it was sapping their funds. They changed while they were making money, not after. Retirement and resting homes are as bad as I think they are. There are good ones to find if I believe they exist. I will remember to try and form a retirement community of good people before I’m too senile too. I will remain flexible and I will listen carefully with an open mind to what younger people tell me.

How-To: Life Coaching

A walking bridge in New England covered with fall leavesBy Caleb John Clark, 1995 What life coaching is, how to find a coach, what to expect from a coach, and some things I went through while being coached. This how-to comes from working with life coach Matthew Fincher. Life coaching is about hiring someone to help you live the life you want. I think of it like a good coach I had in high school, you might have had one too. You know, the the one who respected you, challenged you, and was totally behind you succeeding and doing your best, as long as you were a good team player. So to me, life coaches are about helping you play the game of life to your full potential. Generally speaking I think life coaching is an integration and evolution of career counseling and psychotherapy, but it’s more action oriented for all aspects of your life, from work to relationships to health. Life coaching is also seems to me to be a response to a need that has developed as the nature of professional type work changes. People are realizing more and more that money and security are not all they are cracked up to be, that you can make money, give and take love, and also add to the mix the ability to follow your unique purpose in life and discover your own personal power that comes from following your instincts and intuition. Life coaching is a young profession, so relying on credentials can be tricky. Often life coaches are trained as therapists or other councilor types. Or they may not have any formal training. There are some organization that are granting credentials, but often a great coach won’t have any. Either way, look for a good reputation in the community and experience in similar fields or in coaching. If someone is just starting out, you might be able to get a good rate, but make sure they are working under someone who is experienced and reputable. Life coaching is likely to keep increasing in popularity because it is responding to a need in the market. Hopefully Universities and Colleges will start to provide degrees and credentials that are consistent in quality so that credentials start to have more meaning and training can be based on a canon of knowledge and pull from psychology’s rich history of scientific knowledge and studies. Why I got a coach I was between computer consulting contracts working on some of my own projects when my roommate got a life coach. He would tell me about his homework and it sounded pretty exciting. One day I met his coach, Matthew Fincher, at a cafe and he gave me an impromptu sample session around some issues I was having with a woman I’d recently fallen in love with. I was also wondering what I was going to do and where I wanted to live next, when my money ran out. I loved his style, which was active and direct, but still let me do the work. And I especially liked Matthew because he was a former computer consultant and he understood my world. So I followed my instincts that it would be a good time to get some help from someone who could coach me on what do to and hold me accountable, but I felt I wanted more active and direct help, vs. therapy which I’d been in and felt complete with, for the moment. So we started once a week and the work began. How-to find a life coach The best way to find a coach is to talk to someone who had a good experience with one. You can also find a life coach by looking in the phone book or internet under therapists or career councilors. Here’s a good site to start a Web search at: International Coaches Federation Sample Sessions Once you find a coach, request a sample session. Most good life coaches will meet you the first time at a reduced rate. What you’re looking for is chemistry, trust, respect, etc. Just like any relationship really. Follow your instincts and don’t settle for something that doesn’t feel right. Example ProcessLife Coaching should be a process and there are lots of different processes. Matthew has developed his own 4 step process which I’ll outline here. This may take from three months to a year or more. You could stop whenever you wanted of course, but ideally you’d get into #3 and #4 for a few cycles.

  1. Authentic = Acknowledgement: You meet and your coach gets to know you. You may go over your resume, childhood, etc. You dive into what is now. Who you are and what you are doing right now. What are your issues, blocks, problems, successes, etc. Your coach may read your resume. You get real comfortable with the reality of you now and do some work on habits, patterns, and ways of thinking that might be holding you back and self-sabotaging your efforts.
  2. Clarity=Declaration: You work to define your purpose in life. A short general statement that describes who you are and what you do is crafted. You fill in the blanks of “I am the blank that blanks” for example, or craft a mission statement.
  3. Intention=Mission: You plan out ways to live your purpose and a mission to go on to get there
  4. Action=Results: You plan actions for certain results and your coach holds you accountable for them.

#3 and #4 then loop and repeat with your coach helping you from the sidelines. My Process I’m not going to get too personal here, but I’ll give some examples of things I did that helped me and I found interesting. Matthew and I met and went over my resume and upbringing to start and and I filled in this questionnaire:

  1. What do you want to get from coaching?
  2. If you could wave a magic wand and change anything in your life, what would it be?
  3. What has to happen for you to know coaching has benefited your life?
  4. If you trusted me enough to tell me how to support you most effectively, what tips would you give me?
  5. What are the three most important things in your life right now?
  6. When you are most stuck, what would I say to you that will support you in connecting to your power?
  7. What are you naturally good at doing or being? What is easy for you?
  8. What would your closest friends say are your best abilities?
  9. What are some of your favorite things, places and people?
  10. What else would you like to share about yourself?

As I progressed through the process I was surprised what came up. At first anger surfaced in terms of my relationships. Then some “characters” emerged from within my head that were not helping me out. For example, I found a very good “judge” in me that tends to, well, judge. But he doesn’t do much else except be critical. I also spent a week or so on a “Hippie kid” that runs around in the shadows of my mind, popping put to be rebellious and say things like “I don’t know what I want to do” or “I don’t have to do anything” which are counter productive. Matthew had a good quote here I wrote down:

“Integrate the hippie kid. Get complete with the judge. Transcend them both, And step into your soul.”

After each session there would be homework assigned. Some examples of homework were: – Find examples of people who do something you respect and are attracted to for a living. – Observe feelings of anger. Physical and emotional. Write it down. – Make a sign by bed, on a cell phone display, or in car that says: “What am I angry about?” – Call Matthew every day for 30 seconds or less, anytime 24/7 and leave a message reciting your declaration of self. My most salient work came out of Matthew step #2: Declaration. Over a three week period we worked to fill in the “blanks” in this sentence: “I am the blank that blanks.” I went through many drafts, but ended up at: “I am the communicator that helps humanity.” After trying it on for a few months now, I like it. It grounds me but provides flexibility in terms of details and careers. Incidentally, Matthew is, “The voice that integrates,” and I think my mother would be “I am the teacher that educates children,” since she’s a 35 year public school teacher. Matthew and I worked from there on achieving goals (one of them being this site) with him being my coach and holding me accountable. We’re currently still in process working on actions and intentions. Life coaching was very useful to me, but I was ready to actively change my life and I’d been in therapy, so I don’t think I was looking for that, which would be a mistake unless your life coach is specifically trained to be a licensed therapist. And beware of life coaching as a “quick fix.” Real change takes time and energy and is often a challenging process. I believe the discipline needs to continue to become more academically and scientifically rigorous and I hope it will so it can improve its reputation. Eventually I see becoming a life coach to be similar to becoming a licensed therapist. More Info.

  1. Great Book!: “Zen and the Art of Making A Living”
  2. International Coaches Federation
  3. Wikipedia Definition with Link