O is for Ordained: students use their voice for Christ

Bowling Green senior Chad Winston leads a Bible study before preaching at Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Brownsville, which is the only African American church in Edmonson County. Winston was ordained about a year-and-a-half ago. “I know how it is to be young, and us as young people need more guides than ever,” Winston said. “Tomorrow isn’t a promise. I feel why wait till the next day or when I’m older to do a task for God when I can do it now. Never put off or wait to do something because it could be too late.”

Zirconia Alleyne

Log on, click and become ordained.

There may be a few more clicks involved, but McDaniels senior Joshua Horton said becoming a minister was really that simple at themonastery.org.

“It’s a funny concept that you can get ordained online,” he said. “You don’t have to go through this big, expensive monastery to be ordained.”

As a child, Horton attended Mass with an older couple from his neighborhood.

He applied for diocese when he was 18 but decided after being accepted that priesthood wasn’t his calling.

He said even though he didn’t want to be a priest, he still wanted to get ordained.

“I wanted to do something that was quick and free so I could still concentrate on school,” he said.

Horton became an ordained minister through the Universal Life Church Monastery last October.

The ULC is an online institution that ordains ministers, rabbis, priests and clergymen from a range of religious faiths at no cost.

Upon ordination, ministers can perform weddings, funerals, baptisms or even start a church.

Horton is one of 63 WKU students who became ordained ministers as of Dec. 2011, according to Andy Fulton of themonastery.org.

Horton said he mainly wants to perform weddings for his friends.

“I would marry heterosexuals or homosexuals if they love each other,” he said.

Horton believes God didn’t intend for ordination to be complicated.

“Even though it’s five minutes, it’s completely legal by the state,” he said.

The ULC is ridiculed because of its instant process. Even television comedian Conan O’Brien mocked the website on his late-night talk show. The ULC features the video on its homepage.

Despite the criticism, Horton stands behind his decision to get ordained on the site.

“There’s a spiritual ordination put on by God,” he said. “It’s not the world’s decision of who’s ordained.”

Hopkinsville senior Ernest Simmons said his own family noticed his spiritual calling at a very young age.

He felt it, too, but wasn’t ready to embrace it.

“I ran from my calling for two years,” he said. “I didn’t accept it until I was 14.”

With the help of his pastor, Simmons prepared to preach at his church, Bethel Berry Missionary Baptist.

He delivered his first sermon in front of a packed congregation.

After the initial nervousness and excitement subsided, he said preaching came to be second nature.

“It was a feeling I never felt before,” he said. “God was speaking through me.”

Simmons wanted to continue preaching during college and joined Eleventh Street Baptist Church in Bowling Green.

He also got involved on campus and pledged Iota Phi Theta fraternity.

Simmons said it hasn’t been hard for him to maintain his faith while being a college student.

“Accepting my calling at a young age, I never really got into the party scene,” he said.

Bowling Green senior Chad Winston likes to go out with his friends but knows his boundaries as a minister.

“Occasionally, I party, but I don’t stay the whole time like I used to,” he said.

Even as a minister, Winston still wants to be relatable to his peers.

Simmons said he thinks that being a young minister is a blessing.

“It gives me the opportunity to talk to my generation about things they wouldn’t feel comfortable going to an older minister about,” he said.

However, being a young minister doesn’t come without scrutiny.

Horton knows he can’t officiate at a Catholic Church, but he still stands firm as an ordained minister.

He said he gets his openness as a minister from God.

“I won’t agree with those ministers who say I’m too young or not ordained,” he said. “Jesus was a carpenter, and he achieved great things.”