For the last few weeks and days, and right up to this morning, I've been hearing from people who were once ordained with Now Ministries and/or Church In The Now, who have questions about the current status of their credentials.
Usually these questions come when one of them is asked to perform a wedding ceremony, and they want to be assured that they are legally qualified to officiate in such a capacity. Others have started churches in other states, or are considering planting churches in their area, and they also have questions about legalities and status.
These are valid questions, and either Avery Price Rogers or I have personally addressed each one of them, but it may be beneficial to others if I just spell it out for every one here.
1. 'Now Ministries' was and is the umbrella covering for all who were ordained as pastors or ministers by me here in the USA, in the Philippines and in Uganda. From a legal standpoint it would be more accurate to refer to it as "JESM (Jim Earl Swilley Ministries) DBA 'Now Ministries'". JESM is the 501c3 NonProfit that was started in 1998 when I was consecrated as a Bishop with the ICCC. JESM still exists with its original Constitution and By-Laws and has a functioning Board of Directors . METRON is the name of our Community that meets every Sunday in Midtown, but the organization is registered in the State of Georgia as JESM, and recognized by the IRS as such, which is why those who support financially by check still write those checks to JESM, and not to METRON.
2. Those who were Care Pastors at CITN were technically ordained under Church In The Now, Inc. which was dissolved over a year ago, but because my bishopric included both CITN and Now Ministries, ordinations with both entities are still valid for those ministers who are still in good standing with me. I am currently on the College of Bishops with TFAM (The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries), but ordinations under me are still with JESM.
3. The majority of the ministers that I had ordained and covered over the years publicly disconnected from me when I came out five years ago, so those individuals are clearly no longer ordained with JESM, and obviously don't want to be. But those of you who have maintained a relationship, even if you do not attend METRON, can consider yourself still ordained if you need it for any reason. If you need a certificate, you can contact Avery, and you will only be charged for the clerical expenses of printing it, and for a card if you need it.
4. If you are performing a wedding ceremony in another state, you will need to contact the licensing office there to see if there are any other requirements. For example, I recently performed a wedding in Virginia, and had to take my credentials to the place where they issue licenses in that city and be sworn in there to be able to perform ceremonies in that state. That kind of thing is rare, but every state is different so you need to check for yourself.
5. If you're wanting to start a church, you will need to pursue getting your own 5013c NonProfit status for that. That's the legal part, and not part of what I do. But you can hold credentials with JESM as the pastor of that church if you so desire.
6. I'm in a really different flow now, so I no longer do the kind of ordination ceremonies that I used to do with a presbytery and the laying on of hands and prophecy, etc. I have absolutely no bitterness about this, but over the years I served too many communions and washed too many feet and poured too many thousands and thousands of dollars into pastors and church plants, and poured too much of my time and my life into "spiritual sons", only to have them all leave just because I told them that I'm gay. No regrets, but I'm just done with all that part of being a Bishop, and that's non-negotiable. There's a part of church life that is totally bogus, and I don't have room for it in my life any more...can't pretend I have covenant relationship with someone when I obviously don't... so please don't ask me to do that for you, because the answer will be no.
7. Bottom line, at this point in my life I have stripped away every part of church life that I no longer believe in, and have retained only the parts that I believe are truly authentic. Titles mean little or nothing to me now, but I do still function as a Bishop (which is simply an administrative title meaning "Pastor to Pastors"). And whether they call me their Bishop or not, a day doesn't pass that I'm not ministering to some minister somewhere in the world, maybe even more now than I did before all the transition. Many people, even at METRON, call me by my name and not my title, and that's fine with me. Most people use the nickname "Bish", and that's fine, as well. I maintain a place on the College of Bishops with TFAM mostly because of my profound respect for Bishop Flunder, but I'm in a very different place now with all things ecclesiastical. I love METRON and the people there who hear my voice every week, and am happy and content in my calling. When I minister in that theatre, I am the most myself that I have ever been. If you still consider me your "covering" or "Spiritual Father", I am honored, and I believe in you.
I hope this helped.
Love to all...