Ordination gives official, religious authority and rights to ministers. Maryland law requires any individual wishing to minister to worshipers, establish a church, counsel individuals or perform ceremonies be ordained.
To be ordained, individuals interested in becoming a minister must attend seminary school. Admittance into seminary school requires recommendations. Many schools require essays from applicants describing their faith prior to admittance along with official transcripts from other schools attended.
Ordination can take several years, given the requirement to attend seminary school. While there are faster, online alternatives to traditional ordination, they are often not recognized and have limitations that impact what an individual can perform as a minister.
There are many degrees one can choose from to serve as a minister. Some degrees are bachelor's of biblical studies or of theology, and master of divinity. Other degrees are available depending on the denomination and duration of study.
In 2005, Maryland changed its law allowing any adult to be referred to as clergy for weddings as long as the wedding couple calls the officiant a clergy. To perform weddings, the officiant must be ordained or a judge.