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The ULC was founded in under the name "Life Church" by the Reverend Kirby J. Hensley, and operated out of his garage. Disappointed with the Pentecostal church, Hensley decided to venture on his own to find his religion. After five years of studying various religions, according to his own statements, Hensley concluded that the proper religion may differ for each man, and everyone is entitled to choose his or her own religion. No one should be criticized or condemned for wanting to practice the belief of his or her choice.
In 1959, Hensley, with the help of his new wife, Lida, moved to Modesto, California and founded the first Universal Life Church as "Life Church", later incorporating with the State of California on the 2nd May 1962 as "Universal Life Church" with Co-Founder & then Vice President Lewis Ashmore. Hensley served as the minister of the congregation and President of the Board of Directors until his death in 1999, at which time there were many independent branches of the ULC worldwide. They took out their first ad in "FATE magazine" to reach the metaphysical community. The Modesto congregation grew rapidly over the years. The Church spread throughout the West Coast, and today claims to have congregations located all over the United States and parts of Canada and many other parts of the world. The organization also claims to have a membership of 22 million ULC ministers worldwide.
During the 1960s and 1970s, many people became ministers in the ULC because they believed that being a minister either would help keep them from being drafted into military service during the Vietnam War or would enable them to get income tax relief as members of the clergy. Both of these beliefs have always been false, as merely being ordained does not exempt one from being drafted and ministers as individuals receive no tax benefit; only churches themselves are tax exempt. Ministers do have the option of applying for exemption from social security taxes. However, once one has opted out of social security, one is never again allowed to receive social security benefits. Also, this exemption applies only to ministers whose income actually comes from religious services and applies only to such income.
Upon Reverend Kirby Hensley's death, his wife Lida Hensley was elected and served as President until her death in 2006. On January 14, 2007, the ULC's Board of Directors elected the Hensleys' son Andre Hensley as President. Andr¿ had previously been the office manager of the Headquarters, running the day-to-day business of the Church.
Dedicated ULC members state that they truly believe in freedom of religion. In other words, they want every member to be able to pursue their own spiritual beliefs without interference from the government, church agencies, or any other outside agency. Their one creed (or doctrine) is