This Rabbi For Hire Does Weddings, Funerals and Cruises

Some religious leaders have turned to freelance ministry by working events like weddings and funerals, which leaves them time to pursue other interests and causes.

By Joy DiazMarch 25, 2016 10:55 am,

It’s Good Friday and many Texans who aren’t otherwise church-goers may be making a special trip to their favorite religious establishment over the weekend for Easter. Leading the congregations there will likely be an ordained minister or two.

But not all ordained ministers lead a church or even hold what you might call a regular full-time job – they’re more like freelancers.

That’s what Rabbi Marie Betcher does and says she’s busier than ever. She works as a police and fire chaplain in Cedar Park, so she’s on call one week a month to go with police on death notices, to inform families of the death of their loved ones. Though her uniform has Stars of David on the lapel, she says she’s never had anyone refuse her. Betcher sometimes calls relatives and the family’s clergy on her police calls.

“When you’re in that darkest moment,” she says, “when I come in, I will pray with the family, whatever they need.”

She’s chosen freelance ministry so she can see her husband and support the causes she cares about, like shutting down puppy mills, during which she blesses the rescued pups.

“I have 17 weddings coming up in the next three months,” she says. “I am called for funerals, just a lot of life cycle events.”

Betcher has been on cruise ships as well, especially during holidays.

“Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Passover – I’ve done all of those,” she says. “You do all the services for the people on the ship. You can become as involved as you want to and it’s a very blessed thing because I get to meet people now from all over the community.”

Betcher is also an ordained cantor, so she can lead liturgical music as well as lead prayers and services.

Listen to the full interview and a snippet of Betcher singing in the audio player above.

* So this isn’t completely unheard of… a sort of freelancing minister — you work as I understand partly as a police chaplain — but do you think it’s easier in some ways to find work here and there as a minister now than it was in decades past?

* Tell me about some of the jobs you take on… I was surprised to hear about cruise trips?

* And you as I understand it are a particularly valuable hire because you can not only conduct a service… but also provide the music… can you tell me a little bit about that?

* Would you mind sharing some of your music with us — giving us a sample?