Independent sacramental movement

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The Independent Sacramental Movement (ISM) is a collection of sacramental Christian individuals and groups (and, depending on how one draws boundaries, some Christo-Pagans and Thelemites) who are not part of historic sacramental Christian denominations such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox churches. Many in the ISM originated in schisms from sacramental Christian denominations, and claim to preserve the historical episcopate or apostolic succession, though this claim by some of these churches would be seriously questioned,[why?] if not rejected,[why?] by the ecclesiastical authorities of Rome,[1] Constantinople, Union of Utrecht (Old Catholic), and Canterbury. The Union of Utrecht and some jurisdictions[which?] within the Anglican Communion have engaged in ecumenical conversation with some groups[which?] which could be included in the ISM.[according to whom?]

Most of the churches listed by ISM adherents as being part of the movement have no historic connection to the movement and share almost nothing with this movement other than apostolic succession. In addition, some churches or other groups which are structurally similar to each other but which do not claim apostolic succession have been claimed by ISM sources as part of their movement.[clarification needed (see talk)]

Groups within the ISM (often known as Independent Catholic, Old Catholic, Liberal Catholic, Autocephalous Orthodox, Free Sacramental,[further explanation needed] etc.) have a number of common characteristics:[according to whom?]

  • solitary clergy and small groups
  • centrality of the sacramental life (especially the Eucharist)
  • a mediatory priesthood mostly composed of volunteers
  • ordination potentially available to a significant percentage of the membership
  • experimentation in theology, liturgy, and/or church structure.[further explanation needed]

The term was popularized in 2005 by John Plummer, in The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement,[2] although it was used earlier, in 2002 by Richard Smoley, in Inner Christianity,[3] and perhaps first used in the mid-1970s by a short-lived cooperative organization called the Synod of Independent Sacramental Churches.[speculation?] ISM groups range from the broadly inclusive[example needed] (including marriage of same-sex couples and the ordination of women) to the socially conservative;[example needed] also from the traditionally orthodox to the esoteric, although the term is most commonly employed to refer to the liberal end of the spectrum. While the term "Independent Sacramental" originated as an etic description,[by whom?] it has been used increasingly as an emic self-description by members of some of these churches and groups.

Currently, just as within the new monasticism movement, interspiritual expressions are arising.

The Independent Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican Movement[edit]

The term is actually an expansion of an earlier term: The Independent Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican Movement. This earlier term was used extensively during many years when many of these groups cooperated, although they were not in formal communion with one another. The majority of these groups' holy orders and sequences of apostolic succession are derived through mutually common sources, especially Arnold Harris Mathew, Aftimios Ofiesh, Carlos Duarte Costa, and Joseph René Vilatte.


  1. ^ Paragargh 17 of
  2. ^ Plummer, John P. (2006) [2005]. The many paths of the independent sacramental movement: a national study of its liturgy, doctrine, and leadership (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press. ISBN 9780977146123.
  3. ^ Smoley, Richard (2002). Inner Christianity: a guide to the esoteric tradition. Boston, MA: Shambhala. ISBN 9781570628108.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bate, Alistair, ed. (2009). A Strange vocation: independent bishops tell their stories. Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press. ISBN 9781933993751.
  • Houston, Siobhán (2009). Priests, gnostics & magicians: European roots of esoteric independent Catholicism. Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press. ISBN 9781933993683.
  • Jones, Rob Angus (2010). Independent sacramental bishops: ordination, authority, lineage, and validity. Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press. ISBN 9781933993836.
  • Plummer, John P.; Mabry, John R. (2006). Who are the independent Catholics?: an introduction to the independent and Old Catholic churches. Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press. ISBN 9781933993003.
  • Plummer, John P. (2010). Living mysteries: a practical handbook for the independent priest (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press. ISBN 9781933993935.
  • Ward, Gary L.; Persson, Bertil; Bain, Alan, eds. (1990). "Independent Bishops". Independent bishops : an international directory. Detroit: Apogee Books. ISBN 155888307X.

External links[edit]