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Independent sacramental movement

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The independent sacramental movement (ISM) refers to a loose collection of individuals and Christian denominations which are not part of the historic sacramental Christian denominations embodying catholicity (such as the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Anglican churches) and yet continue to practice the historic sacramental rites independently.[1]

The term was used in 2005 by John Plummer, in The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement,[2] and was used earlier, in 2002, by Richard Smoley in his Inner Christianity.[3]



The movement's name is 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. It remains difficult to define the ISM as an entity and to distinguish it from the closely related Independent Catholic movement; the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, seemingly to refer to the same reality.[4]: 152 



Many denominations within the movement originated from schisms with the historic sacramental Christian denominations, and they claim to have preserved the historic episcopate or apostolic succession,[1] though such claims are frequently disputed or rejected outright by the historic churches of Rome, Constantinople, the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches, and the Church of England.[5][6][4]: 202–208 

Groups within the independent sacramental movement are alternatively known as Independent Catholic, "Old Catholic" (though not to be confused with the Union of Utrecht of Old Catholic Churches), Liberal Catholic, Autocephalous Orthodox, Free Sacramental, or, sometimes pejoratively, as micro-churches, parallel churches, or episcopi vagantes in the case of their bishops.[7][4]: 152 

See also



  1. ^ a b Plummer, John. "The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement". University of California Press. Newt Books. Retrieved 1 March 2021. One relatively underreported segment of the incredible spiritual mosaic which is Western religious life today is the large number of small independent churches of sacramental, Catholic style and practice. Mostly of Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic derivation and character, they emphasize the importance of the sacraments, and generally claim authentic apostolic succession.
  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.
  4. ^ a b c Jarvis, Edward (2018). God, Land & Freedom: The True Story of ICAB. Berkeley CA: The Apocryphile Press. ISBN 978-1-949643-02-2.
  5. ^ Paragraph 17 of Dominus Iesus
  6. ^ "Universalist Orthodox Church celebrates inclusion". The Blade. Archived from the original on July 17, 2019. Retrieved 2021-02-15. It would fall to her, then, she decided. She sought a bishop to ordain her in the Independent Sacramental Movement, a network of self-sustaining faith communities that operate outside the structures of mainstream churches, but that retain the same apostolic succession of these same mainstream churches. As with the Rev. Bingle, the mainstream church hierarchies generally do not recognize the ordinations of clergy in the Independent Sacramental Movement, even though the lineages of these clergy – who ordained whom ordained whom ordained whom – can be traced back to the same foundational ministers.
  7. ^ "Independent episcopal churches - Les églises épiscopales et autonomes". ecumenism.net. Retrieved 2020-12-25.

Further reading

  • 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.
  • Jarvis, Edward (2018). God, Land & Freedom: The True Story of ICAB. Berkeley CA: The Apocryphile Press. ISBN 978-1-949643-02-2.
  • Jarvis, Edward (2018). Sede Vacante: The Life and Legacy of Archbishop Thuc. Berkeley CA: The Apocryphile Press. ISBN 9781949643022.
  • Jarvis, Edward (2019). Carlos Duarte Costa: Testament of a Socialist Bishop. Berkeley CA: The Apocryphile Press. ISBN 9781949643237.
  • Jones, Rob Angus (2010). Independent sacramental bishops: ordination, authority, lineage, and validity. Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press. ISBN 9781933993836.
  • Plummer, John P. (2004). The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement. Berkeley CA: The Apocryphile Press. ISBN 0-9771461-2-X.
  • Plummer, John P. (2010). Living mysteries: a practical handbook for the independent priest (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press. ISBN 9781933993935.
  • 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.
  • Ward, Gary L.; Persson, Bertil; Bain, Alan, eds. (1990). "Independent Bishops". Independent bishops : an international directory. Detroit: Apogee Books. ISBN 155888307X.