About the

Independent Sacramental Movement 

Independent Sacramental Movement

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, if not rejected, by the ecclesiastical authorities of Rome, Constantinople, Union of Utrecht (Old Catholic), and Canterbury. The Union of Utrecht and some jurisdictions within the Anglican Communion have engaged in ecumenical conversation with some groups which could be included in the ISM.

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 ISMsources as part of their movement.

Groups within the ISM (often known as Independent CatholicOld CatholicLiberal Catholic, Autocephalous Orthodox, Free Sacramental, etc.) have a number of common characteristics:

  • 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.


The term was popularized in 2005 by John Plummer, in The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement, although it was used earlier, in 2002 by Richard Smoley, in Inner Christianity, and perhaps first used in the mid-1970s by a short-lived cooperative organization called the Synod of Independent Sacramental Churches. ISMgroups range from the broadly inclusive (including marriage of same-sex couples and the ordination of women) to the socially conservative; 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, 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, inter-spiritual expressions are arising.


Informational Source: Wikipedia

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