First, for those of you who are not familiar with the Independent Sacramental Movement, the best resources for learning more about it on-line are the woefully out-of-date yet nevertheless quite comprehensive www.ind-movement.org and the new, as-of-yet woefully incomplete, but hopefully expanding daily database www.independentmovement.us/index.php/Independent_Movement_Database. For those who want to do more in-depth reading, the best resource is Bishop Dr. John Plummer’s The Many Paths of the Independent Sacramental Movement, available from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0976256525/sr=1-1/qid=1139430454/ref=sr_1_1/104-3010358-0803105?%5Fencoding=UTF8. In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that John is a close friend and my primary consecrator.
Here are some of the questions I intend to explore initially:
1. What is the role of the independent sacramental movement? Is it to form a new denominational structure that replicates that of more mainstream denominations, with church buildings, paid clergy, a lot of denominational infrastructure? Or is it good that we are small, meeting in homes or rented space, with volunteer clergy and lots of small jurisdictional family groupings?
2. Most independent sacramental communities have a much larger proportion of ordained clergy than is the norm in mainstream churches. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Are there other models that might be helpful in coping with this situation? What, exactly, is the role of independent clergy?
3. What is the best way to achieve some degree of unity within this movement?
4. There are many horror stories of people who are inadequately trained becoming bishops; of criminals, cheats, frauds, and other rapscallions being ordained; and the overwhelming majority of people have been in more than one jurisdiction, which causes much grief for those bishops whose clergy leave shortly after ordination. These have led to calls for some sort of reform, some set of standards to be widely adopted in the movement, yet no attempts to establish them have been successful. What would be the best way to establish these standards without sacrificing the freedom which the movement has found so precious?
I invite your comments, as well as suggestions for other issues to be explored.
I also intend to post humorous things amidst the serious discussion.