How do the Independent Catholics organize?

This is more a request than a blog post, and I’m reaching out to people in the Independent Catholic or Independent Sacramental movements, and particularly those in structured communities, like parishes or worship groups.

How do you organize your groups? How do you work between groups? In what way does your group function like “establishment” churches and which way does it not?

I would appreciate any feedback, and I think we generally have much to learn as religious institutions have their privileged place challenged.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. In response to your question on how members of the Independent Catholic Church(es) organize:

    We, at the ECC, use a combination of the structures used by the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and the Episcopal Church (EC) because they both reflect the ecclesial and theological traditions which best fit who we claim to be: a continuation of faithful apostolic Christians who are part of the ‘One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’ spoken of in our Creed.

    In both the RC and EC traditions, a bishop leads a local church (diocese) which in my case covers 10 states in the American Southwest. We currently have four dioceses in the USA and one in Ireland. To provide a spirit of cohesion and common direction in worship and in service, we (the house of bishops and representatives from the clergy and the laity) elect a Presiding Bishop every four years to lead for a term of five years. A PB may only hold that office for a maximum of two consecutive terms.

    Parishes are led by a pastor (priest) appointed by the bishop after a consultation and a search lead by the leadership of the local parish.

    For more detailed information, please consult the Canons published in our website, or feel free to contact me by email or by phone at 619-634-3708.

    Your research will provide a very useful resource for those of us in the ISM here in North America.

    Good luck with your work,


  2. Scott, you could contact Bishop George Lucey of the American National Catholic Church (both are on FB) for the details, but the ANCC has congregational parish governance in combination with the leadership of a bishop. Local parish communities maintain autonomy in their governance and function. A common set of standards for acceptance into ordained ministry for clergy is maintained across the church. Parish communities adhere to a core set of basic policies. The presiding bishop of the church is elected by the ordained and lay representatives at the General Convention. The presiding bishop does not serve for life and must be reelected to continue to hold office. The presiding bishop serves in an important teaching capacity and serves as the voice of church. The presiding bishop also exercises the important sacramental functions of the Office of Bishop and is entrusted with the responsibility of ordaining qualified candidates to the diaconate and priesthood.

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