The Episcopal Institute has announced its plan to meet with seven moderately progressive bishops of the Episcopal Church to respond to the current meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and seven American bishops who have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the democratic process in the Episcopal Church. Each bishop will be accompanied by four priests and seventeen lay people from the representative dioceses in order to reflect the full ministry and wisdom of the Episcopal Church.
The two sites under active consideration for the upcoming meeting are the recently dedicated Athanasius Room at the recently reclaimed Diocesan House in Fort Worth and the Starbucks located across the street from the Trinity School for Ministry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The agenda for the consultation is consideration of several alternatives to the rumored Canterbury proposal of a "two-tiered" Anglican community. A spokesperson for the Episcopal Institute noted that "The problem here is three-fold. First, the notion of 'two tiers' is more appropriate to a football stadium than an international worshiping community. Second, if the concept of tiers is really accepted, it will not be long before we have between thirty-five and forty-seven different tiers given the nuances of a multiplicity of issues (such as human sexuality, social justice, the authority of the laity and differing styles of ecclesiastical vesture). Third, the notion of a multi-tiered Christian group has been tried before – with women, racial minorities and others – and has always proven inadequate to maintaining status quos."
A different and more subdued spokesperson for TEI revealed that at least two different orderings of the Anglican Communion will be proposed at the upcoming meetings. The first is to divide the Anglican Communion into three different groups: PLATINUM, GOLD and BRONZE. PLATINUM membership would be those who agree with The Episcopal Institute's goals, including the full inclusion of all Baptized members in all ministries of the church. GOLD members would include those who embrace most of TEI's goals while respecting their differences with TEI as part of Anglican Comprehensiveness. BRONZE membership will be reserved for those who insist on a single interpretation (their own) of key parts of the Bible and who regard all Tradition as absolutely binding, except the parts they don't like. There will also be an additional SILVER membership category for the lay people of the Communion who wonder what the problem is because the core doctrine of the historic creeds is not at issue. SILVER members will possess all the rights, responsibilities and regard as Gold or Platinum members.
The second proposed ordering of the Anglican Communion, favored by older members of the Institute, is the radical notion of Comprehensiveness, with differing provinces respecting the differing experience of other provinces while considering the unity of the Communion as a common belief in Jesus Christ and the decision to share with one another in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
The Episcopal Institute has requested that attending bishops be accompanied by several clergy and lay people from their dioceses in recognition of the importance of the full ministry of the Episcopal Church.