June 22, 2009

New Via Media USA Web Site

Via Media USA logo
Via Media USA has a new Web site. You can view it at http://viamediausa.org.

Does anyone remember Via Media USA? It is the alliance of local groups of Episcopalians concerned about the commitment of their respective dioceses to The Episcopal Church. Most of these groups organized independently in 2003 and sent representatives to a meeting in 2004 in Atlanta, Georgia, at which Via Media USA was formed. A mission statement was written at that March meeting that remains the same to this day:
Via Media USA, an alliance of associations of laity and clergy, is committed to promoting and protecting the faith, unity, and vitality of The Episcopal Church as the American expression of Anglican tradition.
  • Via Media USA strives to emulate Jesus Christ, respecting the dignity of every human being;
  • Affirms the four principles of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral—
    • the Nicene Creed as a sufficient statement of belief,
    • the Holy Scriptures as containing all things necessary to salvation,
    • the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Eucharist,
    • and the Historic Episcopate;
  • Acknowledges that Holy Scripture must be understood within the context of its origins and traditions of interpretation, as well as with the mediation of reason and the Holy Spirit;
  • Nurtures greater understanding of Anglican tradition and Episcopal polity; and
  • Celebrates its diverse understandings of matters outside the basic tenets of the faith as indicative of humanity’s struggle to understand God’s will for contemporary societies.

Via Media, the middle way, is not a compromise for the sake of peace, but a comprehension for the sake of truth.

As it happens, although Via Media USA has issued press releases and done other work that might be expected of an advocacy group within the church, it has probably been most useful for building communication links among Episcopalians in troubled dioceses. The work on the ground has largely been done by its component groups. In San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, and Fort Worth, the local group allied with Via Media USA has played a major role in helping the diocese reorganize after schism. Although Via Media USA leaders have been in touch with Episcopalians in Quincy for some time, that diocese did not have the benefit of a group in place when it voted for “realignment,” and, for this and other reasons, the Diocese of Quincy has had a harder time pulling itself together.

Via Media USA’s Web site was assembled hurriedly after the March 2004 organizational meeting, and the new site represents its first thorough makeover. The site uses a content management system (Drupal), which greatly simplifies maintenance and has facilitated a more transparent organization of material. I volunteered to develop an overall design for the site, but I found myself implementing the design as well. Although I built the site, learning Drupal as I went along, and although I am serving as Webmaster for now, I expect to be training others in how to add and modify content, including how to post on the new blog that is included as part of the site.

For the second time, Via Media USA will have a booth at the General Convention, and the site redesign was very much driven by a desire to create a more modern and attractive cyberface for the organization before the Convention convenes. (I just made up the word “cyberface.” I wonder if people will find it useful.) Much of the content from the old site has been migrated to the new. Some content has been deliberately dropped (or has become unavailable), but other content has been added. I expect more pages to be added in the coming days.

I hope that the new Web site will become an oft-consulted source for material related to the history, polity, and character of The Episcopal Church. The Resources section has been populated not only with material from Via Media USA and its component groups, but with other material useful for educating people about what we view as the true and proper nature of The Episcopal Church. This may be one of the best collections of materials useful in dioceses threatened with schism. Episcopalians concerned about our church’s relationship to the Anglican Communion would also do well to consult this collection.

The usefulness of Via Media Blog will need to be established. I hope that people from Via Media groups attending the General Convention will use it to offer their impressions of the Convention, but I have not yet tried to sign up any bloggers.

Do visit the new site. Comments and (especially) suggestions are welcome. Use the comment link at the left.

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