How does one contribute to his faith? Some take up the calling to be a minister, imam, rabbi or priest while others might take time to volunteer or give weekly donations. There’s a certain class of people who have taken up a unique calling: communication.
The Religion Communicators Council (RCC) is an interfaith organization more than 80 years old which has members from many faith traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i, Scientology, Hinduism, Buddhism and more. Members of the RCC make it their job to communicate on behalf of their tradition, to spread the good news and encourage good deeds throughout the world.
Each year, a national convention is held for all RCC members across the United States. It is a time to come together as one, to celebrate excellence in communication, and gain ideas and inspiration. The 2017 conference took place in April in Chicago, Illinois. RCC members gathered under the theme "Virtually Here, There and Everywhere: Faith Communications and Presence," alluding to the myriad channels of communication in today’s world, and how to best utilize those channels in engaging an audience or disseminating information. It was held at Crowne Plaza Hotel and consisted of a long weekend of activities and workshops from Thursday to Saturday.
The convention opened with a plenary by Rev. Myron McCoy, Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church at the Chicago; Angela Cowser, Associate Professor of the Sociology of Religion, Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary; Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director, Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN); and the Honorable Toni Preckwinckle, the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. They took time to speak to the topic “Guns into Plowshares, Presence into Hope: On Violence and Faith.”
During the first evening of the convention, the annual DeRose Hinkhouse awards were presented to active members of RCC who demonstrate excellence in religious communications and public relations. The most prestigious honor were the Best of Class awards, and among the winners were Christie R. House, General Board of Global Ministries for the United Methodist Church with the New World Outlook Magazine; Anuttama Dasa with ISKCON Communications for The Joy of Devotion; and to Steven D. Martin with the National Council of Churches for the National Council of Churches Podcast.
Religion Communicators heard from experts on social media, media engagement, making podcasts, getting accreditation, seeing theater as communication, creating material specific to young people, building a blog, handling a crisis, and countering hate movements.
The convention concluded Saturday evening with the presentation of the Wilbur Awards, recognizing the work of individuals in secular media who communicate religious issues, values and themes with the utmost professionalism, fairness and honesty. Award winners for this prestigious honor included The Associated Press, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBS News, National Geographic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, and the Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee). Hidden Figures, the 20th Century Fox production about the African-American women behind astronaut John Glenn's historic space launch was presented this award as well as Roots, the History Channel's remake of Alex Haley's portrait of American slavery; and black-ish, ABC-TV's comedy about a black family's search for cultural identity. Photos and the full list of winners are available on the Wilbur Awards page of the RCC website.
The Religion Communicators Council (RCC), founded in 1929, is an interfaith association of religion communicators at work in print and electronic communication, marketing and in public relations. Members of the RCC come from many different religions and backgrounds including Christianity, Judaism, Baha’i, Hinduism, Scientology, Buddhist, Sikh and Islam among others.
For more information about the RCC or the annual convention, including a complete list of DeRose Hinkhouse and Wilbur Award winners, visit religioncommunicators.org.