2017 Convention: March 30 - April 1 in Chicago, Illinois

RCC 2017 Convention news

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How the National Council of Churches helped create the most beautiful ad of the season

Kudos to former RCC member Tony Kireopoulos

You may have seen it. Millions have, either on TV or in social media shares. People everywhere are talking about it, and the National Council of Churches helped create it.

Here’s how it happened: Associate General Secretary Tony Kireopoulos was contacted by Amazon Prime and was asked to consult on the creation of this ad. They wanted to make sure the sensitivities of both Christians and Muslims were protected.

Tony was involved throughout the production process. Together with input from other organizations, Amazon created an ad that appeals to our highest ideals and reflects the values of interreligious respect, peace, and kindness the National Council of Churches works for every day.

The advertisement tells a story of a Christian Pastor and a Muslim Imam who are lifelong friends but aren’t as sprightly as they were in their youth. One day they each have a moment of inspiration and decide to do something to make the other’s life and work a little easier.

Entry period opens for 2017 Wilbur Awards

Religion Communicators Council to accept submissions until Feb. 6.

Wilbur Award trophyThe Religion Communicators Council (RCC) is accepting entries for the 2017 Wilbur Awards. Secular communicators have until Feb. 6, 2017 to submit work produced during 2016 for consideration in one of the oldest recognition programs in religion communication.

The council has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949. They honor excellence by individuals in secular media – print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures – in communicating religious issues, positive values and themes.


Newtown movie highly recommended

By Bud Heckman

Make your way to a showing of the new documentary Newtown or host one in your community, if there isn't one nearby. See http://newtownfilm.com.

I was privileged to see on Nov. 2 the nationwide early screening and post show conversation with Chris Cuomo, director, & producers.

A very moving conversation about gun violence and our communities. Comes to PBS' Independent Lens in Spring 2017.

A few ditties:

  • 40% of gun sales are *still* done without background checks.
  • 90% of Americans support common sense restrictions, like a waiting period.
  • At least 7 children die every day as a result of gun violence, and 40 are shot and survive.
  • Every day 90 people die from gun violence: 31 are murdered & 56 kill themselves.
  • For every one justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 44 criminal homicides.

There has been a more than 20-year Congressional restriction on funding firearms studies (until last week when National Institute of Justice (NIJ) awarded more than $3.3 million to five private institutions for firearms research.

It's hard to craft common sense mental health provisions which still honor full parameters of personal and privacy rights granted every person, sane or not.

RCC members Nick Stuart and CarolAnne Dolan are executive producers.

Religion Communicators Convention to explore faith communications and presence

Religion communicators to gather March 30-April 1, 2017 in Chicago

CHICAGO, Ill. — The omnipresence of faith communications “here, there and everywhere” and mastering the channels for communicating those messages will serve as the theme of the Religion Communicators Council’s (RCC) annual convention, March 30-April 1, 2017 in Chicago.

The three-day event, “Virtually Here, There and Everywhere: Faith Communications and Presence,” will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare. The convention is a multi-faith forum intended to enrich, engage, educate and empower professional communicators of religion and faith-based issues.

Plenary presentations will include a discussion of violence and the role of faith communities; tips for covering Christianity and using theatre as a communicator. Workshops include podcast and Facebook techniques; creating materials by and for children and adolescents; communications lessons from hosting the Pope in the U.S.; crisis communications; and advancing ministry through Accreditation in Public Relations.

Among the featured speakers, panelists and workshop leaders confirmed:


Tips when covering Islam and Muslims

Wajahat AliTop 30 do's and don'ts when covering Islam and Muslims — Tips from Wajahat Ali, co-host of Al Jazeera America’s The Stream to the 2015 RCC National Convention.

The first three are:

  • Do diversify your portfolio of token Muslims. Different Muslim super heroes have different superpowers.
  • Do not assume Arabs = Muslims and Muslims = Arab. Do not use them interchangeably.
  • Do seek out Muslims who are black and/or white and or other colors. They exist, not all are brown.


RCC Professional Development Webinar:

Using Brand Strategy to Create Social Change

Thursday, November 3; 1:00 p.m. ET

Cynthia RoundEver thought about how you can use brand strategies to create social change?

Religion Communicators Council presents an opportunity to learn from a renowned expert who has led successful branding initiatives for the world’s largest nonprofit (United Way Worldwide) and America’s largest museum (The Met). RCC hosts a conversation with Cynthia Round, global brand builder and culture evangelist.

If brand-building strategy can create a cult-like following for a pair of running shoes or a cup of coffee, then surely we can use these same approaches to inspire better choices for healthy lives, give more children the education they deserve, or to save the planet. What can the world’s best brands teach us about creating positive social change?


Fighting racism, one step at a time

A new treatment program on par with Alcoholics Anonymous is taking aim at a problem that's afflicted America since it's birth: racism.

John Blackstone reports on the program started by Rev. Ron Buford, pastor of Congregational Church of Sunnyvale, UCC in Sunnyvale, California.

Thanks to RCC member Ben Guess for sharing this story.

See video story on CBS Evening News...

Smithsonian’s Quran exhibit aims to dazzle the eyes and may soften the heart

(RNS) Islam prohibits the depiction of God or prophets, and some Muslims believe drawing any animate being is also forbidden. Certainly no such images appear in the Quran, its central holy book.

So there are no pictures per se in the first major exhibit of Qurans in the U.S., “The Art of the Qur’an,” on display at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on the National Mall until Feb. 20, 2017. What visitors to the exhibit can expect to see is words, thousands of Arabic words.

But these words, within the more than 60 Qurans on display, present a visually stunning tour of more than 1,000 years of Islamic history, told through the calligraphy and ornamentation that grace the sacred folios.

Read more on RNS

Susan Sparks: When religion and humor intersect

By Linda Bloom

Susan Sparks at NYC Chapter meeting (photo by Bud Heckman)

Susan Sparks has made a career – make that several careers – at the intersection of religion and humor.

Her philosophy, honed through a personal journey that has taken her from trial lawyer to standup comedian to pastor, is a simple one:

"If you can laugh at yourself, you can forgive yourself and if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others."

Sparks, who leads the historic Madison Avenue Baptist Church in Manhattan and still occasionally takes the stage, was the featured speaker at the Sept. 20 lunch meeting of the New York Chapter of the Religion Communicators Council. The event took place at the Episcopal Center, not far from where world leaders were convening at the United Nations.


Policeman’s daughter dreams of day police, Black Lives Matter can work together

By RCC member Rev. Dr. Sheron C. Patterson

Native Charlottean Dr. Sheron C. Patterson, whose father was one of the first African Americans to integrate the Charlotte police department, says she feels the anger, frustration and fear of both police and Black Lives Matter movement.

“I am an African American clergywoman who supports the Blue, and the daughter of a retired Charlotte policeman who supports Black Lives Matter. My social media posts bear both hashtags. I endorse both without betraying the other because they are not mutually exclusive. Also both are organically in my DNA.”

Read more on The Charlotte Observer web site...

51 things I’ve learned after 50 years in the editor’s chair

By Rich Peck*

Photo of Rich Peck and cover of Speaking Faith

Rick Peck is editor of the 7th edition of RCC handbook, Speaking Faith: the Essential Handbook for Religion Communicators.

Photo of Rich Peck: A UMNS photo by Kathleen Barry.

  1. Avoid jumps (continuing article on a page in the back of the magazine). Avoid widows (single word at the top of a column) and orphans (single word at the bottom of a column).
  2. Label headlines without verbs cause readers to skip pages. Don’t use the word “and” in a head; use a comma. Use single quotes and numerals in headlines.
  3. If you edit a writer’s manuscript, send it back to the author before publishing. The practice avoids future complaints about distorting copy. If you write an article about someone, let him or her check the facts, but maintain control of the contents.
  4. Don’t put the Associated Press Stylebook back in the bookshelf. Keep it next to your keyboard. You can vary from the stylebook, but you need a good reason to do so. I capitalize Baptism and Holy Communion because these are the two sacraments for the United Methodist Church. The stylebook says only Holy Communion should be capitalized. Of course, you may also use some other stylebook.
  5. Authors are not good proof readers and spellcheck can mislead you. Recruit at least one talented proof reader (two would be better).



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