2016 Convention: Faith-based Communications: Bridges, Avenues, and Intersections

DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards entry deadline: January 21, 2016

Wilbur Awards entry deadline: February 5, 2016

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RCC and NCC Grieve with Muslim Partners over Hajj Disaster

RCC joins our colleagues at the NCC in offering our prayers to our Muslim friends.

WASHINGTON — The National Council of Churches grieves with Muslims worldwide after hearing the news of the more than 700 worshipers who died in the tragedy that took place during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mina, a short distance outside of Mecca.  It is especially tragic that these worshipers died during the Hajj, an event that carries intense spiritual and emotional significance for Muslims.

We express our sadness also to our many Muslim partners here in the United States, who no doubt had faithful from their communities participating in the annual pilgrimage.  We strive to celebrate with our Muslim friends in joyful times, and to also join them in grief when tragedies such as this strike.  

Modern Masters of Religion

Pope Francis lifted up Thomas Merton as "a source of spiritual inspiration" in his address to the U.S. Congress, Sept. 24, 2015.

To learn more about Merton, RCC recommends Modern Masters of Religion, a CBS program produced by RCC Wilbur Award winners Liz Kineke and Jack Blessington, which explores the lives and influence of three religious teachers, Thomas Merton, His Holiness the 16th Karmapa and Karen Armstrong.

Bestselling Author & Religion Expert Phyllis Tickle Has Died

Phyllis Tickle

Photo Credit: Teresa Hooper

The Farm in Lucy, Tennessee — The widely beloved religion publishing legend Phyllis Tickle died on Tuesday, September 22, at her home outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Tickle had announced in May that she had been diagnosed with inoperable stage four lung cancer, and had recently entered hospice.

An authority on religion in America, Tickle was the retired founding editor of the religion department of Publishers Weekly, the international journal of the publishing industry. She single-handedly changed the way religion publishing was covered by the magazine, and thus, how it was perceived by mainstream media. She left an indelible stamp on the industry.

Read more on RNS...

Tribute to Everett Parker

By Cheryl Leanza, RCC member

Everett ParkerRev. Dr. Everett C. Parker, Life Member of RCC, passed away early in the morning on September 17, 2015 at the age of 102. He was the first director of Communications in 1957 for the newly-formed United Church of Christ. In that role he founded the United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc., a media reform and accountability ministry with a civil rights agenda, that worked to improve the coverage and employment of women and people of color in broadcasting and other media. Dr. Parker was named one of the most influential men in broadcasting by the trade publication Broadcasting Magazine and is featured Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television.

"My heart is broken today. I had the chance to work with Everett at the start of my career and visit with him many times after that. Everett was such a strong leader his standards were always high, he was always thinking three moves ahead and was prepared for any contingency," said Cheryl Leanza, the current policy advisor for UCC OC Inc.

"We will always be grateful for Dr. Parker's role in bringing community voices to federal agencies. Much of the successful activism today related to Internet openness and media consolidation traces back to Dr. Parker's work in the 1950s and 1960s," noted Earl Williams, chair of UCC OC Inc. Before the litigation brought by UCC OC Inc. against the Federal Communications Commission in a famous duo of cases known as UCC v. FCC, ordinary people had no right to file comments or register their views at the FCC. Mr. Williams explained, "the millions of people who asked the FCC to protect net neutrality last year can credit Dr. Parker and his work at UCC OC Inc. for their right to do so."

Dr. Parker's family has graciously asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to UCC OC Inc.

Dr. Parker's work and career are commemorated every year in the Annual Parker Lecture and Award Ceremony. The next lecture will be held in Washington DC on October 20, 2015 and will feature a lecture by danah boyd and will honor activists Joseph Torres and Wally Bowen. A tribute to his life will be held in conjunction with the lecture.  Tickets and information are available on the UCC OC Inc. web site at www.uccmediajustice.org.

Funeral services for Dr. Parker will be at Church In the Highlands UCC, White Plains, New York, Saturday, October 3, at 11:00 am.

The United Church of Christ national office released a detailed obituary.  For additional details and information about Dr. Parker, view the UCC's learn more page

Religion Communicators Council Extends New Membership Offer in Celebration of 2016 Convention

RCC logoNEW YORK — The Religion Communicators Council (RCC) has scheduled its 2016 annual convention – “Faith-based Communications: Bridges, Avenues, and Intersections” – for March 31-April 2, 2016 in New York City. RCC is extending a special membership offer to mark the occasion.

New members joining for 2016 will receive membership for the remainder of 2015 at no cost. They also will be eligible to submit their creative work for consideration in the DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards, which recognizes excellence in communications by faith-based organizations. These industry-leading awards will be presented along with the Wilbur Awards – conferred on individuals and organizations for remarkable coverage of religious issues, values and themes in secular media – at the convention.


Ecumenical and Interfaith Leader Slated for Special Wilbur Award

Religion Communicators Council to honor Joan Brown Campbell

The Rev. Joan Brown CampbellNEW YORK, September 2, 2015 — The first woman minister to head the National Council of Churches and first woman Director of Religion at the historic Chautauqua Institution is to receive a special award next year from the Religion Communicators Council.

The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, 83, is to accept a special Wilbur Award April 2 in New York City during the communication organization’s 87th annual national convention. The communicators council announced the special recognition Monday.

Rev. Campbell is a devoted activist for peace and social justice, believing that citizens in a democracy must act on their conscience. This commitment was crafted during her life changing work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and was deepened in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. Archbishop Desmond Tutu referred to her as “a woman of courage and compassion” pointing out that Rev. Campbell was the only woman in the clergy procession of over 200 for his enthronement as Archbishop of South Africa.

The honor recognizes Campbell’s over 30 years of public and behind the scenes work in all forms of media. She was spokesperson for the National Council of Churches on national and international issues for nearly a decade.


Recent Headlines

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For J. Fred Rowles, veteran agency producer and retired RCC member, success meant changed lives on the UMCom web site...

Congratulations to so many of our RCC colleagues at UMCom... 75 years! on the UMCom web site...

Promoting Religious Literacy

Longing for Peace / Exploring the Heart of God – 2015 Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, North Carolina, November 12-15, 2015

The Lake Junaluska Peace Conference is an ongoing response to God’s call to peacemaking and reconciliation. Affirming the community of Abrahamic faiths, the Peace Conference seeks to work in partnership with Christians, Jews, Muslims, and members of other religious traditions to advance the work of reconciliation and peace.

Engaging Faith Communities in Disasters: Religious Literacy & Competency – Sewanee, Tennessee, November 9, 2015

This curriculum provides an overview of why and how to engage faith communities during disasters and public health emergencies. The modules demonstrate how diverse religious and cultural practice increases partner capabilities and builds whole community resilience. The course offers tools (tip sheets & a field guide set) and foundational skills to competently engage religious leaders and congregations in the field.

Religious literacy resources recommended by RCC

2015 Convention News

State Department official describes impact of understanding role of religion on foreign affairs

Panel of religion writers discusses changes in their industry

RCC awards excellence in religion communication at D.C.-area ceremony

Presidential adviser explains mission of White House faith-based office, principles of interaction between religion and government

RCC workshop leader offers tips for effective media placement

Religion reporter offers advice for getting coverage

Communications professionals need a ‘seat at the table,’ Steigman tells RCC convention

Workshop teaches how to research and evaluate well and on a budget

RCC elects Casey Tom president at annual business meeting

Former Obama adviser, experts on religion discuss importance of religious literacy

CBS leads list of 2015 Wilbur Award winners

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