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

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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.

Read more...

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...

Handa Fellows explore communication rights and social change at WACC Summer School

Jonathan Ammons and Esteban García, RCC Handa Fellows, at the WACC Summer School

Two RCC Handa Fellows attended the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) Summer School on "Communication and Religion" held July 23-31, 2016 in Manchester, Jamaica.

The Summer School focused on the "relationship between communication rights, religion, and social change" and "turning communication rights theory into tangible social change" with a "special emphasis on the Caribbean region" according to the WACC. "Seventeen students and seven teaching faculty, representing more than 10 countries, engaged in five days of discussions on the ways in which a rights-based approach to communication can make a difference in the lives of people in their communities."

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Reflection on 9/11

By Bud Heckman, RCC national vice president

On 9/11/01 at 8:47 am, I came out of the subway at 14th St in NYC to look down the avenue and witness firsthand the first plane hit the first tower. A large fireball shot out the backside of the building. Not on TV, but in person.

I was starting a UMC training that week of young short term global justice volunteers at the Alma Matthews House on 11th St. They were from everywhere and (eventually) went everywhere. Within a couple hours we understood what was happening and were trying to volunteer at the local hospital, serving coffee and waiting for possible victims for intake.

We were in the closed off zone of southern Manhattan. Seemingly every available chair in the hospital was lined on the street with a sheet on it waiting for victims who never came. Instead, thousands of bewildered people walked slowly by, each covered in varying degrees of ash. It seemed apocalyptic.

The silence was what I remembered. Eerie awful silence, unknown to New Yorkers, and only broken here and there by sirens.

Our prayers that evening together included many many things, but most passionately was our belief that we not allow what was happening to draw a response from us inconsistent with what our faith calls us to.

Within a few months, I changed my career path and started working to advance interfaith cooperation at Religions for Peace, the largest international interfaith organization. My wonderful daughter is interested in the same career.

Our world is a post 9/11 world. We either take steps toward greater understanding of one another and work from common shared values for a better world for all, or we allow fear to think she can be the victor over love. We know how the story should end. Every single one of us has a responsibility in some form to carry us there.

Bruce McEver awarded a bronze medal by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

Religion Communicators Council warmly congratulates Bruce McEver, co-founder of Berkshire Capital Securities and founder of the Foundation for Religious Literacy, on his recognition by the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation at the inaugural Global Business and Interfaith Peace Awards in Brazil on September 6.

Bruce has been a champion of advancing religious literacy and ongoing partner of RCC in those same efforts.

Read more on the RNS site...

The Wisdom of Our Elders, an interfaith special, to be broadcast Sept. 18, 2016 on CBS

The Wisdom of Our Elders, a CBS Interfaith Special, features interviews with three faith leaders about how they became who they are today and what they think about the current state of religious affairs in the U.S. and throughout the world. This special broadcast will be on the CBS Television Network Sunday, Sept. 18 (check local listings ).

Joan ChittisterJoan D. Chittister, O.S.B., is a Benedictine sister of Erie, Pennsylvania, who for the last fifty years has been a passionate advocate for peace, justice and human rights. She writes a column for the National Catholic Reporter, “From Where I Stand,” and is co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a UN-sponsored organization creating a worldwide network of women peacemakers. The author of over fifty books, she is considered by theologians and historians to be a prophetic voice on issues related to faith and spirituality.

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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. Don’t overestimate the amount of information readers have and don’t underestimate their intelligence.

    2. When you tell people you would rather not have line-ups or grip-and-grin photos, you will get line-ups and grip-and-grin photos. Use the photo you are given. It means more to the people to see their photo than it does to the editor who dreads using stilted photos.

    3. Mentally editing the grammar of television commercials, songs, and newspaper articles is one of the liabilities of the position.

    4. Avoid gender-specific words such as fireman, policeman, and mankind. Use plural nouns to avoid gender-specific pronouns such as his/her and he/she. Use a non-sexist word finder.

    5. Subheads can make grey pages sparkle. Adding blurbs can add interest. Also consider numbers and bullets.

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Leading Christian ethicist explores the social and political issues at the forefront of 2016 election campaigns in new book

David P. Gushee, 2016 Wilbur Award winner, helps “anxious” American Christians make sense of political changes

David Gushee and book coverLOUISVILLE, Ky. — American Christians are anxious, says ethicist David P. Gushee, about the rapid economic, cultural, and political changes occurring these days, “and we are more scared than we have ever been that if we go to a mall or a movie theater, someone is going to try to kill us.”

His book, A Letter to My Anxious Christian Friends: From Fear to Faith in Unsettled Times (Westminster John Knox Press) guides Christians through the flurry of divisive political issues currently at work in the United States that also rest at the forefront of the 2016 presidential elections.

“Ours is a great country, but like any country, it is a living, organic reality that changes over time,” Gushee writes. “Some of those changes are constructive, some are dangerous, and some are subject to conflicting interpretations. Our actions and inactions as Christian citizens will be pivotal in affecting the direction that we now go as a nation.”

Read more on the RNS web site...

A visit to the new LDS temple in Philadelphia

By Linda Bloom, President, RCC New York Chapter

Ryan Koch, a member of the RCC New York Chapter, gives the guests on his Aug. 4 bus tour a preview of the day’s visit to historic sites and the new Philadelphia temple. Photo by Mark Dransfield.

An Aug. 4, 2016 road trip to Philadelphia – organized by Ryan Koch, an RCC New York Chapter member, and his staff – celebrated religious freedom in America from both historic and contemporary perspectives.

The visit began with tours of Independence Hall, the Congressional building and the Liberty Bell, led by a National Park Service ranger. After a “build your own Philly cheese steak” lunch, the group attended an open house at the new Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Temples are a place where you can come and be separated from the world for a time,” said Koch, director of public affairs in New York for the LDS church. He also was co-chair of the RCC2016 national convention.

“It’s a chance to reflect, meditate, pray. It’s an opportunity to evaluate your life and what you can be doing better. It’s a time to draw closer to divinity and to seek His guidance. It’s a chance to recharge and then to go forward with faith.”

Read more...

The Disturbing Sexist Trend in Interfaith Work

by Rabbi Jordie Gerson

In most cities I’ve lived in since being ordained as a rabbi, every single time I’ve seen an interfaith event sponsored by the Jewish community, it has featured a male imam, rabbi, and priest... Multifaith isn’t really multifaith if it excludes 50% of the population.

Read the full article on Forward.com...

Bud Heckman, vice president of the national RCC board, writes on Facebook about the article "Yep. But, Rabbi Jordie Gerson, this isn't a "trend" as the title you got slammed with says. It is a very longstanding systemic and structural problem. See the tracking work of Susie Hayward & Katherine Marshall on gender roles and imaging and religious leadership."

How we honor Muslims who stand up to terror

By Robert Satloff

Stories of Muslims facing down hate and terror, especially perpetrated by violent Islamists who claim to speak in their name, are both important to tell and more common than we realize.

Read full story on RNS site...

Simran Jeet Singh in NBC videoNBC features RCC member Simran Jeet Singh in Life Stories series

RCC member Simran Jeet Singh, professor of religion and Senior Religion Fellow at The Sikh Coalition, reflects on his upbringing and faith, and the importance of cultural and religious literacy across traditions in America in NBC's Life Stories video.

See video at NBC site...

Religious Freedom Center offers classes for religious and civic leaders

Religious Freedom Center signBecome a constitutional and human rights specialist on issues of religion and public life.

The Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute is a nonpartisan national initiative focused on educating the American public about the religious liberty principles of the First Amendment. We envision a world committed to religious freedom as an inalienable right for all people.

In carrying out this vision, our mission is to educate the public about the history, meaning and significance of religious freedom and to promote dialogue and understanding among people of all religions and none.

The Religious Freedom Center offers onsite and online classes that prepare religious and civic leaders for effective and principled leadership in a religiously diverse society.

We invite you to join this initiative and encourage you to apply for one or more of our courses. We are currently accepting applications for the Fall 2016 First Amendment courses.

 



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