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

Wilbur Awards entry deadline: February 5, 2016

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Sieberg, top journalists among leaders of spring Religion Communicators convention

RCC 2016 Convention: March 31- April 2, 2016NEW YORK — Daniel Sieberg of Google News Lab, is being joined by representatives of some of the nation’s top media organizations as well as many other experts at the intersection of media and religion to lead the Religion Communicators Council’s (RCC) annual convention, March 31-April 2, in New York City.

Religion communicators will build “bridges” among faith groups, find “avenues” to new communications skills and discover “intersections” between faith groups and the world over the course of the three-day event.

The convention will take RCC members to the Interchurch Center on the Upper West Side; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints headquarters in the Lincoln Center area and the Church Center for the United Nations. Plenary and workshop topics will include multi-religious activism, Google News Lab and the future of media, finding funding and resources, advanced social media training, and issues of religious freedom.

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President Obama visits Baltimore mosque, encourages interfaith dialogue

President Barack Obama greets students

President Barack Obama greets students and guests along the rope line following remarks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque and Al-Rahmah School in Baltimore, Maryland, Feb. 3, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

"This mosque, like so many in our country, is an all-American story. You’ve been part of this city for nearly half a century. You serve thousands of families – some who’ve lived here for decades as well as immigrants from many countries who’ve worked to become proud American citizens.

Now, a lot of Americans have never visited a mosque. To the folks watching this today who haven’t – think of your own church, or synagogue, or temple, and a mosque like this will be very familiar. This is where families come to worship and express their love for God and each other. There’s a school where teachers open young minds. Kids play baseball and football and basketball – boys and girls – I hear they’re pretty good. (Laughter.) Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts meet, recite the Pledge of Allegiance here.

With interfaith dialogue, you build bridges of understanding with other faith communities – Christians and Jews. There’s a health clinic that serves the needy, regardless of their faith. And members of this community are out in the broader community, working for social justice and urban development. As voters, you come here to meet candidates. As one of your members said, “just look at the way we live... we are true Americans.”

Read the full speech on the White House web site...

Webinar: New results from the American Values Survey

Robert JonesOn Wednesday, February 3, at 1:00 p.m EST, Robert P. Jones of Public Religion Research Institute talked with RCC members about "New Results from the American Values Survey: Making Sense of the Changing Religious and Political Landscape in the United States."

Robby’s presentation featured hot-off-the-press data from the 2015 American Values Survey and the American Values Atlas – one of the largest surveys of American religious and political identity ever conducted, which has results for all 50 states and the 30 largest metropolitan areas.

Webinars are just one of the benefits RCC provides to members. If you have not taken our recent webinar survey yet, please take 3 minutes to tell us today what you would like to see for upcoming webinars.

Read more and view recorded webinar...

Last week to enter 2016 Wilbur Awards

Religion Communicators Council to accept entries through Feb. 5th

Wilbur Award trophySecular media producers, writers, publishers and bloggers can submit work for the 2016 Wilbur Awards.

The Religion Communicators Council (RCC) will accept entries through Feb. 5th for one of the oldest recognition programs for religion coverage by secular communicators. Submissions must be produced during 2015. Entry forms are available online along with our brochure.

The overriding purpose of the Wilbur Awards is to encourage continued excellence in the communication of religion and values in non-religious media. Award categories include newspapers, magazines, books, television and cable, radio or podcasts, feature films, and digital communications. Juries of media professionals coordinated by council members across the country evaluate submissions on content, creativity, impact and excellence in communicating religious values.

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Pastor’s ‘My Muslim Problem’ post draws many readers

The Rev. Omar Rikabi, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Heath, Texas, likes to write. A few weeks ago, he composed an essay, giving it the slyly provocative title “My Muslim Problem.”

Gentle in tone, the piece draws on his unusual family background in making a Wesleyan Christian case for seeing the humanity of all persons. Rikabi, 42, was born in Houston and grew up in Carrollton, Texas, one of two sons of an Iraqi-born Muslim father and American Christian mother.

Read more on the UMC site...

Hartford Seminary establishes first Shi’i chair in North America

Historic Post Will Encourage Dialogue Between Sunnis and Shi'as

HARTFORD, Conn. — The first academic chair in North America dedicated to Shi’i studies has been established at Hartford Seminary.

The Imam Ali Chair for the Study of Shi’i Islam and Dialogue Among Islamic Legal School provides a voice in the academy for Shi’i Islam and encourages dialogue among the diverse Islamic legal schools, including Shi’i and Sunni. Scholars, students and friends from around the world came to Hartford Seminary on January 22, 2016, to mark the chair’s inauguration.

Read more on the RNS site...

How American Muslims can overcome their public relations crisis

By Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News National Edition

American Muslims face many of the same public relations crises affecting other religious groups, and they must adapt and evolve their practices in response.

Doug Cannon, RCC member and former national president, is quoted in this story.

Read more on the Deseret News site...

Faith influence at Paris climate summit

The Rev. Pat Watkins talks about faith-based efforts on climate change and the U.N. summit in Paris with members and guests of the New York RCC chapter during a Jan. 12 lunch at the Episcopal Center in Manhattan. Photo by Bud Heckman.

By Linda Bloom, RCC New York Chapter President

In his September address to the United Nations, Pope Francis noted that harm done to the environment is “harm done to humanity.” Those who suffer the most, the Pope said, are the poor and marginalized.

The motivation for many faith groups to go to the Nov. 30 - Dec. 11 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – popularly known as COP21 – was to remind leaders of 195 countries of that fact and particularly to address the immediate needs of poor countries most severely affected by extreme weather.

Two speakers led a conversation about “The Faithful in Paris: Religious Advocacy During and After the Climate Summit” during the Jan. 12 meeting of the New York Chapter of Religion Communicators Council.

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Faith groups should raise awareness of climate change, say activists

By Solange De Santis, Editor, Episcopal Journal

The Rev. Pat Watkins, left, and the Rev. Kathleen Stone, both of the United Methodist Church, speak about how faith groups can communicate the importance of creation care. Photo by Solange De Santis.

People of faith have much to contribute to the discourse on climate change, and communications is an essential part of that mission, according to a panel convened on Jan. 12 by the Religion Communicators Council.

Meeting at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, the Rev. Pat Watkins and the Rev. Kathleen Stone, both of the United Methodist Church (UMC), spoke of recent experiences at the Paris climate summit and in creating communications resources. [See the January issue of Episcopal Journal for an Episcopal News Service report on the Episcopal Church’s representation in Paris.]

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Building bridges to unity

Nashville chapter meetingThe Nashville RCC Chapter held its first meeting for the year in January at the Church of Scientology. Chapter president, Rev. Brian Fesler, opened the meeting by welcoming everyone, getting introductions, then diving right into the hot news discussion of the day: in the 1970s, Southern Baptist leaders supported women's right to choice. Today, the SBC leaders are seeking an end to legal abortion. How can it be that a denomination can turn 180 degrees on such a basic issue?

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