Deadline nears for annual awards honoring religion coverage in secular media

Wilbur Award trophyCHICAGO — At its annual convention March 30-April 1 in Chicago, the Religion Communicators Council will honor secular media for excellence in communicating religious issues, positive values and themes by presenting its annual Wilbur Awards.

The deadline for entries is February 6.

“We are accepting entries for work produced in 2016 in media such as print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures – a total of seven categories,” said Shirley Struchen, RCC’s Executive Director and Wilbur Award Coordinator.

Primary criteria for Wilbur Awards are content, creativity, impact and excellence in communicating religious values. The Wilbur Awards are one of the oldest recognition programs in religion communication and have been presented annually since 1949. Complete information can be found on the Wilbur Awards page at

Past Winners represented The Oprah Winfrey Network; Belief Blog, CNN; Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins publishing; CBS Television News; St. Louis Post-Dispatch; WATE-TV, Knoxville, Tennessee; The Huffington Post and WLRN-Miami Herald News as well as motion picture producers, bloggers, and book authors.

The 2017 awards will be presented April 1 in Chicago, IL, during the council’s national convention. Winners receive a handcrafted stained-glass trophy and national recognition for their work.

The theme for the annual gathering is “Virtually Here, There and Everywhere: Faith Communications and Presence.” At the convention, RCC will also present the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial awards, which recognize excellence in religious communication and public relations by active RCC members.

“The Religion Communicators Council has been fostering faith communicators in their professional development for nearly a century.  The annual convention features keynotes, field trips, how-to workshops, awards galas, exhibits and networking,” said Rev. Bud Heckman, RCC national vice-president and a co-chair of the convention planning committee.

Among confirmed plenary and keynote addresses and leaders for the convention are:

  • Covering Christianity: The Great Temptations with presenters Mark Galli (Christianity Today), Joyce Duriga (Catholic New World) and serving as moderator, Bill Aiken (Soka Gakkai International)

  • Covering Religion in an Age of Corporatized Media and Self-made Bubbles with panel members Manya Brachear Pashman (the Chicago Tribune), Mariam Sobh (CBS Radio) and others still to be finalized. Rev. Bud Heckman (Interfaith Funders Group) will convene and moderate.

  • How I Stopped Worrying and Became a Moderate Muslim with Wajahat Ali (Affinis Labs)

A complete list of plenaries and workshop presenters is available at RCC convention web page. Newly confirmed is an option to purchase tickets (approx. $40) via pre-registration only for A Night of Improv at the Second City Comedy Club.

For more information on the convention, including hotel information and registration, please visit the convention registration web site. Full registration is $395, and includes all presentations, workshops, scheduled meals, and awards banquets. Spouses or partners may attend for $295. Students can attend for $200. Individual event tickets will also be available from the event registration site.


About the Religion Communicators Council

RCC logoThe Religion Communicators Council (RCC), founded in 1929, is an association of communications professionals who work for and with a diverse group of faith-based organizations in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and development.


Shirley Struchen
(212) 870-2402

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