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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Outcalt writes second book with universal religious themes

Review of Common Ground: Lessons and Legends from the World’s Great Faiths

By Daniel R. Gangler*

Common Ground: Lessons and Legends from the World’s Great Faiths by Todd Outcalt

For the second time in as many years, Todd Outcalt has written a book which broadens his readership beyond a Christian audience to include people of historic faith groups worldwide. This one is titled Common Ground: Lessons and Legends from the World’s Great Faiths (Skyhorse, 2015). This book of stories and legends affirms there is a common ground or common themes in the sacred scriptures and other wisdom literature we collectively hold dear despite our theological or geographical moorings.

In Common Ground, Outcalt, a prolific writer and senior pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church in the Indianapolis suburb of Brownsburg, Indiana, goes beyond Christianity in projecting a wider source of not only Christian and Jewish Scriptures and other writings, but also Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American, Confucian, Sikh and other sacred writings. In fact, from time to time, he even considers wisdom literature beyond any sacred sources, such as Aesop and famous internationally-known authors of previous centuries.


Most of the busiest U.S. airports have dedicated chapels

chart showing types of chapels in major airportsTravelers often arrive at airports praying that the security lines won’t be too long or that they don’t end up in a middle seat. But at many of the nation’s largest airports, there’s a more spiritual setting for offering up prayers – a chapel.

In fact, more than half of the nation’s busiest airports have dedicated chapels, and many of these facilities offer a variety of worship services for different faith traditions.

Read more on the Pew Research Center web site...

James Dunn, robust advocate for religious liberty, dies July 4

James DunnJames M. Dunn, one of Baptists’ most well-known advocates for religious liberty and separation of church and state, died July 4 a few weeks after his 83rd birthday in Winston-Salem, N.C.

During his nearly two decades as executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and for 12 years prior to that as executive director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, Dunn’s colorful rhetoric and take-no-prisoners approach in defense of liberty earned him the reverence and fury of Baptists across the theological spectrum.

Read full story on the Baptist News site...

Philip Poole, APR, past President of RCC writes:

“Dr. James Dunn was a champion of religious liberty, an advocate for religious tolerance and understanding, and a supporter of the purpose of the Religion Communicators Council. He worked tirelessly for more than 50 years to ensure that people of all faiths could experience religious liberty. He was not afraid to speak his mind or to oppose leaders whose intents he did not see as being in the best interests of the people. He was as comfortable in the halls of Congress as he was speaking to a small rural congregation. Shellyn and I personally were blessed to know James as a role model, mentor, encourager, and, most importantly, friend. The world is a better place because of James Dunn.”

Marking 50 years of work between WCC, Roman Catholics

ROME (WCC) — A public event at the Centro Pro Unione in Rome on June 23 marked the 50th anniversary of the Joint Working Group between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches. The group is one of the ecumenical legacies of improved relations among churches growing from the Second Vatican Council.

Read more on the WCC site...

Text of President Obama’s ‘Amazing Grace’ eulogy for Charleston pastor

President Obama at the Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s funeralAt the Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s funeral on June 26, President Obama spoke of the black church as the bulwark of the people, of gun violence and racism. But he wove it all in to a meditation on God’s grace.

The video of the entire service and the full text of President Obama's eulogy as released and annotated by the White House is available on the Religion News Service (RNS) site.

Bishop Norris introduces the President approximately half way through the video at 1:21.05. Although the written text does not fully convey the impact of the president singing Amazing Grace at the end of his message, it is captured on the video.

Read more and see video on the RNS web site...

Preaching Reflections on the Charleston, SC, Shooting

In light of this week’s shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, several ON Scripture writers took a few moments to reflect upon what they would/will be preaching on this Sunday. To continue the conversation, join us on Twitter at #ONScripture.

RCC member Nick Stuart is President & CEO of ON Scripture and RCC member Selby Ewing is ON Scripture – The Bible™ Project Director.

Read more on the Odyssey Networks web site...

Prayer and Statements for Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Casey TomOur thoughts and prayers go out to families and members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church who have suffered this great loss. Our hearts ache from the pain caused by this senseless act of violence.

~ Casey Tom, RCC President

Prayer from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, God who has brought us thus far on our way, only you know why someone would enter into your house of worship and open fire on your children. Only you know why hate would run so deep that it would cause one of your creations to kill others you have formed. In our confusion over this senseless act, we appeal to you for understanding and courage to continue to fight for justice. We pray right now for the families of those who lost lives at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. on June 17, and ask that you would wrap your loving arms around them and the entire community. Likewise, we pray for the continued racial unrest and violence that permeates the United States and the world, and ask you to guide us to work earnestly for change. Now unto you who is able to keep us from falling, we pray all these things.


NCC Statement on Charleston Shootings

NCCC logoThe National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA expresses its deep sadness at the news of the mass killings last night at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. We extend prayers to the families of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, his sister, and all others who died in another senseless mass shooting in our nation.

Every death as a result of gun violence personally affects the churches in this country, but these shootings are felt even more personally by members of the National Council of Churches as the African Methodist Episcopal Church is a founding member denomination and has three representatives on the Governing Board, including Rev. William Miller, pastor of St. John AME, just west of Charleston.

We pray the assailant will be apprehended as soon as possible and brought into custody. We pray the motives behind this horrible act will be discovered, and that we as a society may finally draw lessons from it that bring life to our nation. We pray the families of Rev. Pinckney, his sister, and others who were killed are finding comfort in Jesus at this moment. We pray the members of the congregation will find aid and help in the Lord.

All of us together through the National Council of Churches provide a network of prayer around Emanuel Church and all in the AME family as they weep and mourn those who have been lost. And, we pray that this tragedy will finally result in action by state, local, and national officials to address and end the rampant gun violence in our nation.

Statement on the Tragic Shooting in Charleston, South Carolina from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America

The president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, Daniel R. Jackson, issued the following statement on June 18, 2015 in response to shooting death of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South, Carolina: 

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America is heartbroken by the senseless killing of the Reverend Clementa Pickney and eight other worshipers during Wednesday evening service in their church. We are saddened by the heartache it has caused their family, the members of the Emanuel AME Church, and the Charleston community. We extend our deepest condolences and continue to pray for the victims and their families.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church condemns not only the killing of any person, but also the hatred, based on a person's race, that apparently motivated this shooting. We believe that God loves all of His children equally, regardless of race, gender, religion, or lifestyle, and we are called to do the same.

We again call for open, honest, and civil conversation about the realities of the racial divide that continues to plague this country. This conversation must focus on the rights and equality of every member of our communities.

We stand with the people of Charleston and indeed across North America that strive to be agents of peace, love, and grace in their communities.

To bring a lasting change we, as a church, must always treat all people with the love and compassion that Jesus modeled for us. While last night in Charleston, hate took the lives of nine innocent people, we know that in the end love will win.  

“We once again pray for the day when all of God’s children will treat each other without suspicion, bias and hatred. As the Apostle Paul reminds us: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28, NKJV)’”

RCC Wilbur Winner is recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award

Richard Dujardin

Richard Dujardin, former religion reporter for The Providence (R.I.) Journal, will be honored with the William A. Reed Lifetime Achievement Award at the 66th RNA Annual Conference awards banquet Aug. 29, 2015, in Philadelphia.

Created in 2001, the award is presented to individuals who demonstrate exceptional long-term commitment and service to the Religion Newswriters Association and its members, and to the field of religion reporting.

In addition to this award and several others, Dujardin has received three Wilbur Awards from the Religion Communicators Council.

Read more on the RNS site...

WACC General Secretary appointed to second term

Karin Achtelstetter

WACC's Board of Directors has re-appointed the Rev. Dr. Karin Achtelstetter as General Secretary.

Installed in 2010, Achtelstetter has overseen the implementation of WACC's current Strategic Plan 2012-2016, established new relationships with ecumenical and secular partners, and consolidated WACC's position as an international non-governmental organization focusing on communication rights.

Confirming the appointment, WACC President Dr Dennis Smith said, “Karin came to WACC during a time of transition. I have been thankful for her strong leadership and her commitment to working closely with WACC's global membership. Under her leadership we have been able to strengthen our relationship with historic partners in the ecumenical movement while simultaneously raising WACC's profile as a promoter of communication rights within the UN system and other international organizations.”

Read more on the WACC site...

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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