May/June 2019 Update

Religion Communication Congress 2020

Wajahat Ali

Look back… then look forward.

Wajahat Ali is a political commentator, New York Times op-ed writer, and spoke to RCC at our 2017 convention in Chicago (the look back…).

(The look ahead…) He will be one of an exceptional lineup of plenary speakers, presenters, and workshop leaders at the March 17-21, 2020 Religion Communication Congress 2020 (RCCongress 2020). Ali regularly appears on cable news and radio to discuss politics, religion, foreign policy and culture. Congress theme is “Communicating Faith in the Public Square.” Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Washington DC area will be the venue.

Religion Communication Congress 2020

RCC is one of 100+ organizations that are cooperating to present this once-a-decade gathering of professional religion communicators from a wide range of faith traditions. Our 2020 annual meeting will take place during RCCongress 2020. Save the dates and room in your budget.

Learn more on the Religion Communication Congress 2020 website.

Member news

Megan Anderson

Congratulations to Megan Anderson (Member-at-Large) for completing her Master of Arts Degree at Claremont School of Theology. Anderson is webmaster and Associate Editor for The Interfaith Observer.


Rev. Steve Horswill-Johnston

Congratulations Rev. Steve Horswill-Johnston (Nashville Chapter) awarded Distinguished Alumnus for 2019 from Claremont School of Theology. The notice from Claremont read in part, “…and thank you for the many ways you've passionately and creatively served the church!” Read more at Living into the Brand Promise. Horswill-Johnston is Director of Communications and Brand Strategy at the United Methodist Church Discipleship Ministries.


Karri Whipple

Karri Whipple (New York Chapter) announces a new position. “I am thrilled to announce that beginning this fall, I will be the Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow at New York University. I am honored to join the innovative and interdisciplinary faculty of the Liberal Studies program and to work with such inquisitive, globally minded students. I am grateful to the many of you who have accompanied me on this journey. In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined it would lead here!”

New member: Brittany Crawford (Member-at-Large) – Communications Coordinator at First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin.

Membership special for 90th Anniversary – RCC is celebrating 90 years with a special membership rate of $90 from March 10 to December 31, 2019.


Thanks to those who have given to support RCC. Any time you want to honor or remember a colleague, friend or loved one, a gift to RCC is a way to do that and help fund the organization’s work.

Annual Fund – Arthur E.P. Wall; Jackie Fuller; Tom McAnally; Danny Hall; Mike Maus; Susan Gottshall; Kurt Gwartney; Katherine Kerr; Deb Christian; Tasha Sargent; Cherilyn Williams; Joan Gaylord and Paula Watson in honor of Rod Hargo.

Wilbur Award History 101

Left: Photo of the original “lost” Wilbur Award

Right: May 2019 replica of original made from photo

The Wilbur Awards honor Marvin C. Wilbur, a pioneer in the field of religious public relations and a long-time member of the Religion Communicators Council. Mr. Wilbur was the recipient of one of the original individually hand-crafted stained-glass trophy awards. His widow, Marie, passed away in the winter of 2018 and his original Wilbur trophy was inadvertently and mistakenly discarded by staff at her nursing home. In a letter the Wilbur family expressed they were, “…hoping that there might be a way to replace his award so that it could be displayed in a special library room of their church….”

Emmanuel Studios is the designer and supplier for the beautiful and unique awards and has graciously reproduced (from a photo) that original award. In an early May communication from Emmanuel, we learned “the new ‘original’ award is done” and as soon as the base plaque is prepared and attached, it will be ready to present to the Wilbur family.

So, besides a story of kindness, what? Start noticing and noting NOW, books, columns, photos, documentaries, movies, podcasts, etc. produced by secular media that show and promote excellence in the presentation of religious and faith values. Do your best to get contact info on the producer of the piece and be ready to invite them to enter the Wilbur Awards competition for work done in 2019. The Wilbur Awards banquet presentation will take place at the RCCongress 2020 meeting on Friday, March 20, 2020.

Remember the Chicago convention? Want to see photos?

Feel free to access and USE (on LinkedIn? Your website? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? etc., etc.) photos from the recent RCC/ACP joint convention that met in Chicago.

Here are the links on Flickr:

One other resource from the convention – slides from Raven Lanier, who gave the copyright law workshop, are on the RCC SlideShare site.

RCC Update by Deb Christian, RCC Board Member and National Past President

Send your news to share with other RCC members to [email protected].

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