Faith and change go hand in hand, Mitch Albom tells faith communicators

by Ryan Miller

Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom

Photo by David Skidmore

CHICAGO (RCCongress2010), April 7 — When it comes to faith, Mitch Albom believes in the power to change.

Opening the Religion Communication Congress 2010 in Chicago, an April 7-10 gathering of communication professionals from a spectrum of religions and denominations, the sports journalist and best-selling author laced together two stories of faithful change.

The first: Albom's own eight-year process of returning to religion while preparing to preach the eulogy of his childhood rabbi. The second: the story of Henry Covington, a drug-dealer-turned-pastor ministering to the indigent, poor and homeless of Detroit.


Nine students explore religion communication

by Douglas F. Cannon, RCC President

RCC scholarship students

Scholarship students gather after the 2009 Wilbur Awards ceremony March 28 in Cambridge, Mass.

Nine students are exploring possible careers in religion communication this year, thanks to the Religion Communicators Council.

The students began their 12-month journey during the 2009 RCC National Convention in Cambridge, Mass. The nine received scholarships from RCC to attend the March 25-28 gathering. There they met council members, program leaders and individual mentors.

Those RCC mentors are to work one-on-one with students through April 2010, offering advice, counsel and encouragement.


Religion communicators moved by screening of Reel Bad Arabs

by John Daniel Gore, Michigan State University

The World Association of Christian Communicators North America offered a free screening of Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People for members of the Religion Communicators Council March 26, 2009.

Jack Shaheen

Dr. Jack Shaheen answers questions about Reel Bad Arabs March 26.

The documentary features acclaimed author and media critic Jack Shaheen, who attended the screening during the 2009 RCC National Convention in Cambridge, Mass., and answered questions afterward.

Dr. Shaheen, for lack of a better word, is an amiable gentleman. RCC scholarship recipient Rob Collingsworth described him as “chill,” which decodes as amiable in a twenty-something-year-old mind.

Behind a small lectern in the Royal Sonesta Hotel Riverfront Room in Cambridge, Dr. Shaheen remarked that he was “at peace” speaking to the religion communicators. That would come as no surprise by the evening’s end.


Religion communicators can reframe debate

by Polly House, Nashville Chapter

Richard Parker

Richard Parker of Harvard University delivers the keynote address to the 2009 Religion Communicators Council National Convention in Cambridge, Mass.

Religion communicators must come up with words to reframe the debate about religious diversity in the public sphere.

Richard Parker, who teaches religion, politics and public policy at the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, delivered that message March 26 in Cambridge, Mass. He was keynote speaker for the 2009 Religion Communicators Council National Convention. It met in Cambridge March 26-28, 2009.

“It is a challenge to recognize diversity and at the same time grow in community,” said Parker, senior fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.


Religion beat caught in U.S. journalism changes

By Chris Herlinger, New York Chapter

journalists panel

Three journalists discuss how their organizations approach religion news during the 2009 Religion Communicators Council national convention.

The journalists are (from left) Rachel Zoll, national religion writer for the Associated Press; John Yemma, senior editor of The Christian Science Monitor; and Michael Paulson, religion reporter for The Boston Globe.

News coverage of the U.S. religious landscape has in recent years gained visibility because of increased interest in faith-related issues.

But now the religion beat faces an uncertain future, given the current flux in U.S. journalism, prominent religion journalists told the Religion Communicators Council National Convention in Cambridge, Mass.

“The religion beat is suffering collateral damage,” reporter Michael Paulson, who covers religion for The Boston Globe, said during the council’s March 26-28, 2009 meeting.

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