Matters of Church and State, not so separate among winning entries for 2018 Wilbur Awards

Religion Communicators Council honors 22 for work during 2017

Wilbur Award trophy

Wilbur Award winners receive a handcrafted stained-glass trophy and national recognition for their work.

NEW YORK — From the President’s televangelist advisor, immigration, to Muslims in America – this year’s 2018 Wilbur Award winners aren’t afraid to dive into the well of divisive issues to find inclusion, unity and understanding throughout vast communities of diverse belief systems.

The Religion Communicators Council announced 22 Wilbur Award winners March 5. The awards honor excellence by individuals in secular media – print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures – for communicating religious issues, values and themes during 2017.


Spotlight on Speakers

We are looking forward to greeting you in Atlanta, GA April 5-7. Join us as we remember that April 4th is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Our workshops and plenary sessions will give a kalidoscope of past history and how we move forward as faith based communicators.

March 13 is the deadline for early bird registration and Sheraton Atlanta reservations.

Opening Plenary

Realizing the Dream of Peace and Justice through Communication

Byron ThomasThe Rev. Dr. Byron E. Thomas has served as senior pastor of Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta since June 2013. He has emphasized mission by the members to the community and beyond.

The congregation supports the needs of the less fortunate in metro Atlanta through its Commission on Missions, Health and Wellness Ministry, Urban Responsibility Ministry (financial assistance to those in need), Food Bank, and Trinity Table feeding program. The congregation supports the United Negro College Fund, Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta's Interdenominational Theological Center, Clark-Atlanta University, Paine College, and the N.A.A.C.P.

Before Ben Hill, Thomas served two other Atlanta congregations: Central United Methodist Church and Fort Street United Methodist Church. He has directed advocacy by United Methodist congregations across North Georgia as associate director of connectional ministries for the North Georgia Conference.

Choose between 3 accredited tracks for workshops

  • APR logoManagement / APR track
  • Communication techniques track
  • Interfaith issues track

See details on the Convention Schedule and Speakers page.

Workshop | Communication techniques track

Tools for Working Smarter on Social Media

You have an editorial calendar, a media plan and good content to share but not enough time to post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google Plus. A variety of social media tools can help with the workflow of planning and posting. This workshop will focus on Buffer and provide reviews of similar products. Buffer may cut your social media workload in half in a few weeks.

Kurt GwartneyKurt Gwartney (@kgwartney), senior director of seminary relations at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a member of the RCC Board of Governors. He has served as the owner of a video training company, minister of communications at a large United Methodist congregation, public radio news director, and regional communications director for the American Red Cross.

Thursday, April 5 – Tour in AM – No Extra Fee

9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. — Black History Bus Tour departs from hotel (optional, no extra cost)

  • Tour the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center with a visit to the crypts of Coretta and Dr. King, Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Visitor's Center, Gift Shop, and Dr. King's Birth Home.

  • Drive through downtown Atlanta past Atlanta University Center which includes Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and the Morehouse School of Medicine.

  • Tour returns to hotel by 12:30 p.m.


How faith communities use public relations

Join us in Atlanta, Georgia for RCC’s annual convention April 5-7. Theme: Realizing the Dream: Peace and Justice Through Communication. Register online.

Important: March 13th is Early Bird deadline (get the lowest registration rate of $395) and hotel room at Sheraton Atlanta cut off (for the $129 +tax special RCC rate).

Plenary panel

Connecting With People, Sharing Our Message: How Faith Communities Use Public Relations

Religious movements throughout history have used public relations practices. The Apostle Paul's New Testament letters to early Christians have been likened to a modern public relations campaign. Arab public relations scholars have described the Prophet Mohammed as the first public relations practitioner in their culture. He used divine pronouncements to shape social action. In 1622 Pope Gregory XV established the Congregation for Propagating the Faith to counter the Protestant Reformation. The congregation generated writings (“propaganda”) to persuade people to accept the Christian faith and Roman Catholic doctrines.

Since the late 19th century, Christian churches in the United States have used advertising and public relations to reach key populations, deliver organizational messages and promote causes. In fact, public relations practices have become more integrated into faith sharing than many people recognize.

Three public relations scholars will discuss how religion communicators have intentionally used public relations methods to accomplish ministry objectives. Panel participants are:

Doug CannonDouglas Cannon, Ph.D., APR+M, Fellow PRSA (@dcannon) is director of undergraduate programs and professor of practice in the Department of Communication at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).

He is the author of several articles about how religion communicators practice public relations. Those articles include “Not just doers of the word: An updated look at the roles religion communicators play” in Public Relations Journal (Vol. 11, Issue 1, 2017), “Who do you say that I am? A history of how religion communicators have avoided ‘public relations’” in Journal of Public Relations Research (Vol. 27, Issue 3, 2015), and “Not conformed to this world: How U.S. religion communicators public relations” in Public Relations Journal (Volume 5, Issue 3, 2011).

Margot LammeMargot Lamme, Ph.D., APR (@molamme), is a professor of public relations at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

She is the author of Public Relations and Religion in American History: Evangelism, Temperance, and Business (Routledge, 2014).

Cylor SpauldingCylor Spaulding, Ph.D. (@CylorS), is the faculty director and an assistant professor of the practice for the Public Relations and Corporate Communication program at Georgetown University.

He is author of “Building a religious brand: Exploring the foundations of the Church of Scientology through public relations” in the Journal of Public Relations Research (Vol. 29, Issue 1, 2017).

And more, more, more!

Read about all the Convention speakers and schedule.


RCC 2018 discount rates expire March 13

We will meet at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, 165 Courtland Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30303.

Please make your own hotel reservations online or call 800-833-8624; use block code Religion Communicators Council.

Attendees at the 2018 national convention will tour and visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights on Saturday, April 7. Ticket price is included in your registration.

Religion Communicators Council 2018 Convention

Realizing the Dream: Peace and Justice Through Communication

April 5-7, 2018

Sheraton Atlanta Hotel
165 Courtland Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: 404-659-6500

Reserve your hotel room and register for RCC 2018. Special room rates and early bird registration rates expire March 13, 2018.

The 2018 Religion Communicators Council Convention will be held April 5-7, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. The meeting will conclude with the Wilbur Awards Banquet on Saturday night, April 7.

Participants can choose from workshops covering multi-religious activism, enhancing your story with digital media, copyright laws, media monitoring, branding and design, crisis communication, and planning for a national public service announcement campaign.

The workshops are organized into three tracks:

  • Management / APR track
  • Communication techniques track
  • Interfaith issues track


RCC 2018 Registration and Hotel Reservations

RCC 2018 Schedule and Speakers

RCC 2018 Sponsorship and Advertising Opportunities


D.C. Chapter meets at National Press Club

The Washington, D.C. chapter of the Religion Communicators Council held their January 2018 meeting at the National Press Club.

RCC members had lunch at The Reliable Source restaurant and toured the storied building, which includes a full service broadcast studio, a piano scandalously sat on by Lauren Bacall in 1945 as Vice President Harry Truman played it, the city's first post-prohibition liquor license, and other assorted memorabilia.

The National Press Club has more than 3,500 members, including journalists from every major news organization. And, each day, there are journalists doing their work at the Club.

See more photos on the RCC Facebook page

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