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Religion Communication Congress 2020 Welcomes New Leadership

Fr. James (Jim) Gardiner

Fr. James (Jim) Gardiner has been named the Chair of Religion Communication Congress 2020. Currently the director of special projects at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C., Jim is a Bronx-born Franciscan Friar of the Atonement (Graymoor). A graduate of St. Pius X Seminary and the Catholic University of America, Fr. Jim Gardiner, SA, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1969. He has ministered in New York City, College Park (MD), Akron (OH) and twice in Garrison (NY) – first as communications director for the Friars and later as director of the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center. He has also been an active member of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC), formerly Religious Public Relations Council (RPRC), since 1974 and currently serves as part of the Washington D.C. chapter of the same organization.

Marvelous things are happening as we continue preparations for Religion Communication Congress 2020. As of September 2018, we have over 90 Cooperating Organizations and that number continues to grow. The Congress will be held March 17-21, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in the Washington D.C. area. Mark your calendars and start planning for your stay in this remarkable city.

The theme for our program has been chosen: “Communicating Faith in the Public Square.” This is a theme that resonates with the current atmosphere both in the media and among various political climates around the world. “With so-called fake news itching to become the new normal, it’s more important than ever for faith communities to strengthen their relationships with one another, address together neuralgic issues that divide and share the healing balm that only faith can offer,” says new Chair, Fr. Jim Gardiner. We welcome Jim and offer our support as he tackles both the challenges and creative initiatives accompanying his new post.

Additionally, Philip Poole, APR has stepped down from his role as coordinator and transitioned to the Development and Finance committee where his extensive knowledge and expertise are tremendously useful. We thank Philip for his enthusiasm and leadership!

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Planning Continues for Religion Communication Congress 2020

Hyatt Regency Crystal City

Plans continue for Religion Communication Congress 2020 (RCCongress 2020), a once-a-decade international gathering of professional religion communicators from a wide range of faith traditions.

As of September 4, 2018, 85 interfaith organizations have committed to support RCCongress 2020, which is scheduled for March 17-21, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Cooperating organizations include large international organizations, small non-profits, academic institutions and consulting agencies. Coordination continues with a representative steering committee to plan the Congress program and other logistical details.

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Nashville Chapter explores religion reporting in today's world

Holly Meyer

The Nashville Chapter had a great meeting in August at United Methodist Communications. It was a lunch and learn with Holly Meyer, Religion Reporter for The Tennessean. Holly spoke about the changing landscape of religious reporting and the challenges of communicating faith issues through mainstream media.

She gave many personal examples of her experiences in religious reporting including how she came to be a religion reporter – in fact, she is the only religion reporter in the entire USA Today Network. She said there are other reporters who do write religious stories, but she is the only one with that sole focus. You might think this makes sense as Nashville is termed the "Buckle of the Bible Belt." However, Holly reported that Nashville is practically tied with New York in the percentage of the population that reports "no religious affiliation" with New York's being 22% in 2016, and Nashville at 21%  (source: The American Values Atlas).

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D.C. Chapter hears from NAB and NABEF on new Reporting on Religion project

Marcellus Alexander presenting at the meeting.

(Photo by Cherilyn Crowe)

The National Association of Broadcasters and the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation are spearheading an initiative to provide a toolkit for local television and radio stations when they report on religion. The toolkit is also being made available to university journalism schools across the country. At the June meeting of the D.C. Chapter of the Religion Communicators Council, the leaders of NAB and NABEF shared the vision for the project and the progress they have made.

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RCC hears from Rev. Michael Waters, Wilbur Award winning author

Rev. Dr. Michael Waters (r) is pictured with Gusto! host Myron Knudson (l) prior to the Wilbur Award winner giving a presentation for the speakers program and Dallas-Ft. Worth Chapter of RCC.

Half a hundred, including members of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Chapter of RCC, gathered recently to hear 2018 Wilbur Award winner, Rev. Dr. Michael Waters, speak on topic of Social Justice, Hope and Empowerment. Dr. Waters presentation was sponsored by the Gusto! program at King of Glory Lutheran Church in Dallas. He won the Wilbur award for his non-fiction book titled, Stakes is High: Race, Faith, and Hope for America.

Dr. Waters opened with the honest comment that in the morning’s presentation his responsibility “was not to make you comfortable.” He went on to tell attendees that, “If I disturb, then perhaps that will motivate to action.”

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