New York Chapter


  • President: Ryan Koch, Director of the New York Office of Public and International Affairs, LDS Church, New York, New York

  • Past President: Linda Bloom, News Writer, United Methodist Communications, New York, New York

  • Vice President for Programs: Mary Dickey, Writer and Media Specialist at Caryl Communications, Paramus, New Jersey

  • Vice President for Membership/Communications: Jonathan Cooper, Communications Manager for National Association of Episcopal Schools, New York, New York

  • Treasurer: Lisa Webb, Associate Officer, Public Affairs, Office of Communication, The Episcopal Church, New York, New York

Upcoming meetings

When: Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 12pm - 1:30-pm

What: The Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, Executive Director of PARITY will speak with us. Edmonds-Allen has worked with youth and families in various denominations and settings throughout the country for more than 20 years, focusing on strengths-based interventions and supports to affirm beliefs and faith practices for LGBTQ persons. Her organization, Parity, seeks to bridge the divide between LGBT and Religious groups. Edmonds-Allen’s presentation will focus on the language we can use to help bridge that divide.

Where: United Methodist Women Office, 15th Floor, 475 Riverside Drive (corner 120th St)

Cost: $10 for members/$12 for non-members (includes lunch and presentation).

RSVP: Please RSVP by 5 p.m. November 14, to [email protected]

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NY Chapter Audio/Video Archives

Highlights of previous meetings

Exploring America's Sacred Liberty

Steve Waldman, author of the recent book, “Sacred Liberty” and co-founder of Beliefnet, spoke at the October lunch meeting.

Subtitled “America's Long, Bloody, and Ongoing Struggle for Religious Freedom,” “Sacred Liberty’s” overarching point is that religious freedom didn’t miraculously happen the day after the first amendment was passed.

Regular Americans had to fight hard for it over the next 200 years – which Waldman calls “America's greatest invention.”

Telling long-term stories that matter

By Candice Johnson

Sarah Pulliam Bailey at New York Chapter RCC, March 2018

On Tuesday March 21st, the New York City chapter of the RCC met at the Church Pension Group for its monthly lunch meeting. This month’s speaker was Sarah Pulliam Bailey of the Washington Post. Sarah is a religion reporter and currently runs Washington Post’s religion blog, “Acts of Faith.” Her focus is religion’s intersection with everything, including politics, culture and education.

Sarah began by speaking of her experience as a journalist throughout the rise of Trump. She put forth the question, in a time of Trump dominating the news cycle how do we break through as religion communicators? How do we tell long-term stories that matter instead of reacting to every tweet and scandal?


‘Engaging the wider community’ on religious topics

By Linda Bloom

David Gibson at New York Chapter meeting (photo by Ryan Koch)

David Gibson, the well-known Religion News Service reporter, recently spoke with members of the Religion Communicators Council’s New York Chapter about his new position as director of the Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture.

He was part of the chapter’s Nov. 21 lunch meeting in the offices of United Methodist Women at the Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Dr.

According to its website, the center, based at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, “explores the complex relationship between religion and contemporary life in a manner that advances beyond the caricatures and misapprehensions that often form public perceptions and color media coverage about faith issues.”


Making faith connections at the United Nations

By Candice Johnson

Lynnaia Main, Ryan Koch, Chrysula Winegar

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017 the New York Chapter of the Religion Communicators Council gathered at the Episcopal Church Center for its monthly lunch meeting. This month’s speakers were Lynnaia Main who is the Episcopal Church’s Representative to the United Nations and Chrysula Winegar of the United Nations Foundation. They spoke about making faith connections at the United Nations.


When ‘Like’ is Not Enough

By Candice Johnson

Ryan Koch presenting at the New York Chapter meeting

On September 19, 2017 close to 30 people gathered at the Church of Latter Day Saints for the first NYC RCC meeting this Fall. Ryan Koch, NYC RCC Chapter President, was this month’s speaker. He spoke on best practices for social media with his presentation, “When ‘Like’ is Not Enough”. This month’s luncheon was unique in that it was also a webinar for the RCC nationally.

Ryan began his talk explaining that social media was “free like a free puppy”. While social media is a free resource, in order for it to be successful it takes a lot of work to maintain. He then went on the explain that when creating successful social media campaigns to consider ABCDE: audience, behavior, content, design, and evaluation.


It’s all about finding a good story, CBS Sunday Morning producer tells New York Chapter

By Linda Bloom

Casey Tom, president of the national Religion Communicators Council, presenting the Wilbur Award to Dustin Stephens on April 1, 2017.

Photo by George Conklin.

CBS Sunday Morning is always looking for a good story that will appeal to their average audience of 6 million viewers.

The Harmony Project,” says Dustin Stephens, a CBS Sunday Morning producer, was one of those stories and all it took was a telephone conversation with David Brown – the “inspirational and charismatic” leader of the Columbus, Ohio, community choir – to convince him of that.

Stephens, who accepted a Wilbur Award for the story on behalf of his team during the 2017 Religion Communicators Council Convention in Chicago, spoke about the Harmony Project and CBS Sunday Morning at the New York chapter’s May 16 lunch meeting.

Jane Pauley was the correspondent for the piece. Rand Morrison served as executive producer and Lauren Barnello and Carol A. Ross were the editors.

At the beginning, Stephens expected the Harmony Project story would be a secular one, but, he explained, “the spiritual themes were so obvious that we could not ignore them as we put the story together.”


New York Chapter discusses changing landscape in religion news with Tom Gallagher

By Candice Johnson

Tom Gallagher, CEO of Religion News Service, speaking at the RCC New York Chapter in March 2017

On March 21, 2017, the New York Chapter of the Religion Communicators Council met at the Church Pension Group for their monthly luncheon. This month’s speaker was Tom Gallagher, the new CEO of Religion News Service (RNS). Gallagher spoke about his experience reporting on religion, the importance of religion reporting, and looking towards the future for the RNS.

Tom Gallagher started his presentation by giving his background. He had originally worked in finance and in 2009 began work at the National Catholic Reporter, where he wrote about domestic and foreign affairs.


New York Chapter discusses religious literacy with Ariel Ennis

Social media on the cheap. Using an android phone (with a soda can as a tripod), Brian Finnerty livestreamed the RCC meeting using Facebook Live.

Working with the Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership at NYU has given Ariel Ennis unique insights into the role of interfaith dialogue among today’s student population. During his presentation to the RCC New York Chapter in February 2017, Ariel addressed his organization's mission and the role of spirituality in the lives of today's Millennials. He also discussed methods of teaching religious literacy.

The Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership falls under Global Spiritual Life at NYU. An open, authentic, and vibrant community at the forefront of international conversations on religion and spirituality, their mission is to offer environments and tools for transformative multifaith and spiritual encounters at NYU and beyond.

The Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership was featured in a 2015 Wilbur Award winning documentary, Of Many.

New York Chapter learns about Newtown film

Carol Anne Dolan, executive producer of the documentary Newtown, speaks at the New York Chapter meeting

On January 17th, the New York chapter of the RCC met at the Episcopal Church Center for their first meeting of the year. The guest speaker this month was Carol Anne Dolan, executive producer of the documentary “Newtown.”

“Newtown” originated with Odyssey Networks in the weeks after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and is now a coproduction of Transform Films, Odyssey Network's independent film production company.


Susan Sparks: When religion and humor intersect

By Linda Bloom

Susan Sparks at NYC Chapter meeting (photo by Bud Heckman)

Susan Sparks has made a career – make that several careers – at the intersection of religion and humor.

Her philosophy, honed through a personal journey that has taken her from trial lawyer to standup comedian to pastor, is a simple one:

"If you can laugh at yourself, you can forgive yourself and if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others."

Sparks, who leads the historic Madison Avenue Baptist Church in Manhattan and still occasionally takes the stage, was the featured speaker at the Sept. 20 lunch meeting of the New York Chapter of the Religion Communicators Council. The event took place at the Episcopal Center, not far from where world leaders were convening at the United Nations.


NY experiencing “growth in religious expression” Tony Carnes tells NY Chapter

By Linda Unger

Tony Carnes at RCC New York Chapter meeting. Photos by Ryan John Koch.

During its February meeting, the New York chapter hosted Tony Carnes, editor and publisher of the web-based A Journey through NYC Religions. The meeting was held at the offices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which will be one of the venues for RCC’s upcoming 2016 Convention.

Journey is devoted to exploring religious life in every pocket of New York City. A small team of up to four people sets out regularly to any given neighborhood or district across the city’s five boroughs: Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. There they identify houses of worship, interview members and leaders, and record celebrations and events. In 2015, Journey posted 159 articles and 60 videos based on these neighborhood visits.

Carnes said Journey has had more than 31 million views in five years and currently gets about 900,000 views per month. He attributed the interest to what he described as the rapid growth of religion in New York City and the great “media opportunity” that growth affords.


Faith influence at Paris climate summit

The Rev. Pat Watkins talks about faith-based efforts on climate change and the U.N. summit in Paris with members and guests of the New York RCC chapter during a Jan. 12 lunch at the Episcopal Center in Manhattan. Photo by Bud Heckman.

By Linda Bloom, RCC New York Chapter President

In his September address to the United Nations, Pope Francis noted that harm done to the environment is “harm done to humanity.” Those who suffer the most, the Pope said, are the poor and marginalized.

The motivation for many faith groups to go to the Nov. 30 - Dec. 11 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – popularly known as COP21 – was to remind leaders of 195 countries of that fact and particularly to address the immediate needs of poor countries most severely affected by extreme weather.

Two speakers led a conversation about “The Faithful in Paris: Religious Advocacy During and After the Climate Summit” during the Jan. 12 meeting of the New York Chapter of Religion Communicators Council.


NYC Chapter focuses on ‘Building a Better Blog’

By Linda Bloom, RCC New York Chapter President

Panelists discussed “Building a Better Blog” with the RCC New York Chapter during a Sept. 22 meeting at the Interchurch Center.

To be a successful blogger, you have to tweak the writing process to improve interaction with an online readership, a panel of communicators told the New York Chapter of Religion Communicators Council.

“As writers, we like figures of speech, but search engines don’t like figures of speech, they like direct speech,” explained David Tereshchuk, a journalist and contributing correspondent for PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

Objectivity is not a requirement. The Rev. Jennifer Crumpton, who writes a blog directed at women of faith called femmevangelical, said that offering a strong point of view helps attracts followers. “I also find that the more political I get, the more my readership grows,” she added.


May meeting: Allen W. Palmer on “Media and Religion: People of the Book”

Allen Palmer presenting to New York Chapter meeting and luncheon.

Christians, Jews and Muslims all share common religious roots. The New York Chapter of Religion Communicators Council met with Allen W. Palmer in May to explore those roots with his multimedia presentation, “Media and Religion: People of the Book.”

A university professor for more than 35 years, Palmer’s academic work has focused on international communication, mass media and society, and the cultural history of communication. He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Palmer was the Cardin Chair of Judeo-Christian Studies at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland; Director of International Media Studies in the Communications Department, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; Division Head for the International Association of Media & Communication Research; visiting Fulbright professor in Kyrgyz Republic and Namibia and visiting professor in Benin, Mauritius and the Philippines. He is an advisory board member for numerous journals and academic publishers.

Panel reveals its Twitter tips to New York Chapter

By Linda Bloom, RCC New York Chapter President

A New York Chapter panel discussion on Twitter.

When the Presbyterian Church USA recently voted in favor of expanding the denomination’s definition of marriage, Jaweed Kaleem, The Huffington Post's senior religion reporter, was able to track exactly when the deciding votes were cast because he was monitoring a specific hashtag on Twitter.

It would be impossible for Kaleem to read everything in his Twitter feed – he follows nearly 3,000 accounts – but he keeps Twitter on “in the background” during the work day and checks his feed on his phone periodically. He keeps locked lists on Twitter, which only he can access, on people or topics to check for story development.

An information-gathering tool, a platform for action, a branding opportunity, a gossip meter – Twitter is a social media phenomenon that can be many things to many people. But how to best use it?


Making LinkedIn work for you

By Linda Bloom, RCC New York Chapter President

Kevin Ryan at NYC meetingKevin S. Ryan (, a former journalist for the New York Times and Newsday and expert on social marketing for business, offered some helpful tips to the New York Chapter of Religion Communicators Council Nov. 5.

More than 20 participants brought laptops, tablets and smartphones to the workshop setting at the Church World Service conference room in the Interchurch Center.

Ryan offered practical advice on how to craft a LinkedIn profile which, he said, should read like a conversation rather than a résumé.


"Give the Internet a Soul," meeting with Elizabeth Scalia, managing editor of

Our lunch meeting on Tuesday, April 15, featured a stimulating discussion with Elizabeth Scalia, a managing editor of, an online portal that promotes dialogue and offers "credible and balanced information about religion" to faith communities, academics and the broader public.

The group gathered at Opus Dei on East 34th.

Ms. Scalia talked about her Catholicism as a "terrible beauty of a life." And that Patheos features Catholic bloggers with many perspectives.

She discussed her book, "Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life." The blogger of the Anchoress critiqued the "gods" of the internet and social media as shrines to one's self and an "echo chamber."

Despite the internet's "evil," Ms. Scalia found comfort in Pope Benedict's dictate to "give the internet a soul."

Getting the story out is key element of faith-based disaster response

Interfaith Disaster Panel (from left): Peter Gudaitis, NYDIS; Lesley Crosson, CWS; Francesco Paganini, UMCOR; Larry Peterson, LDS (photo by Tara Barnes)

By Linda Bloom, RCC New York Chapter President

Can faith-based organizations fundraise for disaster response without sensationalizing or stereotyping?

Is it possible to explain the complexities of a disaster to donors?

Does the public realize the depth of experience that faith groups have in long-term recovery?

Those were some of the issues raised during a March 19 program on "Communicating in Times of Disaster," hosted by the RCC New York Chapter at the Interchurch Center, popularly known as "475" for its address on Riverside Drive in Manhattan.


"Begin at the ground up" to reach young people says Father Dave Dwyer to New York chapter

Father Dave and RCC President Jay Rollins share a laugh at Thursday's luncheon. (photo by M.B. Coudal)

Father Dave Dwyer, CSP, of Busted Halo, delivered a thought-provoking presentation at the February New York Chapter meeting on how religious groups can best reach young people.

He talked about the vast differences between generations. Whereas in our grandparents' and parents' days, people were religious and not spiritual, today, the opposite is true.

People are less loyal to religious organizations. Father Dave said, "It works the other way too, organizations are less loyal to individuals."


NY chapter learns about Religion News Service

Sara Michaels and Sarah Pulliam Bailey share a laugh at the November NYC meeting.

Thanks for joining us on Tuesday, November 19, for our luncheon meeting with Sarah Pulliam Bailey, national correspondent for Religion News Service.

Religion News Service is a news agency reporting on religion, ethics, spirituality and moral issues. Before joining RNS, Bailey was managing editor for Odyssey Networks, covering religion through multimedia. She previously spent four years as online editor for Christianity Today. Her articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, CNN and the Chicago Sun-Times, and have won awards from the Religion Newswriters Association and the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

Our lunch meeting took place at the Mormon Temple Building, third floor, 125 Columbus Avenue (and 65th Street).


On the value of RCC

Brian FinnertyRCC provides great opportunities for professional development, networking, and a unique type of interfaith collaboration.

Here in New York, for example, we have monthly lunches with a guest speaker – either an expert in some aspect of communications or a journalist covering religion. These meetings with journalists have made it possible for me to learn the needs of these journalists and to establish a personal connection for the next time I reach out to them.

Another great aspect of RCC is the ability to contribute to the organization itself. I have served as president of the local chapter, assisted with organizing the national conference, and served as a member of the national board. It's been a rewarding experience.

Finally, RCC represents a unique forum for interfaith cooperation. Whatever faith tradition we are from, we all want to hone or professional skills. RCC is a place to accomplish this goal, learning from and developing friendships with colleagues of different faiths.

Brian Finnerty
U.S. Communications Director
Opus Dei


Video and Audio Archive of Past RCC New York Chapter Meetings

John P. Blessington and Liz Kineke

Paul at RCCNYC April 2011Executive Producer John P. Blessington and Producer Liz Kineke, of CBS Television's Religion and Culture Series, spoke at the RCC NYC Chapter meeting in April 2011.

Listen to MP3 audio of John P. Blessington and Liz Kineke

Arnold Labaton

Arnold Labaton at RCCNYC March 2011Arnold Labaton of Religion and Ethics spoke at the RCC NYC chapter meeting in March 2011.

Listen to MP3 of Arnold Labaton.

Rosanna Scotto

Rosanna Scotto at RCCNYC January 2011Rosanna Scotto, co-anchor of WNYW's Good Day New York, spoke at the RCC NYC chapter meeting in January 2011. Learn more about Rosanna Scotto at Wikipedia.

Listen to MP3 audio of Rosanna Scotto or watch videos below.

Rosanna Scotto, Part 1

Rosanna Scotto, Part 2

Tom Ehrich

Tom Ehlrich at RCCNYC November 2010Tom Ehrich spoke at the RCC NYC chapter meeting in January 2010. He discusses how religious organizations can use social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter), blogs, e-mail, and new marketing tools.

Listen to MP3 audio of Tom Ehrich or watch videos below.

Your Church and Social Media, Part 1 with Tom Ehrich.

Your Church and Social Media, Part 2 with Tom Ehrich.

Deacon Greg Kandra

Deacon Greg Kandra at RCCNYC September 2010Deacon Greg Kandra of New Evangelization Television spoke at the RCC NYC chapter meeting in September, 2010.

Listen to MP3 audio of Deacon Greg Kandra

Paul Raushenbush

Paul at RCCNYC April 2010Paul Raushenbush of The Huffington Post spoke at the RCC NYC chapter meeting in April 2010.

Listen to MP3 audio of Paul Raushenbush.

Joshua M. Greene and Shiva Kumar

Joshua M. Greene and Shiva Kumar at RCCNYC March 2010 Joshua M. Greene and Shiva Kumar at RCCNYC March 2010Joshua M. Greene and Shiva Kumar spoke at the RCC NYC chapter meeting in March 2010 about using video for effective communication.

Listen to MP3 audio of Shiva Kumar and Joshua M. Greene or watch video.

Joshua M. Greene is an Emmy-Award nominated filmmaker and author of several bestselling books on faith and religion.

Shiva Kumar, an awardwinning media producer and director, has worked in commercial and corporate filmmaking for over 20 years.

Shiva offers tips on how to incorporate video to deliver your message.

Terry Mattingly

Terry MattinglyTerry Mattingly spoke at the RCC NYC chapter meeting in February 2010.

Terry directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and writes a weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service. He also leads the website that critiques the mainstream media's coverage of religion news.

Watch video or listen to MP3 audio of Terry Mattingly.

Ansley Roan

Ansley Roan at RCCNYC Jan 2010Ansley Roan of Beliefnet spoke at the RCC NYC chapter meeting in January 2010.

Listen to MP3 audio of Ansley Roan.

David Gibson

David Gibson at RCCNYC Oct 2009

David Gibson of "ReligionLink" and "" spoke at the RCC NYC chapter meeting on Oct. 20, 2009.

Listen to MP3 audio of David Gibson.

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