Religion communicators explore peace and justice through communication

By Patrick Horn

Shirley Struchen, executive director of RCC, speaks at the opening plenary session of the 2018 convention (photo by George Conklin).

Religion communicators, meeting in Atlanta last week during the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, explored how communication could help advance peace and justice. The theme for the 89th annual national convention of the Religion Communicators Council, which ran from April 5 through 7, was “Realizing the Dream: Peace and Justice Through Communication.”

The Religion Communicators Council is an organization of interfaith communication and public relations professionals founded in 1929. They present the prestigious Wilbur Award of excellence for secular journalism on religious issues and the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards for members who demonstrate excellence in communications.

Excellence and merit awards were presented during the April 5 DeRose-Hinkhouse ceremony to groups as diverse as the Islamic Society of North America, Scientology Media Productions, National Catholic Reporter, Bread for the World, and Samford University.

The 2018 Wilbur Awards honored stories ranging from the perception of Muslims in America, sanctuary for immigrants, and the hypocrisy of religious freedom to the state of race through the eyes of faith and religion. A complete list of winners is available on the Wilbur Awards web page.

The evening was hosted by M. Alexis Scott, journalist, political commentator, and Atlanta community leader. Dr. Andrew “Andy” B. Rawls produced the 2018 Wilbur Awards for the 28th year. He received a “Special Wilbur” in 2012 as Producer Extraordinaire for his many years of creative production.

The 22 winners join a distinguished class of alumni that include names such as Morgan Freeman, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Pauley, Mister Rogers, CBS Sunday Morning, ABC 20/20, Meet the Press, Vanity Fair, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the New York Times.

Members toured the Center for Civil and Human Rights and visited the King Center on the anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. They also participated in workshops to build skills in leadership, crisis communications, reputation management, social media strategies, and more. They heard from experts in interreligious dialogue and social justice. News stories are available on the RCC Convention web page.

The annual convention was sponsored by the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, Kingswood Productions, Phillips Seminary, and Wells Publishing.

Doug Cannon of Virginia Tech University and Jeff Huett of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship served as Program Chairs. Amelia Tucker-Shaw of Diversified Communications Services was Coordinator. Angelyn Current was responsible for Arrangements. Susan Gottshall was Registrar.

Next year the convention will be in Chicago.


Contact: Shirley Struchen, [email protected], 212-870-2402

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