2019 Convention: April 10-13, 2019 in Chicago

RCC and ACP will meet jointly and RCC will celebrate its 90th year anniversary, 1929-2019. Theme: Seeing in New Ways: Possibilities and Perceptions

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Wilmer C. Fields, Long time Member of RCC

Wilmer C. Fields

Nashville — Wilmer Clemont ("W.C.") Fields passed away on Dec. 2, 2018. Dr. Fields was a graduate of Louisiana College in Pineville, LA, and held Th.M. and Th.D. degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He was Southern's national alumni president in 1978 and distinguished alumnus of the year in 1986.

Dr. Fields served as pastor of churches in Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi before entering the world of religious communications as editor of the Mississippi Baptist Record newspaper, 1956-1959. He expanded his role as communicator when he became vice president for public relations with the Executive Committee, Southern Baptist Convention from 1959 until his retirement in 1987. In this capacity, he was also SBC press representative, 1959-1987; director of Baptist Press, 1959-87; and editor of The Baptist Program, 1959-72. Dr. Fields was well respected by secular and religious journalists throughout the United States and around the world. Of his service as a religious journalist, Dr. Fields was recognized for his honesty, transparency and integrity.

Dr. Fields was a member of the Religious Public Relations Council (now Religion Communicators Council)1959-87 and served as its national president, 1966-67. He was one of the founders of the international Religion Communication Congress held every 10 years.

He was a member of the Associated Baptist Press (ABP, now Baptist News Global), 1956-87, serving as its national president, 1967-69. Dr. Fields received ABP's 2007 Religious Freedom Award, which honored individuals whose achievements advanced the principles and practice of religious freedom. He was a member of the Baptist Public Relations Association (BPRA), 1959-87, and served as its national president, 1970-71. To honor his foundational role in BPRA, Baptist communicators named their annual awards competition the "Wilmer C. Fields Awards Competition." Dr. Fields was an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, 1959-87, and chairman of its non-profit section for three years.

Dr. Fields was a trustee of the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, and a member of Religion in American Life, the Nashville chapter of National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Nashville Council on Community Services, and the Nashville United Way Campaign. He was listed in Who's Who in America, 1976 to 1987, and received the Good Shepherd Award, Association of Baptists for Scouting in 1981. He was an active member and deacon of Woodmont Baptist Church, Nashville.

Gifts in his honor can be made to the Religion Communicators Council to celebrate his life.

Entry period opens for 2019 Wilbur Awards

Religion Communicators Council to accept submissions until February 6.

Wilbur Award trophyNEW YORK — The Religion Communicators Council (RCC) is accepting entries for the 2019 Wilbur Awards. Secular communicators have until February 6, 2019 to submit work produced during 2018 for consideration in one of the oldest recognition programs in religion communication.

The Council has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949, 70 years! They honor excellence by individuals in secular media – print and online journalism, books, blogs, radio, podcasts and television, movies and photography – in communicating religious issues, positive values, and themes.

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D.C. Chapter discusses the impact of the midterm elections

Just days after the 2018 midterm elections, the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Religion Communicators Council sat down for a roundtable on how the results impact the faith sector’s work. Several religious organizations and denominations have offices in Washington, D.C., and the community is constantly keeping up with Congress and advocating on a wide variety of issues.

Three speakers shared their observations and experiences to start the conversation: Amelia Kegan of the Friends Committee on National Legislation; Sofi Hersher of the Religion Action Center of Reform Judaism; and Shahid Rahman of the American Muslim Institution.

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D.C. Chapter discusses podcasts that are addictive

Steve Martin discusses podcasting at the October 2018 DC Chapter meeting

“If you’re not podcasting, you should be,” said Steven Martin during the October 2018 meeting of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Religion Communicators Council. The DeRose-Hinkhouse winner for podcasting in 2017 led a conversation on the art of creating content for this audio-only medium, which brings you to your audience.

Martin serves as the director of communications and development for the National Council of Churches, and he hosts the National Council of Churches Podcast. He has a breadth of experience with a variety of traditional and digital media, including video editing and filmmaking, podcasting, social media strategies, and more.

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2019 DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards – Open for Entries

The DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards entries are open! Make sure to renew your RCC membership and guarantee your eligibility for the DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards for excellence in religion communication. As you renew, think about the great work you have created this past year and enter it for an award:

  • What projects are you most proud of?

  • What resources did you create that were really helpful?

  • What was your most creative, innovative communications tool of 2018?

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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 Friars 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.

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Tips when covering Islam and Muslims

Wajahat AliTop 30 do's and don'ts when covering Islam and Muslims — Tips from Wajahat Ali, co-host of Al Jazeera America’s The Stream to the 2015 RCC National Convention.

The first three are:

  • Do diversify your portfolio of token Muslims. Different Muslim super heroes have different superpowers.
  • Do not assume Arabs = Muslims and Muslims = Arab. Do not use them interchangeably.
  • Do seek out Muslims who are black and/or white and or other colors. They exist, not all are brown.

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