History

1970 in Chicago, IL

The first Congress was held in 1970 in Chicago. More than 400 people attended and caught the idea to plan for next decade.

1980 in Nashville, TN

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RCCongress 1980: Ethics in Communication
The 1980 Congress, held in Nashville, drew more than 1,000 national and international participants from a dozen countries.

Curtis Chambers, General Secretary of United Methodist Communications, served as general chairman.

Program highlight included discussion of issues related to “Ethics in Communication” – professional ethics, the free flow of information, access to media, advocacy, investigative reporting, the role of new technology, and many more.

Speakers included:

  • Max Robinson of the American Broadcasting Company
  • Paul Duke of Public Broadcasting
  • Wesley Pippert of United Press International White House staff
  • Marjorie Hyer of The Washington Post
  • Harvey Cox of Harvard Divinity School
  • Martin Marty of the University of Chicago Divinity School

1990 in Nashville, TN

Communication Power

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The RCCongress 1990 theme, Communication Power, helped participants understand:

  • The Power of Media to Shape Values
  • The Power of Technology to Impact State Destinies
  • The Power of Commitment to Effect Change
  • The Power of Entertainment Media to Influence Culture
Throughout the 1980s, a core group of planners met to continue the networking values of the 1970 and 1980 congresses.

This led to the 1990 Congress, again in Nashville, where 1,100 people gathered representing 66 communication organizations, many of which held meetings in conjunction with the Congress.

Monica M. McGinley, National Public Relations Director for the Medical Mission Sisters, served as chairperson.

Speakers included:

  • Steve Allen, original host of the NBC Tonight Show
  • Pauline Web, author lay-preacher, BBC producer, director, writer, and host
  • Kate Adie, BBC reporter and the last journalist to leave Tiananmen Square following the military break-up of the student demonstrations in Beijing, China
  • Donna Demac, Esq., author, legal consultant in areas of broadcast and satellite communications and adjunct associate professor at New York University
  • Cardinal Jaime Sin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila Philippines and outstanding human rights advocate
  • Seymour Reich, Esq., President of B'nai B'rith International, and chairman of both the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations

2000 in Chicago, IL

Faith Stories in a Changing World

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The RCCongress 2000 theme, Faith Stories in a Changing World, used a flower symbol representing growth and life, key elements of every faith group. The five petals represented five major areas of work for religion communicators:

  • artistic
  • cyberspace
  • electronic
  • spoken
  • written
In 2000, the Congress returned to Chicago, and 1,300 people brought their energy and enthusiasm to starting a new century of religion communication.

Shirley Whipple Struchen, Producer at United Methodist Communications, served as chair.

Participants represented more than 65 organizations from across North America and around the world. Over 80 cooperating organizations partnered in the success of the event with many holding concurrent meetings with the Congress.

Speakers included:

  • Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, political and human rights activist, diplomat and president and founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Inc.
  • Martin Marty, author, theologian, and well-known authority on American religious tradition
  • Mary Alice Williams, Emmy Award-winning journalist and host of the Quiet Triumphs interview program on the Odyssey Network
  • Derrick de Kerckhove, Director of the McCluhan Program at the University of Toronto
  • Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, human rights activist and esteemed former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ
  • Rev. Patrick Anthony, Catholic priest who serves as the Caribbean regional president of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC)
  • Carlos Valle, a Methodist from Argentina and the WACC general secretary
  • John White, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist with the Chicago Sun-Times
  • Dayton Edmonds, Native American storyteller

2010 in Chicago, IL

Embracing Change: Communicating Faith in Today’s World

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RCCongress 2020: Embracing Change: Communicating Faith in Today’s World
The focus in 2010 was embracing change.
  • Social change invites us to new ministries.
  • Religious change invites us to new dialog.
  • Technological change entices us to new modes of reaching out.

As communicators, we have ever-advancing tools, but we also see a power shift in publishing: through tools such as blogs, everyone has a voice. How do we harness this power for the good of our organizations?

Shirley W. Struchen, Executive Director of the Religion Communicators Council, served as coordinator.

Presenters included:

  • Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Have a Little Faith, and others.
  • Barbara Bradley Hagerty, religion correspondent for National Public Radio
  • Stewart Hoover and Nabil Echchaibi, from the Center for Media, Religion and Culture, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), the movement that teaches young leaders to look beyond diversity and build relationships of mutual respect and shared values
  • Diana Eck, founder of Harvard University's pluralism project; columnist and distinguished authority on American religion
  • Martin Marty, a prominent interpreter of religion and culture, author of over 50 books, speaker, columnist, pastor, and professor of religious history for 35 years at the University of Chicago
  • Ingrid Mattson, first female president of the Islamic Society of North America
  • Otis Moss III, pastor of Chicago Trinity Church
  • Ken Medema, musician, composer and storyteller