Interfaith Communications Event Kicks Off in Chicago

Over 600 communications professionals are gathering in Chicago today to kick off the 2010 Religion Communication (RC) Congress, a once-a-decade event showcasing the best in communications from the world's major religions.

The broad range of participants, including religion news writers, public relations specialists, bloggers, television and film producers, and leaders of churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples, will gather from April 7 to 10 at the Resource Plaza in Chicago to learn about new technologies, network, and enhance their communication skills. 2010 marks the fifth time the event has taken place.

"I am looking forward to the incredible networking opportunities at Congress," National Council of Churches staff member Melissa Dixon says. "Rarely does one get the opportunity to meet and learn from so many pioneers in the fields of religion and communication."

"To share interaction with fellow religion communicators from around the world has enhanced my own professional expertise and experience," says Philip Poole, director of communications for Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., who has attended every Congress except the first.

Providing the event's opening keynote will be award-winning author Mitch Albom, whose latest book, Have A Little Faith debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times nonfiction best-sellers list. The book talks about Albom's personal faith journey, influenced by a rabbi and a pastor.

Other speakers include Katya Andersen, Chief Operating Officer, Network for Good; Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, founder of Sound Vision Foundation; and Nick Stuart, President and CEO of Odyssey Networks, among others.

The event will also feature over 50 workshops and roundtable discussions, the titles of some of them being: "Bridging the Digital Divide: Social Marketing Applied," "Virtual or Real: Faith in the Second Life Community," "How to Evaluate, Research about Congregations and Worshipers," and "Using the Internet as a Tool for Faith Understanding."

A showcase for faith-based films will also take place at the RC Congress, with Triage: Dr. James Orbinski's Humanitarian Dilemma highlighted as the event's feature film.

Triage is inspired by Dr. Orbinski's 2008 book An Imperfect Offering, for which he won the Writer's Trust of Canada's Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. The film follows Dr. Orbinski to Somalia, Rwanda, and Congo and captures the haunting choices doctors face as they race against time with limited resources.

Furthermore, the 2010 DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards, for excellence in religious communications, and the Wilbur Awards, for secular media who communicate on religious issues, will be presented at the event by the Religion Communicators Council, an interfaith association of religion communicators at work in print and electronic communication, advertising and public relations.

Over 118 awards will be given in 63 categories across 10 classes, with categories covering public relations and advertising materials and campaigns, writing, graphic design and photography, Internet communication, social media, non-broadcast audio and video, broadcast audio and video, and periodicals.

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