Bahai News - RCC 2000 reflects world's diversity
RCC 2000 reflects world's diversity
From: NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
TITLE: RCC 2000 reflects world's diversity
April 13, 2000 News media contact: Linda Bloom·(212) 870-3803·New
CHICAGO (UMNS) - Whether displaying expressions of faith, demonstrating
methods of communications or relaying stories that need to be told,
participants in Religious Communications Congress 2000 reflected the
diversity of the world today.
While many of the 1,150 participants in the March 29-April 1 event were
Catholic or Protestant - including nearly 200 United Methodists - many
other religions were represented. Those other traditions were included as
part of the program.
Also on hand were nine global partners who had been invited on
scholarship. They were among the more than 100 communicators representing
23 countries at RCC 2000.
Brad Pokorny, editor of One World, the newsletter of the Baha'i
International Community, said that the dozen Baha'is who attended the
congress felt welcomed and included.
"In general, there was an atmosphere of genuine interfaith
ecumenism that went beyond mere tolerance to a real sense of harmony and
consonance," Pokorny added. "I think in some ways religious
communicators may well be out in front of their congregations and their
leadership on this issue."
Reflecting diversity through workshop and plenary speakers, international
participation and a broad spectrum of faith traditions and theological
perspectives was a goal of the RCC 2000 planning committee, according to
Shirley Struchen, the United Methodist who served as chairperson for the
"I'm thrilled with the response we've received on evaluation forms
and via e-mail," Struchen said. "Over and over, participants
applauded exposure to world culture and learning about the global
implications of communications."
Under the theme, "Faith Stories in a Changing World," the
once-a-decade congress got off to a rousing start with an opening banquet
that featured the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Challenging religious communicators
to "take light into dark places" and "do bold things,"
he urged people of faith to be activists, not mere observers.
"Your task is to do more than record the changing world but be
agents that change the world," Jackson declared.
The next morning, the Rev. Patrick Anthony, a Catholic priest from St.
Lucia who is Caribbean regional president of the World Association for
Christian Communication, warned participants to avoid seeing people only
Instead, religious communicators could become the humanizing conscience
of the media. "As we seek to communicate, people must not be
transformed into images but sown into the hearts of human beings, never
compromised," Anthony said. "We must recognize that what is
important is not the almighty dollar but the human soul."
The Rev. Martin Marty, the renowned theologian and historian, suggested
that the task of religious communicators is not to be at home with the
secular order of things but to introduce the element of faith.
According to Marty, the secular and religious worlds are not separate
but interactive on many levels. He noted that voices of faith, religion and
spirituality must penetrate not just one public, but many sub-publics.
Two separate panels of communicators discussed the difficulties involved
in "sharing our stories" in today's world. A panel of secular
journalists addressed the challenge of accurately describing the ever-changing
dynamics of religion and spiritual life in North America. Another panel
outlined the barriers to full global communications, ranging from restrictive
policies of government-owned media to geographic obstacles to the lack of
But not all was talk or spoken stories during the congress. Ken Medema,
a globe-trotting concert artist based in the San Francisco area, used both
composed and improvised music to address themes of love, justice and the
idea that there should be room at the table for everyone. The performance
art of Cynthia Winton-Henry, Phil Porter and their Wing IT! ensemble
combined dance, theater, music, comedy, improvisation and theology.
Ted Swartz and Lee Eshleman of Harrisonburg, Va., -- otherwise known as
Ted and Lee - delighted their audience with their comedic approach to
familiar gospel stories. Ella Jenkins, an award-winning children's performer
from Chicago, demonstrated the effectiveness of using simple chants and
Workshop topics and speakers again reflected the diversity of the
gathering. Judy Corey, a United Church of Christ minister and story
specialist from White Cloud, Mich., talked about the art of storytelling
and how prejudices and differences can be transcended by sharing stories.
Albert van den Heuvel, president of the World Association of Communication,
discussed how communicators must face the challenge of connecting with
those parts of the world that have been left out of the "informational
The concluding banquet began as Munira Sen of India, Hillary Nicholson
of Jamaica and Scott Collins of Dallas charged participants with the task
of bringing the many faith stories of RCC 2000 back home with them.
Emmy-Award winning journalist Mary Alice Williams and Susan Frank,
executive vice president and general manager of Odyssey, a Henson and
Hallmark Entertainment Network and the evening's sponsor, spoke before
the hand-clapping part of the evening began. Chicago's Thompson Community
Singers literally rocked the ballroom, warming up the crowd for a special
performance by gospel singer Yolanda Adams.
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