Bahai News - RCC 2000 Closing gala brings communicators to their feet

From the Worldwide Faith News

RCC 2000 Closing gala brings communicators to their feet

Apr 14 2000 12:12 PM

By Suzy Heydel


The audience at the closing banquet of Religious Communications Congress (RCC) 2000 had the last word at the gathering for religious communicators that took place in Chicago March 29-April 1, 2000. As the house lights came up, and the final musical notes faded in the seventh-floor ballroom of the Downtown Marriott, the appreciative crowd of nearly 900 was on their feet clamoring for more.

The theme of RCC 2000 was "Faith Stories in a Changing World," and the closing program was as diverse thematically as the rest of the four-day event. Munira Sen of India, Hillary Nicholson of Jamaica and Scott Collins of Dallas began the final celebration with a "charge" to the audience to carry the many faith stories of RCC 2000 back home with them.

Composer Ken Medema and members of the Wing IT Performance Ensemble set the musical tone for the evening and brought the audience to their feet the first time with a rousing challenge to "hug at least 39 people in the room." With the ice broken, and after some final reflections by RCC 2000 chairperson Shirley Whipple Struchen, the evening's entertainment was turned over to Odyssey, a Henson and Hallmark Entertainment Network, which sponsored the congress finale.

Emmy Award-winning journalist Mary Alice Williams, host of Odyssey's "Quiet Triumphs" series and the "Odyssey Weekly" broadcast, stepped to the podium and reflected upon some of the stories that have shaped her life and career in broadcast journalism. Susan Frank, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Odyssey Entertainment, fol lowed Williams and reinforced her message.

"Keep telling your stories," Frank urged members of the audience. "They're important and deserve to be heard."
After the remarks by Williams and Frank, the closing gala turned into a hand-clapping, toe-tapping celebration of faith stories set to music. Chicago's Grammy Award-winning Thompson Community Singers literally rocked the ballroom, warming up the crowd for a special performance by gospel singer Yolanda Adams. Adams, another Grammy-winner, is one of the latest performers to join Odyssey's stable of stars.

RCC 2000, a global examination of faith stories attended by people from every continent, concluded with the floors of the Marriott shaking and the enthusiastic audience shouting their approval. It seemed a fitting tribute to a global convocation in the planning since 1995. Only the fourth event of its kind since 1970, the congress drew 1,200 religious communicators, representing dozens of different faith traditions.

According to Brad Pokorny of the Office of Public Information of the Baha'i International Community, "I felt (the RCC 2000) emphasis on globalism and global partners was really, really important and much needed. I know, speaking for the roughly one dozen Baha'is who were there, that we all felt really 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."

Participants attended more than 120 workshops, panel discussions and plenary sessions led by some of the most distinguished communicators at work today. The roster of speakers and presenters included: the Rev. Jesse Jackson; the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, former general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ; author and theologian Martin Marty; Derrick de Kerchhove Director of the McCluhan Project; and Pulitzer Prize winning photographer John White of the Chicago Sun Times.

For more information about RCC 2000, including news releases, audio and video ordering information and a comprehensive photo gallery, visit the website at

©Copyright 2000, Worldwide Faith News

Top 19 Baha'i Sites Page last updated/revised 052800
Return to the Bahá'í Association's Main Web Page