Tag Archive: interfaith


The full title of the opening plenary of the RCC national convention was “The Interdependence of Faith and Government Working for the Common Good.” The theme of the convention – being in Philadelphia and all – was “Interdependence: Religion Communication Today.” As I stated in my previous post, the plenary was scheduled to begin at 1:30 and I was walking down the stairs from the second floor skybridge to the lobby a few minutes later. Check-in at the hotel was not until 4 p.m., so, backpack and computer bag in hand – and on shoulder – I checked in to the convention and went in for the plenary.

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, director of the Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Center at the Department of Education, moderated the panel of Directors of FBNP Centers. In addition to her work at the DOE, Girton-Mitchell also started a consulting firm to assist churches and nonprofits in advocacy, leadership development, and conflict resolution. The mission of the Center at the DOE is to promote student achievement by connecting schools and community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based.

The second panelist, Zeenat Rahman, acting director of the Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is a regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared in The Washington Post, National Public Radio, and CNN speaking on issues related to Muslim identity, civic engagement, and international affairs. Rahman is a Fellow with the American Muslim Civic Leaders Institute at the University of Southern California.

The third member of the panel was Eugene Schneeberg (rhymes with “neighbor”), director of the Center for FBNP for the U.S. Department of Justice. Under his leadership, the Center works to advance the goals of the President’s National Fatherhood & Mentoring Initiative, assists in the coordination of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention and serves on the Federal Interagency Reentry Council. Schneeberg, a graduate of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and Boston University, is passionate about his center’s initiatives.

The White House Office of FBNP works with centers at 13 federal agencies to form partnerships between government at all levels and nonprofit organizations, both secular and faith-based, to effectively serve Americans in need. The Center’s primary goals are to: Engage community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based, in building a culture of high expectations and support for education, Develop and support initiatives within the federal government to help maximize the education contributions of community-based organizations, including faith and interfaith organizations, and Strengthen partnerships between community-based organizations and schools to help improve the nation’s lowest-achieving schools.

The three directors were entertaining and informative, displaying their passion for the work their particular center does. Girton-Mitchell told the room of communicators that Directors of FBNP centers would be glad to make appearances similar to the panel discussion for the RCC convention to spread the word about their programs and initiatives if multiple presentations can be arranged to justify the travel expenses – which are limited. Each of the panelists introduced themselves and talked about the initiatives of their particular center, including the links contained in this post.

Peace be with you.

The Religion Communicators Council (RCC) National Convention was held this past Thursday through Saturday in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Airport Marriot. While there was a showing of the movie, Waging Peace: Muslim and Christian Alternatives, on Wednesday evening for those who arrived early, the convention did not officially begin until the opening plenary at 1:30 on Thursday afternoon on “The In[ter]dependence of Faith and Government.” After the panel discussion, the attendees had a choice of four workshops.

My plane was scheduled to arrive at 1:20, so I knew I would be at least a few minutes late to the plenary. The hotel and the airport were connected by a skybridge just one terminal away from my arrival terminal, which helped, but it was still after 1:30 when I walked down the stairs to the lobby of the hotel. I will get back to the plenary and other convention activities in following posts.

The main event of the day was the DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards Dinner at 6:30 p.m. I am a member of RCC as a writer and representative of Christ UMC (Farmers Branch, Tx) and the communications committee. The church entered an article I had written for the church newspaper, and I entered this blog in the new Social Media category of the awards. When I was  informed that I won, I did not know which of the two was the winning entry. However, since I was winner, the church funded my trip to the convention.

As it turned out, I won a Certificate of Merit for Chasing After Wind. The .pdf of the awards program may be found here. Social Media is a new category, so it is at the end if you  happen to be looking for my award. In the picture you can see the slide they showed when they announced my award. The other picture is of the attendees from the DFW Chapter of the RCC. From left to right: Cherrie Graham (United Methodist Reporter), Debbie Tull (Patheos), myself, and Deb Christian (also UMR). Mary Jacobs, UMR reporter, was preparing for a writing workshop she was leading and was not available for the picture. Debbie and I both needed to catch our flights home.

The judging for the DeRose-Hinkhouse awards was done by “colleagues at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.” All of the entrants received the judges’ evaluation forms after the awards program. Entrants not at the convention received their evaluations by mail.

Be that as it may, the judges had some suggestions for improving the blog. Ironically, my room was in a black hole of the hotel and I could not even boot up my computer – much less access my blog. So there will be changes to Chasing After Wind over the next week or so. Hopefully, the changes will make for a more pleasing visit to the blog, easier to comment, like, follow, and so forth, and there will be more interactive qualities.

Feel free to let me know of any suggestions or comments you may have pertaining to my blog. I try to respond to comments and visitors as soon as possible.

Peace be with you.

In today’s tough economic climate where we all try to do more with less, it is sometimes difficult to know when, or if, to add more staff. We ask ourselves: Do I get more work first, then bring in extra workers to handle it or do I go ahead and bring in the workers so I can handle more work as I get it?

The Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of the Religion Communicators Council has a program planned to provide some answers and insight, especially for our communication and faith-based needs. Abigail Allen, a senior account executive with Creative Circle will share ideas, suggestions and background for staffing. We’ll meet on Thursday, Feb. 23, 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. at Christ United Methodist Church.

Creative Circle is a specialized staffing agency representing advertising, creative, marketing, visual communication and interactive professionals. Ms. Allen has more than 12 years of experience in the advertising, creative and marketing industry. She works closely with companies, agencies and nonprofits in Dallas-Fort Worth to help identify top talent on both a freelance and full time basis. She has extensive experience in marketing communications, project management and business development.

Allen will introduce her company, explain how the process works, and give us examples, so we’ll be better prepared to work within our own organizations.

Cost is $15 and includes lunch. Please email or call Deb Christian, dchristian@umr.org, 214.630.6495 x147 to make a reservation.

——- From Deb Christian, Secretary, D-FW Chapter, RCC

Peace be with you.

September Meeting

The Future of Journalism will be the subject of the October  meeting of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Chapter of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC), an interfaith organization. The presentation will be a panel discussion with panelists including Sam Hodges, managing editor of The United Methodist Reporter, David Sedeño, editor of the Texas Catholic / El Católico de Texas, and Jeff Weiss, long-time reporter and religion writer for the Dallas Morning News. Also invited is Jake Batsell, assistant professor for digital journalism at SMU. Providing additional input (although a schedule conflict precludes his attendance) is Ken Camp, managing editor of The Baptist Standard.

Questions to be considered include:

Will journalism will survive the digital age? If so, what will it look like or in what form?

How will journalism be paid for? Is it possible to make a profit or will it be a non-profit or subsidized “public good”?

Will the news be good? Why?

The meeting will be held at Christ United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch on Thursday, Oct. 27 from 12 – 1:30 p.m. The $15 fee will include lunch. Please email or call Deb Christian, RCC Secretary, at dchristian@umr.org, 214.630.6495 x147 by Monday, Oct. 24 to make reservations. Bring your own thoughts and answers to these timely, pertinent questions.

I will be the host for the meeting. The discussions are always lively and informative with timely, relevant topics. This particular topic is of major concern to communicators, journalists, and writers as we look forward to the future with technological advances, social media, blogs, news feeds, etc.

Peace be with you.

Who’s Your Neighbor

“Who’s Your Neighbor” was the topic of the January meeting of the Religion Communicators CouncilDallas-Ft. Worth Chapter – held at University Park UMC. I am a member of RCC as a representative of Christ UMC, Farmers Branch, and the Communications Committee. Giving the presentation was Anne Marie Weiss-Armush, president of the DFW International Community Alliance.

The DFW International Community Alliance is a network of over 1600 internationally-focused organizations in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex that embodies the cultural and economic vibrancy of the global community. Their mission is to “build mutual understanding and respect by linking diverse international cultural communities.” The organization not only aligns the diverse groups with one another and the society as a whole, but the members of the groups with themselves. Yahoo groups were formed, such as an African group, to promote community among those living in different areas of the metroplex.

A newsletter is sent out by email each week listing the cultural activities of the many varied ethnic groups. As a new subscriber, I look forward to receiving notice of events in our community and the surrounding area. The subject was quite timely, considering our pastor, Dr. Vic Casad’s recent sermon on the demographics of our community and congregation. While Weiss-Armush praised churches who are reaching out with ESL classes – of which Christ Church is one – there are more opportunities for advancing communication among various ethnic groups with the goal of unifying the community with open exchange of cultural influences.

The Christ Church congregation is a diverse group of individuals and families, as are other faith communities. However, there are other people(s) in our community who are seeking faith, or simply help, on some level, but are unsure where to turn for guidance and assistance. We see them every day at the store, the library, the rec center, and other places.

As part of our mission to share the love of Christ, we need to reach out to other faiths and cultures to move toward a unified community – understanding, appreciating, and celebrating our differences. Sometimes we reject what we do not understand instead of realizing that the ways in which we are actually different are relatively insignificant. As part of our mission as stewards of God’s earth, we must work alongside – and in community with – our multi-faceted neighbors. Which, as the alliance illustrates, is true of any and all faith communities whose end result of mission is to help and serve others.

Do I see opportunities in our community to share the word and be of physical and spiritual assistance? All the time. Do I have opportunities to ask questions and listen to someone about their faith community and how we are alike? Again, all the time. Do I avail myself of every opportunity to be a witness to the love of Christ? Unfortunately, no. But I am praying about it and working on it. How about you?

Peace be with you.

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