Seeing Hope in New Ways: Possibilities and Perceptions

April 10-13, 2019
Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago

The Associated Church Press and Religion Communicators Council are pleased to announce the dates for their joint convention in 2019. We’ll meet together April 10-13, 2019 at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. Although we’ll have our own award ceremonies, the convention is being planned by a team from both organizations and we’ll share in workshops, keynote speakers, networking opportunities and faith expressions. ACP members will have the option to attend the RCC’s DeRose Hinkhouse awards and the Wilbur Awards, which honors the best in religious coverage in the secular press.

Registration is now open at Please select “Associated Church Press” as your affiliation. You can add the Wednesday DeRose-Hinkhouse awards dinner for a price of $60 and/or opt out of the RCC Wilbur Awards dinner for a discount of $70.

Wednesday: Opening Plenary

Judith Valente (@judithvalente) is an award-winning author and journalist and 2003 Wilbur Award winner. Her most recent book is How to Live: What The Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us About Happiness, Meaning, and Community.

She is a sought-after speaker and retreat leader on such subjects as living a more contemplative life, discovering inner wisdom through poetry, and finding meaning in your work. She is a lay associate of the Benedictine monastery Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas, which is the subject of her 2013 memoir, Atchison Blue: A Search for Silence, a Spiritual Home and a Living Faith.

Ms. Valente is the senior correspondent for WGLT Radio, an NPR affiliate in central Illinois. She writes for U.S. Catholic and National Catholic Reporter, and is a former staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. She also worked as an on-air correspondent for Chicago Public Radio and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on national PBS-TV.

Workshop | APR Track

Be a Leader in Your Field: Earn Your APR

Jeff Huett, APR (@JeffHuett) is Associate Coordinator of Communications and Advancement, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Decatur, Georgia and RCC’s representative on the UAB.

Thursday: Plenary Panel

Communicating in the Age of #MeToo
The #MeToo movement has created a platform calling for change around gender issues in nearly every sector of society. This panel takes an intersectional approach to exploring and challenging the present state of gender representation in media and media production. Panelists will engage a range of ongoing efforts to raise awareness about gender disparities, as well as examining issues of media ethics, the role of social media, and emerging strategies. Finally, they will suggest ways to promote greater equity in our work in religion-based communications and media.

Dr. Glory Dharmaraj is U.S. coordinator for the Global Media Monitoring Project (@whomakesthenews) of the World Association for Christian Communication (@waccglobal). Since the project’s inception in 1995, she has led media monitoring on the role and image of women in the United States. She also participated in WACC’s peace journalism project, coordinating peace monitoring for the United States.

Dharmaraj has spoken and written widely on the themes of Christian mission, interfaith relations and media literacy.

Dr. Karri Whipple (@karriwhipple) is a speaker, writer, and activist who promotes transformative justice work within communities. Her work focuses on the intersection of trauma, identity politics, and religion. She is particularly interested in the ways in which gender, sexuality, and race shape responses to violence and trauma within faith traditions.

Karri is an Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies at New York University and has taught at Rutgers University, Drew University, and numerous other institutions. She serves as the Vice President of the World Association of Christian Communicators – North American region.

Other panelists TBA

Workshop | Technology Track

Pocket Production Mobile Storytelling

The storytelling capabilities in your pocket are increasing every day. In this workshop, we will discuss the pros and cons of mobile storytelling from the field, best practices for using live streaming and “stories” features on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and delve into some other tools that can help you tell your stories in creative ways and reach new audiences.

Matt Paolelli (@payolelly) is senior manager of strategic communications for Catholic Extension, where he oversees digital communications, social media, digital advertising and online giving.

Paolelli previously served as a web content producer for Northwestern University Relations, where he produced multimedia news features as well as created and managed the University’s social media presence. He also teaches journalism and multimedia reporting at Medill as an adjunct.

When he’s not doing any of that, he’s hanging out with his wife and two kids, and rooting for the Chicago Cubs and the Northwestern Wildcats.

Plenary Speaker

The Rev. Jonathan E.L. Brooks (@PastahJ) serves as Senior Pastor at Canaan Community Church in West Englewood, Illinois and has taught elementary education and Arts in inner city Chicago for over a decade.

As a firm believer in investing in the community you grew up in, Rev. Brooks has a deep desire to impress this virtue on the students and young people in his congregation, classroom and community. Canaan provides youth development, holistic health options, college scholarships, music lessons and continual support to the incarcerated and their families living in Englewood and other Chicago communities.

He is the author of Church Forsaken: Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods, released in November 2018.

Friday: Workshop | Technology Track

Podcasting: From Basics to Global Reach

From audio digests of printed content to bonus in-depth material, or even as an entirely new subscription platform, podcasting can – and should – be a part of any publisher’s media plans. Veteran podcaster, author and producer Christian Piatt navigates the confusing world of podcasting, helping you and your organization understand how podcasting complements your organization’s current media strategy. Discussion of equipment, editing and distribution methods included in this helpful workshop.

Christian Piatt (@christianpiatt) is the founder of Square Core Media, a digital media consulting and production firm dedicated to helping organizations develop new media. He is also the President and CEO of BookPros, a custom publishing company.

Workshop | Management Track

Working with Freelancers

Charles Whitaker is the Helen Gurley Brown Research Chair in Magazine Journalism and Associate Dean at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. He was named a Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Clinical Professor in 2004.

Before rejoining the Medill faculty, Whitaker was a senior editor at Ebonymagazine, where he covered a wide range of cultural, social and political issues and events on four continents, including two U.S. presidential campaigns, the installation of Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa and the election of the first black members of the British Parliament.

Prior to joining the Ebony staff, Whitaker worked as a newspaper reporter in Florida and Kentucky. His work, which has appeared in a variety of national and regional publications, has been honored by a number of journalism societies, including The National Association of Black Journalists, The Society of Professional Journalists, The Kentucky Press Association and the National Education Writers Association.

Workshop | Technology Track

Writing for the Web: 7 Ways to Write Content That Gets Opened, Read and Shared

Anybody can put an article on their website. But few people know how to stand out in the inboxes and social streams of your audience. Digital is so crowded, so competitive. A few small changes can mean the difference between tons of traffic and …crickets.

  • How is writing for web different? How is digital content consumed?
  • What type of writing tends to get clicked, opened and read?
  • How do you find the topics that will connect with an audience?
  • Which images will drive more clicks?

During this presentation, Andy will teach you the how to create content that is easy for visitors to consume and easy for you to promote. Once complete, you’ll have the tools and tactics you need to drive traffic and results.

Andy Crestodina (@crestodina) is a co-founder and CMO of Orbit Media, an award-winning 38-person digital agency in Chicago. During the past 18 years, Andy’s provided guidance to 1,000+ businesses. He speaks at national marketing conferences, writes for big marketing blogs and hosts a little podcast. Andy has written hundreds of articles on content strategy, SEO, influencer marketing, conversion and Analytics.

Workshop | APR Track

“So, how did we do?”: The oft-forgotten question

Evaluating the performance of an initiative or campaign is actually the first step to planning for the next one, yet it is often skipped as you rush toward the next thing. Learn techniques for evaluating performance and then communicating it to your team and organizational leadership.

Taylor Morrison (@taylorelysemo) is the CEO of Jubilant, a brand experience firm. Taylor writes, speaks, and consults on seemingly unrelated topics like branding, self-care, and business operations. She explores purpose and process to help people and organizations build meaningful rituals for work and for life.


We’ll return to the incredible facilities at Fourth Presbyterian Church as our convention host. Located on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile — as close as you can get to the Windy City’s shopping, entertainment and the lakeshore district — the church is a beautiful landmark and a vibrant member of Chicago’s downtown community.

Our conference hotel will again be the Millennium Knickerbocker where we’ve negotiated the same room rate as last year – $139 / night + taxes! Reservations are available via a direct link to our discount block, using the promo code 1904ASSCHU, or by calling the hotel reservation line (800-621-8140) and mentioning you are part of the ACP/RCC Room Block. The promotional rate expires March 10, 2019.

Convention Parking
The 900-910 N. Lake Shore Drive Condominium (black steel and glass exterior) has the lowest parking rates in the neighborhood and is located at the corner of Lake Shore Drive and Delaware. Delaware is on the north side of Fourth Presbyterian Church.
The garage entrance is three blocks east of the church on the corner of DeWitt and Delaware. Drive down the ramp, leave the keys in the ignition, and the staff will valet your car. The garage is open 24-7. People can park for the entire convention or enter and leave as needed. When leaving the garage the standard tip is $2.00.
The full day rate is $38.00

Tentative 2019 RCC-ACP Convention Schedule

Wednesday, April 10

  • 9:00 a.m. — Registration and Exhibits Open
  • Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Lunch on your own with Affinity Groups
  • 1:30 p.m. — Greetings from the RCC and ACP Presidents, words of welcome Opening
  • 2:00 p.m. — Keynote speaker on theme “Seeing in New Ways: Possibilities and Perceptions”
  • 3:00 p.m. — Sponsored beverage break and newcomer welcome
  • 3:30 p.m. — Professional Development Workshops
  • 5:00 p.m. — Faith Expressions led by ACP
  • 5:30 p.m. — Break
  • 6:00 p.m. — RCC: DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards Banquet, Fourth Presbyterian Church
  • 6:00 p.m. — ACP: Reception with hor d’oeuvres

Thursday, April 11

  • 8:30 a.m. — Faith Expressions led by RCC
  • 9:00 a.m. — Plenary Session
  • 10:30 a.m. — Sponsored beverage break
  • 11:00 a.m. — Professional Development Workshops
  • 12:30 p.m. — Luncheon with keynoter
  • 2:00 p.m. — RCC and ACP separate business sessions
  • 3:00 p.m. — City tours
  • 5:00 p.m. — ACP pre-dinner reception at Fourth Presbyterian Church
  • 6:00 p.m. — Suggested dinner at Giordano’s (Chicago Deep Dish) Pizza on your own
  • 6:00-9:00 p.m. — ACP awards dinner at Fourth Presbyterian Church
  • 8:00-9:30 p.m. — RCC town hall style meeting

Friday, April 12

  • 8:30 a.m. — Faith Expressions led by ACP
  • 9:00 a.m. — Professional Development Workshops
  • 10:30 a.m. — Sponsored beverage break
  • 10:45 a.m. — Professional Development Workshops
  • Noon — Sponsored luncheon
  • 1:30 p.m. — Professional Development Workshops
  • 3:00 p.m. — Sponsored beverage break
  • 3:30 p.m. — Professional Development Workshops
  • 5:00 p.m. — Break
  • 6:00 p.m. — Wilbur Awards Reception at Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel
  • 7:00-10:00 p.m. — Wilbur Awards Banquet at Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel

Saturday, April 13

  • 7:30 a.m. — Faith Expressions led by RCC
  • 8:00 a.m. — Continental breakfast and interest groups: editors, marketers/public relations, photographers, publishers, social media specialists, videographers, web developers, and writers.
  • 9:00 a.m. — Additional city tours or continuation of interest groups
  • Noon — End of RCC convention at end of tours