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2019 ACP-RCC Convention

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 | Management Track

Communication Research, Strategy Planning

In this interactive workshop, we’ll review a framework you can use for planning all kinds of communication efforts – from conferences to campaigns. Whether you’ve got a big budget or none at all, a communication plan, even a simple, one-page plan, can make a huge difference.

Heidi Thompson is an organizer, marketer and publishing executive with 25 years of experience helping faith-based nonprofits leverage the science of marketing to build audiences, cultivate donors, and win campaigns.

Workshop | Social Media

Engaging on Social Media – Remaining relevant in a crowded newsfeed

Matthew Ian PrevenThe goal of this presentation is to show the importance of engagement on social media. The presentation will show why having a strong social media presence is important in 2019. Additionally, we’ll review how to develop a game plan based on marketing objectives and ideas/inspiration to take marketing programs to the next level.

Matt Preven (@mpreven) is a Sales Engineer at Sizmek and has 10 years experience working in digital marketing and advertising. Matt’s direct experience includes providing client service and consultative support in digital, social, programmatic, video, e-mail and event advertising.

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. Sarah Macharia is the global coordinator of the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) (@whomakesthenews), a 114-nations longitudinal research and advocacy initiative for gender equality in and through the news media running since 1995. She is the principal author of the 2010 and 2015 Who makes the news? The Global Media Monitoring Project reports. She represents WACC on the International Steering Committee of the Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG) initiated by UNESCO to follow up on the implementation of the media recommendations (Section J) of the UN 1995 Beijing Platform for Action for the Advancement of Women.

Macharia holds a PhD in Political Science from York University in Toronto. Prior to her current role she worked extensively with women’s rights movements at the pan-African level and at the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

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.

The Rev. Eric C. Shafer will serve as moderator. He is Senior Pastor at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica and Vice President of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC).

He helped open the Students4Students Shelter at Mt. Olive, the first shelter for homeless college students in the USA. For this work he was awarded the “Community Service Appreciation Award” for “Interfaith Humanitarian Service” by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

His previous positions include Senior Vice President for Odyssey Networks in New York City and Director of Communication for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Chicago. Shafer has taught in South Africa and Madagascar and made multiple trips to Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Workshop | Technology Track

Backpack Journalism: Multi-platform story creation

Journalists today are expected to possess an ever-increasing set of skills and call upon expertise in writing, editing, photography and video production to do their jobs. The growing demand for information by media outlets necessitates journalists be skilled in multimedia news gathering and production. Relying on traditional journalistic principles, this workshop will introduce the necessary reporting and technical skill required to complete multi-media assignments without stress.

Gregg Brekke (@gdbrekke) is an award-winning photojournalist and writer, owner of SixView Studios and executive director of the Associated Church Press. His portfolio is broad and includes significant attention given to global health and economics, justice issues, immigration, and religious topics. He previously served as editor of Presbyterian News Service and news director and editor for the United Church of Christ.

Workshop | APR Track

Crisis Communications: Putting Your Plan Into Practice: It’s not a matter of “if” but “when”

It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you’ll need to implement a plan that helps mitigate the fallout from an event and perhaps helps bolster your organizational reputation. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of leadership and the needs of your audience is only the beginning.

Katherine Kerr Kubatzky, APR (@katherinekerr01) is a former journalist turned public relations professional with extensive experience in the nonprofit sector. She is a court clerk for a Justice of the Peace in Taylor, Texas, and owner of Polaris Non-Profit Communications.

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 | Visual Arts

Photography and Graphic Design for Editors

This presentation is designed to give editors a fundamental understanding of photography and graphic design as they relate to print and web use. It will focus on terminology and a general overview of what can and cannot be expected of images.

Ted Glasoe (@deltasego) is a photographic artist specializing in images of Lake Michigan. He has been a professional graphic designer for over 20 years and a professional photographer for over 10 years.

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.

Friday: Workshop | Visual Arts

Photography and Graphic Design

This presentation is designed to explore the technical, practical and artistic use of photos in web and print use for working photographers and graphic designers.

Ted Glasoe (@deltasego) is a photographic artist specializing in images of Lake Michigan. He has been a professional graphic designer for over 20 years and a professional photographer for over 10 years.

Workshop | APR Track

Drinking From a Hydrant of Data and Using It Wisely

Are you drowning in data and reports? Let’s talk about how to identify the metrics that matter in your work and how to use them to drive change.

Heidi Thompson is an organizer, marketer and publishing executive with 25 years of experience helping faith-based nonprofits leverage the science of marketing to build audiences, cultivate donors, and win campaigns.

Workshop | Management Track

Benefits and Pitfalls of Soliciting Reader Feedback

In a media environment when anyone and everyone can express their opinion via Twitter, comment sections, Facebook, and blogs, does getting reader feedback matter? In this workshop, we’ll discuss the benefits and potential pitfalls of soliciting reader feedback to editorials and opinion pieces as well as the practical ways to do so.

Meghan Murphy-Gill is a writer, editor, and content strategist with 15-years-experience in media and communications. She has written for the New York Times, the Chicago TribuneNew York MagazineUtne Reader, and VICE magazine, among other publications and is the former managing editor of U.S. Catholic, where she was on the editorial staff for a decade. She will be teaching a course this summer at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago on writing about God for a popular audience.

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.

Saturday: Tour

Bahá’í House of Worship Tour

The Bahá’í House of Worship (or Bahá’í Temple) is a temple in Wilmette, Illinois. One of ten dedicated temples of the Bahá’í Faith, it is the oldest surviving Bahá’í House of Worship in the world.

Tour includes the Auditorium, open daily for personal prayer and contemplation, the Welcome Center, and the grounds.

Transportation departs convention at 9:00 a.m. and arrives at the House of Worship at 10:00 a.m.


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


If you are flying into Chicago, public transportation, cabs, and shuttles are easily accessible from each airport.

Cabs & Shuttles

Cabs fares are based on traffic conditions, but an average fare from Midway to downtown Chicago is $28-30; an average fare from O’Hare to downtown Chicago is $30-40.

Using a shuttle (if you’re not going to use public transit) is recommended. Airport Express has reasonable rates.

CTA trains

You can use the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains to get into town and walk from the last stop at Chicago and State.

From Midway:

  • Take the Orange line into the loop, transfer to Red line at Lake.
  • The train fare from Midway is $2.50.

From O’Hare:

  • Take the Blue line into the loop, transfer to Red line at Roosevelt.
  • The train fare from O’Hare is $5.00.

From Lake or Roosevelt:

  • Take the Red line north (Howard) to Chicago exit.
  • Walk or take a cab (.4 mi) to hotel:
    • Head east on E Chicago Ave toward N Wabash Ave
    • Turn left onto N Michigan Ave (Note – You’ll walk by Fourth Presbyterian Church on your left, directly across the street from the Hancock Center)
    • Turn right onto E Walton St
    • Walk 200 feet and The Millennium Knickerbocker is on your right

2019 ACP-RCC Convention Schedule

Wednesday, April 10

  • 9:00 a.m. — Registration and Exhibits Open
  • Noon to 1:30 p.m. — “Shop Talk” Groups with Jay Blossom. Lunch out with colleagues who do similar work – an opportunity to share professional conversation and ideas. Meet at noon the registration table at Fourth Presbyterian Church; walk together to a nearby modestly priced restaurant. Cost: Pay as you go. Groups, each of which will be led by a facilitator, will include:
    • Photographers/videographers
    • Editors
    • Marketing/advertising people
    • Social media people
    • People from the publishing or business side of the shop
    • Other groups are possible if there’s interest
  • 1:30 p.m. — Greetings from the RCC and ACP Presidents, words of welcome, opening
  • 2:00 p.m. — Keynote speaker Judith Valente 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 1
  • 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, Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, April 11

  • 8:30 a.m. — Faith Expressions led by RCC
  • 9:00 a.m. — Plenary Session with panel: Communicating in the Age of #MeToo with Dr. Glory Dharmaraj, Dr. Sarah Macharia, Dr. Karri Whipple, and the Rev. Eric C. Shafer as moderator
  • 10:30 a.m. — Sponsored beverage break
  • 11:00 a.m. — Professional Development Workshops 2
  • 12:30 p.m. — Luncheon with keynote speaker
  • 2:00 p.m. — RCC and ACP separate business sessions
  • 3:00 p.m. — City tours, dependent on public transportation or walking
    • Museum of Broadcast Communications, 360 North State Street
    • Partners for Sacred Places Tour in downtown Chicago with Jay Blossom
    • Chicago Architecture Center, 111 East Wacker Drive
    • Tour of major media outlet in the Chicago market either newspaper or TV
  • 5:30 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 — RCC free evening

Friday, April 12

  • 8:30 a.m. — Faith Expressions led by ACP
  • 9:00 a.m. — Professional Development Workshops 3
  • 10:30 a.m. — Sponsored beverage break
  • 10:45 a.m. — Professional Development Workshops 4
  • Noon — Luncheon with Keynoter: Violence and Faith in Light of Today’s Society and Reporting on Violence. “Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods” with the Rev. Jonathan E. L. Brooks
  • 1:30 p.m. — Professional Development Workshops 5
  • 3:00 p.m. — Break
  • 3:30 p.m. — Professional Development Workshops 6
    • Management and Technology — “Shop Talk” Groups with Jay Blossom – continue (or join) the conversation! Learn from one another in facilitated discussions about the challenges and opportunities in different vocations within religious communication and publishing. Groups include:
      • Photographers/videographers
      • Editors
      • Marketing/advertising people
      • Social media people
      • People from the publishing or business side of the shop
      • Other groups are possible if there’s interest
    • APR Track — In the Spotlight: Handling Media Interviews Like A Pro with leaders Anuttama Dasa and Ryan John Koch
    • Content Marketing with Andy Crestodina (extra workshop, pending)
  • 5:00 p.m. — Break
  • 6:00 p.m. — Wilbur Awards Reception at Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel
    • Wilbur reception sponsored by Phillips Seminary
  • 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. – 12:30 p.m. — RCC Board of Governors meeting
  • 9:00 a.m. — Additional city tours or continuation of interest groups
  • 9:00 a.m. — Tour of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, IL
  • Noon — End of RCC convention at end of tour