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2010 Congress to Explore Faith Communication Issues

9 Apr

For Immediate Release

April 8, 2008 -- NEW YORK (UMNS)-Changes in perceptions about religion, its influence in the public arena and how technology delivers the message are among the issues communicators will consider at Religion Communication Congress 2010.

The congress, with the theme "Embracing Change: Communicating Faith in Today's World," is scheduled for April 7-10, 2010, at the Marriott Downtown Hotel in Chicago.

Participants will represent a broad spectrum of communications specialties, faith traditions and theological perspectives.

Shirley Whipple Struchen, a United Methodist and coordinator of RCCongress 2010, said the use of "instantaneous communication" is probably the biggest change since the last congress in 2000. That could mean networking through Web sites such as MySpace and FaceBook, offering different perspectives through blogging or providing downloadable podcasts for MP-3 players and cell phones.

Jeffrey Cole, director for the Center for the Digital Future, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication, is among speakers who will address that issue during the 2010 event.

In addition to the plenary sessions on timely issues, RCCongress 2010 will feature more than 50 skills-building workshops and time for participants to interact and learn from each other.

Interfaith interaction has become increasingly important, and Struchen said it was recognized in 2000 that because worship does not mean the same thing to everyone, it was more appropriate to add "faith expressions" to the agenda.

Inviting such a broad range of participants, including international representation, to the congress "is more than networking," she added. "It's really (about) understanding each other."

A diverse group of North American communications professionals are planning the event. Among United Methodists involved are the Rev. Dan Gangler of Indianapolis; Lesley Crosson, New York; the Rev. Ken Sloane, Nashville; Larry Hygh, Jr., Pasadena, Cal.; the Rev. Erik Alsgaard, Lakeland, Fla., and Cam Howard, Nashua, NH.

The 2010 event follows a 40-year tradition. The first congress was in 1970 in Chicago, followed by congresses in 1980, 1990 and 2000. In 2000, more than 80 cooperating organizations participated as partners and 1,300 attended.

For the upcoming congress, 64 cooperating organizations have signed up thus far and include United Methodist Communications, United Methodist Association of Communicators and UMR Communications.

Struchen said more cooperating organizations are being sought for RCCongress 2010 and financial assistance, particularly for international scholarships, is welcome. More information about the gathering is at media contact:
Linda Bloom
United Methodist News Service, New York
(646) 369-3759 or
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