RCC’s Wilbur Awards honor multi-media

April 14 fete, sponsored by PDA, honored film, TV, books

April 19, 2012


The best of the best in religious communicating were honored at the 2012 Wilbur Awards April 14 during the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) national convention in Philadelphia.

The awards banquet, underwritten this year by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its Presbyterian Disaster Assistance ministry, celebrated professionals in categories including television and cable documentary, feature film (drama), blogs and magazines.

Winners this year included the feature film The Help, based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett and the screenplay and direction by Tate Taylor; the television and cable documentary “Serving Life” from writer, producer and director Lisa Cohen; and the book Miles To Go by Richard Paul Evans. 

“The Wilbur awards are unique in that they recognize the value and importance of public and secular media and its intersection with religious issues of the day,” said Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness, director of the Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
“Throughout the centuries, communicators have often brought to light critical issues that demand engagement by the religious community. And often the faith community has borne witness to realities that the rest of the world might have otherwise ignored,” she said.

The interfaith RCC is the oldest association of religion communicators in North America ― only the Associated Church Press, which is limited to Christian communicators and focuses more on journalistic achievement, is older and larger ― and its Wilbur Awards recognize excellence in communicating religious faith and values in the public arena and encourage understanding among faith groups.

Among the most famous past recipients of the Wilbur Award are former President Jimmy Carter, Bill Moyers and Steven Spielberg. The award is named for long-time PC(USA) communications  executive Marvin Wilbur, who also helped head the RCC for many years.

Wilbur Award recipients often thank the organization for recognizing that their work has worth and meaning, said Shirley Struchen, RCC executive director. There are so many really good movies, books, television programs and other communication forms out there, and “we need to reward them so that we will continue to have them.”

“When I got the email (about the Wilbur) I was elated,” said Anthony Laudato, who won for his CBS News Sunday Morning story “Spreading the Word.” The piece he produced with reporter Daniel Sieberg focuses on how communities of faith and religious groups are using the Web and mobile applications.

How to do ministry online is a huge question, and churches will continue to grapple with this issue, said Laudato. “It was great to talk to people who are wrestling with these issues.”

Winning the Wilbur “reaffirmed my faith in journalism,” he said. “It was a thrill to have my work recognized.”

Toya Richards, a student at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, writes frequently for Presbyterian News Service.

  1. This seems to be a use for the funds which is outside the purpose of the PDA. As a frequent contributor to the PDA would it be possible for someone to email me with an explanation? Thank you.

    by John Burgeson

    June 11, 2012

  2. Shame on you. You have grossly misused money that was given in good faith to alleviate suffering in the world. I will now begin to give to other relief efforts because of this. This is not how congregations or God intended for this money to be used.

    by Mary Garland Roddey

    May 23, 2012

  3. I have to agree with Bill. Will someone please explain to us why money given to PDA was used for this?!

    by Diane Barnes

    May 21, 2012

  4. Why are we using money collected for disaster to fund this? When disasters occur, Presbyterians mobilize. We stand up in the pulpits asking for funds to alleviate the suffering. Presbyteries put out the call for collections. Good stewards dig deep into their pockets to give. It is poor stewardship to use disaster collections for this (no matter how important media relations may be). How can I call my congregation to give to PDA when I cannot assure that the collection alleviates suffering from disaster?

    by Bill Wisneski

    May 16, 2012