From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
RCC 2000 Closing gala brings communicators to their feet
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
14 Apr 2000 12:12:27
Title: RCC 2000 Closing gala brings communicators to their feet
By Suzy Heydel
The audience at the closing banquet of Religious Communications
Congress (RCC) 2000 had the last word at the gathering for religious
communicators that took place in Chicago March 29-April 1, 2000. As the
house lights came up, and the final musical notes faded in the
seventh-floor ballroom of the Downtown Marriott, the appreciative crowd of
nearly 900 was on their feet clamoring for more.
The theme of RCC 2000 was "Faith Stories in a Changing World," and
the closing program was as diverse thematically as the rest of the
four-day event. Munira Sen of India, Hillary Nicholson of Jamaica and Scott
Collins of Dallas began the final celebration with a "charge" to the
audience to carry the many faith stories of RCC 2000 back home with them.
Composer Ken Medema and members of the Wing IT Performance Ensemble set the
musical tone for the evening and brought the audience to their feet the
first time with a rousing challenge to "hug at least 39 people in the
room." With the ice broken, and after some final reflections by RCC 2000
chairperson Shirley Whipple Struchen, the evening's entertainment was
turned over to Odyssey, a Henson and Hallmark Entertainment Network,
which sponsored the congress finale.
Emmy Award-winning journalist Mary Alice Williams, host of Odyssey's
"Quiet Triumphs" series and the "Odyssey Weekly" broadcast, stepped to the
podium and reflected upon some of the stories that have shaped her life and
career in broadcast journalism. Susan Frank, Executive Vice President and
General Manager of Odyssey Entertainment, followed Williams and reinforced
"Keep telling your stories," Frank urged members of the audience. "They're
important and deserve to be heard."
After the remarks by Williams and Frank, the closing gala turned into a
hand-clapping, toe-tapping celebration of faith stories set to
music. Chicago's Grammy Award-winning Thompson Community Singers literally
rocked the ballroom, warming up the crowd for a special performance by
gospel singer Yolanda Adams. Adams, another Grammy-winner, is one of the
latest performers to join Odyssey's stable of stars.
RCC 2000, a global examination of faith stories attended by people from
every continent, concluded with the floors of the Marriott shaking and the
enthusiastic audience shouting their approval. It seemed a fitting tribute
to a global convocation in the planning since 1995. Only the fourth event
of its kind since 1970, the congress drew 1,200 religious communicators,
representing dozens of different faith traditions.
According to Brad Pokorny of the Office of Public Information of the
Baha'i International Community, "I felt (the RCC 2000) emphasis on
globalism and global partners was really, really important and much needed.
I know, speaking for the roughly one dozen Baha'is who were there, that we
all felt really welcomed and included. In general there was an atmosphere
of genuine interfaith ecumenism that went beyond mere tolerance to a real
sense of harmony and consonance."
Participants attended more than 120 workshops, panel discussions and
plenary sessions led by some of the most distinguished communicators at
work today. The roster of speakers and presenters included: the Rev. Jesse
the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, former general secretary of the National
Council of Churches of Christ; author and theologian Martin Marty; Derrick
de Kerchhove Director of the McCluhan Project; and Pulitzer Prize winning
photographer John White of the Chicago Sun Times.
For more information about RCC 2000, including news releases, audio and
video ordering information and a comprehensive photo gallery, visit the
website at http://www.rcc2000.org
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