Professional Development

Upcoming educational programs

Below are listed future educational programs hosted by RCC; be certain to also check out the chapter pages for additional in-person and educational sessions.


Times Ahead: Communicating Your Organization’s Future

Stephen Dupont, APR, Fellow PRSA
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2 p.m. ET

Pandemics, war, 1,000-year rainfalls, Artificial Intelligence, Supreme Court precedents, book bans, a loneliness epidemic, population decline, selecting spouses based on their income potential, political polarization, global warming, dropping church participation, the Metaverse… 

In this thoughtful and thought-provoking webinar, public relations pro and professional futurist Stephen Dupont, APR, Fellow PRSA, will share his insights about what’s around the corner for communications professionals who represent religious organizations. Looking 10 years out, Dupont, editor of Compass, a quarterly magazine published by the Association of Professional Futurists, will focus on the interaction between communications and foresight to help RCC members prep for the many and ongoing changes that confront us and our organizations. Applying a futurist mindset, he will discuss how to scan for signals of change, how to prepare for game-changing events, and how the action you take today matters in achieving your organization’s desired future.


About the Speaker: Stephen Dupont, APR, Fellow PRSA, is vice president of public relations at Pocket Hercules, a Minneapolis creative and branding firm. Dupont is a public relations/branding professional with 30 years of experience who specializes in marketing communications. He also is a professional futurist who helps organizations strategically communicate their desired future. He serves as the editor of Compass, an international quarterly online magazine published by the Association of Professional Futurists (APF). He also serves on the board of directors for APF and Teach the Future, a nonprofit dedicated to helping teachers introduce futures thinking to kids and young adults. Dupont writes and speaks frequently about the intersection between communications and foresight and is a frequent contributor to PRSA’s Strategies & Tactics magazine. To learn more, visit his blog at or his LinkedIn page,


Religion Communicators Council is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

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APR Accreditation

Visit our APR Accreditation page to learn more about this voluntary designation and accreditation program available to RCC members from the Universal Accreditation Board.

Personal Learning Resources

Looking to build new knowledge, skills, and abilities? Or want to refresh ones you haven’t used in awhile? Below are several trusted resources to help you grow — personally and professionally.

From courses to degrees, Coursera offers 100% online learning from the world’s best universities and companies on a wide variety of topics. Many individual courses are free. Consider the offerings in their Marketing, Leadership and Management, and Personal Development libraries.

LinkedIn Learning

Learn business, creative, and technology skills online from industry experts. An on-demand video learning library with more than 14,000 courses, LinkedIn Learning is available as part of a premium subscription. A free one-month trial is available.

Google Analytics Academy

Does your organization use Google Analytics? Google Analytics Academy guides you through a free online program to improve your data collection and analysis skills with this measurement tool. Complete their online program and you can earn your Google Analytics Certification for free as well.

Past Professional Development Webinars

September webinar: Unkommon Authenticity and Owning Your Voice

Ryan Thogmartin, owner/CEO of Disrupt Media, discussed how to cut through the clutter to have your organizational and personal  brand noticed – and why he uses a “k” instead of a “c” in his presentation title.

Thogmartin, the founder and CEO of two innovative companies – Connecting Directors LLC and Disrupt Media Group, LLC – explained that authenticity isn’t only what people can see. He adds that organizations need to be clear on what they are and what they are not. He encouraged the webinar participants to consider what their organizations stand for, in regard to mission, core values and purpose; he then noted the importance of not letting others pull the organization from these values.

In regard to social media, Thogmartin stated that content should be follow the “ARC concept,” with an additional C appropriate at times:

– attention-grabbing – with 1-2 seconds to grab the viewer’s attention

– relatable – content that the audience will care about

– consumable – brief snippets that viewers can ingest

– call to action – consider what behavior you want and draft the content to help make that happen

Thogmartin explained social media content pillars as the junction of what one’s brand is with what the audience cares about; he encouraged the participants to focus their strategy and content on that area of overlap.

View the Zoom video

View slide presentation



August webinar: Connecting with Generation Z

Speaker Lisa Morales Freed presentation “Grabbing and Keeping the Attention of Gen Z” offered fresh insights and actions to help grab and keep Gen Z’s attention, including tips for winning them over and ideas for collaboration and leadership.

We all want to connect with Generation Z. This audience is challenging norms and shaping a new normal. With their unique introduction to adulthood and the paradoxes they present, they bring pronounced perspectives and insights. While we know this group is highly digital and ever-present, what about other considerations for how they live and why they do what they do?

Morales Freed is a research strategist at Aspen Finn, a strategy and insight group with headquarters in Nashville, TN. She has more than 20 years of research, strategy, branding, and positioning experience working with clients such as Best Buy, Chrysler, IBM, Condé Nast, Crown Equipment, The Hartford, Highlights for Children, Humana, McDonald’s, Nestlé, Owens Corning, Sony, Thermos, Walmart, and many others.

Morales Freed is an accomplished moderator, lecturer, and writer. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where she maintains a mentorship with Fisher College of Business. She is also an enthusiastic home chef and a canvaswork designer whose lines, Nooxie Noble and High Street Canvas, are distributed nationwide.

View the Zoom video




July panel – “Lunch, Learn and Laugh” 

“Trust one who has gone through it,” notes Virgil.

That adage has been worth heeding since the days of the Roman poet, as there is much wisdom in learning from another’s experience. Several of our life and retired members shared their insight and advice during a casual panel discussion held July 20.

The format was similar to the “lunch and learn” held last summer – with a few questions asked of all the panelists, then general discussion and questions from members. We added a third L – laugh, as we wanted this to be informal as well as informational. Our esteemed colleagues shared some insight they’ve accumulated over the years, such as how to “manage up” and how to work more productively with other internal departments.

Panelists were:

Burton Buller – I’ve spent a total of 27 years in religious communications over a period of 42 years in three different agencies. I began as a photographer/newswriter/filmmaker at a Pennsylvania agency, then later as the CEO of a Canadian agency doing primarily radio, and finally as the director of a third agency in Virginia doing mostly web work and broadcast documentary production.

Deb Christian – With a degree in journalism from Texas Tech University, I found my “career” in communications at UMR Communications, the non-profit parent organization for The United Methodist Reporter, a newspaper publication that served the interests of the United Methodist Church. I worked in the production and business side of the organization beginning as an associate editor working with regional client subscribers, then working my way through newspaper production with client church subscribers, becoming scheduler for the 100+ editions, then continuing on to become Director of Production when I retired. I worked there from 1975 until theReporterpublished its final edition in June 2013 – just short of 38 years.

George Conklin – Retired as a Professor of Religion, Media and Culture at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. Started in Hartford back when TV was black and white.  I’m UCC.  Ev Parker was my inspiration and mentor. Have led workshops in two dozen countries for WACC.

Susan Engle – Associate Editor, Music Editor – Brilliant Starchildren’s magazine for 22 years. Published over 70 children’s poems, three biographies (with one more in the pipeline) for upper elementary/middle school readers, and four tiny books for person-to-person communication and information about the Bahá’í Faith. Website:

Dan Gangler  – I joined RPRC in 1983 as a new director of communications for the Nebraska Annual United Methodist Conference. I maintained my membership and served on the board of directors while associate editor for The United Methodist Reporter in Dallas, managing editor of The Disciple magazine and director of communication for the Indiana United Methodist Conference in Indianapolis. I retired in 2014 and continue to live in Indy.

Thomas McAnally -After an undergraduate degree in journalism from Oklahoma City University and a graduate degree in mass communications from Syracuse University I served as communications director for the Nebraska Conference of the United Methodist Church from late 1963 through 1968. In 1969 I moved to Nashville and joined the staff of United Methodist News Service, serving as director of that international agency from 1984 until retirement at the end of 2001. That adds up to about about 37 years. A joy during my career was participating in the Religious Public Relations Council, serving as an officer in the Nashville Chapter and as president of the national board from 1988 to 1990.  In the years prior to my involvement membership in the organization had been primarily Protestant Christian with a focus on “publicity.”  Subsequently RPRC became interfaith with a focus on “public relations.”  And, as you know, the next step was creation of RCC, a beautifully diverse, interfaith association of communicators.

Philip Poole, APR, Fellow PRSA – Philip retired in 2018 as executive director of marketing and communications for Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama. He then began a second career as adjunct professor of public relations at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, retiring again in 2022. He was active from 1977 until 2022 — 45 years.

David Sterling – I’ve forgotten how long ago I first joined RCC but it was known as The Religious Public Relations Council, Inc. at that time. As soon as I learned there was a Twin Cities Chapter I joined and became very active with our monthly meetings until the chapter lost its committed president and the monthly meetings ceased to happen. As a member of the Baha’i Faith my religious communication has always been part time and voluntary. For my St. Paul Baha’i community I used to write a column I called The Interfaith Connection and my articles were always about cooperative actions between multiple diverse faiths and less about the Baha’i Faith itself. I signed off on those article: “Interfaithfully Yours, David Neyman Sterling. I’ve been a member of a number of other interfaith organizations and organized interfaith events and celebrations for them plus writing articles for them, all volunteer and part time and again more about cooperation between faiths than about The Baha’i Faith. Currently I am involved in a year-long campaign to bring attention to the hanging of ten Baha’i women in Iran 40 years ago on June 18th. Even this is about more than just these ten Baha’i women, it is about the rights and equality of all women worldwide and the oneness of the entire human family. Search: “Our Story Is One” for info on the June 18th, 1983, hanging. I intend to write something at length about how a very personal story or experience (my own) can lead one to deeper engagement in larger societal issues and concerns as my response to this year-long campaign for Our Story Is One.

Fred Swartz


June webinar: “Is AI OK? The Promise and Perils of Chat GPT” 

It’s a hot topic, generating lots of headlines and heated debates – generative AI. Whether you view it as a great resource that may give the tech industry a much-needed boost, are concerned how AI might impact the future of the workforce, or – like the majority of folks – fall somewhere in the middle, there’s plenty to be learned about this new technology. Communicators especially need to consider how, when and to what extent to use AI.

Aaron Kwittken, founder & CEO of PRophet, an AI-driven platform, presented “Is AI OK? The Promise and Perils of Chat GPT.”

During the session, Kwittken discussed the potential of generative AI tools such as Jasper and DALL-E that have attracted ample attention lately, with emphasis on OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Launched in late November and free and open to the public, ChatGPT holds the distinction of being the world’s most sophisticated chatbot.  His presentation covered how this tech may impact communication, drawbacks and a forecast of things to come.


Divinity over Division: Communicating Spirituality in a Climate of Polarity

Religion communicators come from all walks of life, and pop up everywhere on the policital spectrum, but according to this panel discussion while politics seek to divide, religion should bring people together.

This webinare, co-hosted by RCC and Communicators for Women Religious, focused on Divinity over Division: Communicating Spirituality in a Climate of Polarity. The panel touched on how communicators can bring people together over the issues that matter while both staying above the noise and how to make a difference in today’s world.

Panel members were:

  • Ibrahim Anli, Eecutive Director, Rumi Forum Center for Faith, Identity & Globalization
  • Sr. Joanne Gallagher, CSJ, Director of Communications, Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston
  • Barbara Hecht, Director of Communications, Sisters of St. Joseph of  Baden
  • Joyce Litoff, Associate Director of Communications, Baha’i National Center
  • Brad Pomerance, Senior Vice President, Programming & Host, Jewish Life Television

Past Recorded Webinars and Convention Presentations


Click here to go to our YouTube channel, with videos of past webinars, convention presentations and Wilbur awards



RCCongress 2020 Recorded Webinars

See Convention page for webinar descriptions

Backpack Journalism: Multi-Platform Story Creation with Gregg Brekke, Visual journalist and Executive Director of the Associated Church Press

Pew Research – The Decline of Christianity in the United States: An Update on America’s Changing Religious Landscape with Dr. Gregory A. Smith, Associate Director of Research, Pew Research Center

ΘeoCon (Thee-Oh-Con): Where Theology Meets Pop Culture! with Rev. Shayna J. Watson, Canon Pastor at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Religion Writing: From Pitch to Publication with Adelle Banks, Production Editor and National Reporter, Religion News Service

Content is Everything. What is YOUR Strategy to Use it? with Lou Ann Sabatier, Principal and Lead Consultant at Sabatier Consulting

Creating a Third Space: Communicating Across Religious and Cultural Boundaries Through the Arts with Dr. Patrick M. Beldio, Teacher, scholar, and artist

Pew Research – Americans’ Views on Religion’s Role in Society and Politics with Claire Gecewicz, Research Associate at Pew Research Center

Storytelling and Media Arts that Spread a Vital Faith with Rev. Dr. Ron King, Founder and Director of Sidebar Stories, and Ken Medema, Musician, Composer, Founder of Brier Patch Music and Ken Medema Music