RCC proudly announces their Wilbur Award of Excellence and Award of Merit, recognizing exceptional work completed by secular (non-religious) media outlets in 2022.

The awards are presented annually to recognize the outstanding work in the communication of religious issues, values, and themes in media in the fields of print and online journalism, book publishing, television, and film. The Award of Excellence is for entries deemed to be of excellent quality and unquestionably worthy of recognition while the Award of Merit is presented for work deemed meritorious and worthy of acknowledgment. The awards were presented April 21 during the RCC’s annual convention, Listening to Life: Telling Stories That Matter, held in conjunction with the Associated Church Press (ACP), the Anabaptist Communicators, and the Canadian Christian Communicators Association (CCCA).

The Wilbur Award is the top honor provided by the Religion Communicators Council.  It is reserved for the most outstanding entries each year. The Award of Excellence is the next level of recognition provided by the RCC and is for entries deemed to be of excellent quality and unquestionably worthy of recognition. The Award of Merit is the final level of recognition, for work deemed meritorious and worthy of acknowledgment.

According to RCC’s Wilbur Award coordinator and RCC Board of Governors member Brad Pomerance, “The quality of work and the compassion displayed by these professionals is impressive, especially as it relates to telling the important story of religious and inspiring themes. These recipients are models of how to communicate about religious issues, vales and themes with professionalism, fairness, respect and honesty.”

RCC has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949. Secular communicators enter work in several categories. Juries of media professionals, coordinated by council members across the country, evaluate submissions on content, creativity, impact and excellence in communicating religious values. The award is named for the late Marvin C. Wilbur, a pioneer in religious public relations, longtime council leader and former Presbyterian Church executive.

Congratulations to the 2023 Wilbur Award of Excellence and Merit honorees (Note: The Wilbur award winners were announced in a separate release dated March 28):


Audio/Audio-Visual Productions:

  • Audio Productions > Audio-Only News Stories
    • Award of Excellence:
      • Some Christians Are Using Sacred Texts to Embrace a Broader Understanding of Gender; Deena Prichep and Jason DeRose; Freelance/National Public Radio NPR)
    • Award of Merit:
      • Religion Roundup: AP’s Global Religion Team Explores Sacred Rivers Around the World; Walter Ratliff, Jessie Wardarski and Deepa Bharath; the Associated Press


  • Audio Productions > Other Audio Productions
    • Awards of Excellence:
      • How This German Town Kept a Promise to God for 400 Years; Arman Aghbali, Mary Hynes, Rosie Fernandez and Kevin Ball; Canadian Broadcasting Company
      • Witnessed: Mystic Mother; Katie Henoch, Leah Henoch, Emily Martinez, Sarah Ventre, Rebecca Ross, Matt Shaer, and Sydney Fleischmann; Campside Media and Sony Music Entertainment
    • Awards of Merit:
      • History of the World Religions (Part 1); Drs. Megan Goodwinn and Ilyse Morgensteing Fuerst; Keeping it 101: A Killjoy’s Introduction to Religion Podcast
      • INTERFAITH: The Musical, Volume 2; Ruth Broyde Sharone
      • Our Ventura TV: Faith Based Shows for 2022; Sandra Siepak; Our Ventura TV


  • Audio-Visual Productions > News Stories (Faith & Values, Hard News & Other)
    • Awards of Excellence:
      • Church and State; Anderson Cooper, Sarah Koch, Chrissy Hallowell, and Robert Zimet; CBS News/60 Minutes
      • A Painful Remembrance; Martha Teichner, Dustin Stephens, Mike Levine, and Rand Morrison; CBS Sunday Morning
    • Award of Merit:
      • Church Abuse Scandal; Nikki Battiste, Adam Verdugo, Javier Guzman, Sherri Sylvester, Rodney Comrie, Durrell Dawson, Alicia Hastey, and Anam Siddiq; The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell


  • Audio-Visual Productions > News Stories (Human Interest)
    • Awards of Excellence:
      • The Answered Need; Don Dare, Taylor Gash, and Dave Wignall; WATE-TV
      • 60 Minutes: Ballet in Exile; L. Jon Wertheim, Michael H. Gavshon, Nadim Roberts and Matthew Lev; CBS News’ 60 Minutes
    • Award of Merit:
      • CBC Sunday Morning: Second Chances (Reginald Dwayne Betts); Erin Moriatry, George Pozderec, Kay M. Lim, and Rand Morrison; CBS Sunday Morning


  • Audio-Visual Productions > Full-Length AV Productions & Other
    • Award of Excellence:
      • To Bigotry No Sanction; Jack Gordon, Samuel Goldman; The Loeb Institute for Religious Freedom at the George Washington University
    • Awards of Merit:
      • Ireland’s Dirty Laundry; Betty Buckley, Deirdre Cadwell, Elizabeth Coppin, Teresa O’Connor, Gabrielle O’Gorman, Maureen Sullivan, Samantha Long, Etta Verman, Nuala Cunningham, Gerry Gregg, Liadan O’Connor, Jen Dunbar, and Fernando De Juan; New Decade TV Ltd
      • Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas; Swirl Films & Big Dreams Entertainment; Lifetime TV



  • Illustration & Photography
    • Award of Excellence:
      • Praying Football Coach; Michelle Budge; Deseret News
    • Award of Merit:
      • Interfaith Work for Climate Change; Eliza Anderson; Deseret News


Written Works:

  • Books
    • Awards of Excellence:
      • Reorganized Religion; Bob Smietana; Religion News Service
      • Shabbat and Sunday Dinner, In Our Tradition; Candace Bazemore and Gabrielle Spatt
      • Stealing My Religion: Not Just Any Cultural Appropriation; Liz Bucar, Northeastern University
      • What Kind of Christianity: A History of Slavery and Anti-Black Racism in the Presbyterian Church; William Yoo; Westminster John Knox Press


  • Magazine Articles
    • Award of Excellence:
      • Why I Love Christmas in Israel; Nicky Blackburn; ISRAEL21c
    • Award of Merit:
      • The Summer of Love – In Yiddish; Madison Margolin; DoubleBlind


  • Newspaper Articles (Faith & Values)
    • Awards of Excellence:
      • After Roe, Religious Liberty Seen at Risk; Deborah Netburn; Los Angeles Times
      • ‘You Wear Out’: How Chronic Illness Grounds and Inspires William Barber’s Activism; Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service
    • Awards of Merit:
      • A Family’s Evolution on Abortion; Priscella Vega; Los Angeles Times
      • As Supreme Court Weighs Abortion, Christians Challenge What It Means to Be “Pro-Life”; Jaweed Kaleem; Los Angeles Times
      • Martini Judaism; Jeffrey Salkin; Religion News Service


  • Newspaper Articles (Human Interest)
    • Award of Excellence:
      • Salvadoran Women Jailed for Abortion Warn US of Total Ban; Luis Henao and Jessi Wardarski; The Associated Press
    • Awards of Merit:
      • Afghan Couple Accuse US Marine of Abducting Their Baby; Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman, Claire Galofaro; The Associated Press
      • Inside the Last Days of a Small-Town Synagogue; Dina Gachman; The Forward
      • Rejection or Welcome: Transgender Catholics Encounter Both; David Crary; The Associate Press


  • Newspaper Articles (Hard News)
    • Awards of Excellence:
      • Colleyville; Forward staff; The Forward
      • Tracking and Analyzing Celebrity Antisemitism – Portfolio; Mira Fox, Louis Keene, Sharon Rosen Leib, and Laura E. Adkins; The Forward
      • Ukrainian Clergy Say Russian Occupiers Target Them with Threats, Violence; Ian Lovett; The Wall Street Journal
    • Award of Merit:
      • Three Killed in Church Shooting: Hero Disarms Shooter, Found Left with Heartbreak, Questions; Greg Garrison; AL.com


  • Newspaper Articles (Opinion)
    • Award of Excellence:
      • Columns From Rob Eshman – Portfolio; Rob Eshman; The Forward
    • Awards of Merit:
      • A Sharp and Insightful Voice: Laura E. Adkins Portfolio; Laura E. Adkins; The Forward
      • Looking Forward – Portfolio; Jodi Rudoren; The Forward
      • What Russell More Taught Me About Arguing with My Husband; Kelsey Dallas; Deseret News


  • Newspaper Articles (Human Interest)
    • Awards of Excellence:
      • Can An All-Mormon Cast Pull Off ‘Fiddler on the Roof”? We Traveled to Utah to Find Out; Mira Fox; The Forward
      • What It’s Really Like to be Jewish on a Campus Known as a ‘Hotbed of Antisemitism’; Arno Rosenfeld; The Forward
    • Awards of Merit:
      • Campus Religious Groups Step Into a New Realm: Mental Health Counseling; Olivia Sanchez; The Hechinger Report
      • On Abortion, Muslim Americans Say Islamic History is “On the Side of Mercy”; Alejandra Molina; Religion News Service
      • Should A Member of the Clergy Report Sex Abuse of the Penitent? A Look Inside the Priest-Penitent Privilege; Tad Walch; Deseret News
      • Signs of the Times; Rev. Thomas J. Reese; Religion News Service
      • What Faith Groups Are Doing to Help with the Housing Crisis; Mya Jaradat; Deseret News

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