Wilbur Awards

Over 70 Years of Recognizing Excellence in the Communication of Religious Issues, Values, and Themes in Public Media

Since 1949, the Wilbur Awards have been presented annually to recognize excellence in the communication of religious issues, values, and themes in public secular media. Through the awards, the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) recognizes the work of individuals, production companies and agencies as they communicate about religious issues, values and themes with professionalism, fairness, respect and honesty. Past winners include Morgan Freeman, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Pauley, Mister Rogers, CBS Sunday Morning, ABC’s 20/20, Meet the Press, Vanity Fair, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the New York Times.

The Wilbur Award honors Marvin C. Wilbur, a pioneer in the field of religious public relations. Each Wilbur stained glass trophy is individually hand-crafted. An eloquent thank you for excellent work!

Submission Deadline:

Monday, February 8, 2021

2021 Wilbur Awards

Any person or agency may submit entries for the 2021 Wilbur Awards. Entries are eligible if released or distributed through a non-religious medium of general circulation during the 2020 calendar year. The work must be focused on religious issues, positive values, and uplifting themes.

The competition is judged by religion media professionals from across the United States in a jury process. The basic criteria of content, creativity, execution and results, apply in the evaluation of each entry. The ultimate criterion is excellence in the communication of religious values, the hallmark of RCC and the Wilbur Awards.

Wilbur Award stained glass trophy

Entry period opens for 2021 Wilbur Awards

Entry Deadline: February 8, 2021

Winners will be notified by March 8, 2021.

Awards will be presented virtually during the RCC National Convention, April 6-9, 2021.

Questions? Contact us!

Wilbur Awards Contact Form

15 + 8 =

2020 Wilbur Awards Sponsor

We are honored to have the Wilbur Awards for 2020 underwritten by Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, OK.

The seminary, at its core, is a community of teachers and learners seeking to be faithful to God through disciplined, reasoned and reflective study of scripture, religious tradition and human experience. We offer courses online and on-campus with students across the U.S. and abroad.

2020 Wilbur Award Winners

The 2020 Wilbur Awards celebrated 23 winners for work completed in 2019. Among this year’s winners are a number of pieces that highlight stories from around the world or were produced internationally. Such winners include “Wrapped in Love,” the Toronto based radio documentary winner from Tapestry on CBC Radio, and “Life & Soul,” the Dublin based winner in the TV & Cable documentary category by Scratch Films for RTÉ. The Associated Press won in two categories, one for a breathtaking photo essay depicting recent crackdowns by the Indian government in the largely Muslim Kashmir region.

Other Wilbur winners include New York Time Bestseller, “The Dearly Beloved,” published by Simon and Schuster; “Bipartisan Prayer,” a TV interview by CBS Face the Nation; and a magazine essay published by Emergence Magazine, “On the Road with Thomas Merton.”.

Join Us in Celebrating the 2020 Winners

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES (print and online)

National or Top 15 metro markets (single article, series of articles, special section, religion page)

Sikh Drivers are Transforming U.S. Trucking,” (series: “Sikh drivers are transforming U.S. trucking. Take a ride along the Punjabi American highway,” “How a rural Oklahoma truck stop became a destination for Sikh Punjabis crossing America,” “Behind the Story: On a search for Sikh truckers”) Jaweed Kaleem, reporter; Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California

All other markets (single article, series of articles, special section, religion page)

Coverings,” Peter Smith, religion editor; Stephanie Strasburg, staff photographer; Shelly Bradbury, public-safety reporter; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Holiness in the midst of pain: Reflections on a year of difficult events” Kelsey Dallas, religion reporter and InDepth content manager; Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah

MAGAZINE ARTICLES (print and online)

All Markets

On the Road with Thomas Merton,” Fred Bahnson, essayist; Jeremy Seifert, filmmaker; Emergence Magazine, Inverness, California


Photo Story/Essay

India’s Crackdown Hits Religious Freedom in Disputed Kashmir,” The Associated Press, Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan, Rajesh Kumar Singh, photographers



The Dearly Beloved,” Cara Wall, author; Simon & Schuster, New York, New York


Sacred Liberty,” Steven Waldman, author; HarperOne, HarperCollins, Brooklyn, New York


The Best of KidSpirit, Volume VI,” Elizabeth Dabney Hochman, editor; KidSpirit, Brooklyn, New York


Feature Length Film

Breaking Bread,” Beth Elise Hawk, writer, producer & director; Jon Fitzgerald & Travis Knox, executive producers; Martin Goldenberg, Michelle Harrison, Issie Rabinovitch, Lois Schottenstein, associate producers; Ofer Ben Yehuda, director of photography; Jonty Fine & Itai Levin, editors; Omar El-Deeb, music; Gemini Girls Productions, Santa Monica, California

Documentary (30 min.+)

American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel,” Jeanine Butler & Catherine Butler, directors & producers; Jamie Lee Godfrey, editor; Peter Hutchens, camera; Butlerfilms in association with Contemporary Dialogues, Charlottesville, Virginia

Documentary (30 min.+)

Revolution of the Heart: The Dorothy Day Story,” Martin Doblmeier, filmmaker; Mark Comberiate, producer & director of photography; Carrie Snyder, producer; Deryl Davis, producer; Journey Films, Alexandria, Virginia


Online News Stories

The Reckoning,” The Associated Press Staff; The Associated Press New York, New York

Multimedia or Video

Coverings,” Peter Smith, religion editor; Stephanie Strasburg, staff photographer; Shelly Bradbury, public-safety reporter; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania



Jesus: His Life,” Ben Goold, Jane Root, Joel Osteen, D. Emerson Iloff, Mary Donahue, Evan Lerner, executive producers; Simon Breen, series producer; Joshua Hyams, Alex Dwiar, Jackelyn Viera Lloff, producers; Adrian McDowall, Craig Pickles, Ashley Pearce, directors; Joe Ainsworth, Ed Selleck, Anna McPartlin, Lauren Klee, writers; produced by Nutopia; History, A&E Network, New York, New York

News – network or national syndication (up to 4 min.)

The CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell: WWE Wrestler Fights Stereotypes,” Jim Axelrod, correspondent; Kimberly Godwin and Jay Shaylor, executive producers; Alturo Rhymes, senior producer; Sharaf Mowjood, producer; CBS News, New York, New York

News – network or national syndication (4-8 min.)

“CBS News Sunday Morning: Family Man: When Mitch Albom found Chika” Nancy Giles, correspondent; Mary Lou Teel, producer; Joseph Frandino, editor; Rand Morrison, executive producer; CBS Sunday Morning, New York, New York

News – network or national syndication (8 min.+)

CBS News 60 Minutes: Tree of Life,” Lesley Stahl, correspondent; Shachar Bar-On, producer; Kate Morris, associate producer; April Wilson, editor; Bill Owens; executive producer; Tanya Simon, executive editor; 60 Minutes, CBS News, New York, New York

Documentary (up to 30 min.)

In Bad Faith: Child Sex Abuse and the Catholic Church,” Paul Abowd, producer; Natasha Del Toro, correspondent; Laila Al-Arian, executive producer; Erik Ljung and Stephen Bailey, dp; Paul Abowd, additional photography; Warwick Meade, editor; Fault Lines, Al Jazeera English, Washington, D.C.

Documentary (30 min.+)

Life & Soul,” Liam McGrath, producer/director; Roger Childs, executive producer; Greg Fromholz, associate producer; Áine O’Neill & Colm Flynn, presenters /producers; Lanka Perren, director of photography; Elisanne Pires, production co-ordinator; Scratch Films for RTÉ, Balbriggan, Dublin


Face the Nation – Bipartisan Prayer, Margaret Brennan, moderator; Mary Hager, executive producer; Catherine Reynolds, senior producer; Jake Miller, producer; Alison Hawley director; CBS News, Washington, D.C.


Single Program

‘Blue Christmas’ Services Offer Refuge From Holiday Cheer” Deena Prichep, reporter; Jason DeRose, editor, freelance broadcast on NPR, Portland, OR

Series of Programs (two or more)

On Freedom Road: The Roots and Fruits of U.S. Exploitation of Immigrant Labor,” David Dault, producer, audio engineer, and editor; Lisa Sharon Harper, executive producer & host; Freedom Road, producing organization; Sojourners, partnering organization; The Work of the People, partnering organization; Sandburg Media, LLC, Chicago, Illinois


Wrapped in Love,” Sarah Keaveny-Vos, producer; Erin Noel, editor & sound designer; CBC Radio – Tapestry, Toronto, Ontario Canada

Previous Winners


Recognizing excellence in the communication of religious issues, values, and themes in secular media.


2002 Wilbur Award Winners


2001 Wilbur Award Winners


2000 Wilbur Award Winners


1998 Wilbur Award Winners


1996 Wilbur Award Winners


1992 Wilbur Award Winners

Shirley Struchen and Andy Rawls Provide Leadership for the Wilbur Awards Program

Shirley Struchen, RCC Executive Director since 2001, is coordinator of the 2020 Wilbur Awards.

Dr. Andrew “Andy” B. Rawls, former director of media services at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is producer of the 2020 Wilbur Awards event for the 30th year. He received a “Special Wilbur” in 2012 as Producer Extraordinaire for his many years of creatively producing the RCC Wilbur Program.

Want to check out some of the previous Wilbur Awards presentations again? Go to the RCC YouTube Channel to see the award presentations.

Many thanks to Andy Rawls, Wilbur Awards producer, for preparing all the video clips highlighting the introduction to each award and excerpts from the acceptance remarks!