A banner year for Baha'i communicators

7 April 2006

DALLAS, TEXAS, United States — Eleven professional Baha'i communicators have won 12 awards from the Religion Communicators Council for excellence and merit in the production of various informational materials last year.

In addition, Baha'i filmmakers Suzanne Kay and Mark Bamford won a major Council award for their feature-length theatrical film "Cape of Good Hope."

The awards for professional religion communicators were presented at a dinner on 30 March 2006 as part of the annual Council national convention. Known as the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards, they are presented to members of the Council who demonstrate excellence in religious communications and public relations, and are given in a wide variety of categories, from writing to website design.

The award to filmmakers Kay and Bamford was presented on 1 April 2006 in a ceremony meant to honor work in the secular media that highlights moral or religious themes. Known as Wilbur Awards, they are reserved for nonmembers of the Council, also known by its acronym, the RCC.

Set in South Africa, "Cape of Good Hope" interweaves a number of story lines, all revolving around a Cape Town animal rescue shelter. It has won numerous other awards around the world, including a jury prize for best film from the Starz Denver Pan African film festival.

Baha'i professional religion communicators won seven DeRose-Hinkhouse "Awards of Excellence" for the production of magazines, booklets, books, special issue publications, CD illustration, and website design. Five secondary-level "Awards of Merit" were given to Baha'is for editorial writing, video documentary, and other forms of presentation.

"Without doubt, this was a banner year for Baha'i professional religion communicators, who won more awards in more categories in this annual competition than ever before," said Brad Pokorny, the editor of "One Country," the newsletter of the Baha'i International Community.

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A group photograph of the Baha'is who attended the national Religion Communicators Council convention in Dallas, Texas, USA, this year. Shown left to right are: Anne Gordon Perry, Aaron Kreader, Ellen Price, Tiffany Walters, Mandy Morgan, Patricia Tomarelli, Joyce Litoff, Amethel Parel-Sewell, Susan Engle, Amy Renshaw, and Urla Morgan.

Mr. Pokorny, who has also been a member of the RCC since 1988, won two awards this year. He won an Award of Excellence in the category for "public relations materials, booklets" for The Baha'i Question, a booklet about the human rights situation of the Baha'is in Iran, which was published by the Office of Public Information of the Baha'i International Community. He also won a Certificate of Merit for an editorial in "One Country" titled "The Challenge of Extreme Poverty."

Other DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards of Excellence went to the following Baha'is:

-- Amethel Parel-Sewell, editor of "Brilliant Star" magazine, published by the United States Baha'i community, for excellence in the national magazines category.

-- Betty J. Fisher, editor, "World Order" magazine, published by the United States Baha'i community, in the national magazines single issue category, for Vol. 36, No. 3 of World Order.

-- Patricia Tomarelli for "Sarah Farmer's Dream of Peace" in the "public relations materials" category, for special-issue publications. This work also won "best of class" citation in the public relations category, and Ms. Tomarelli gave a brief speech at the awards ceremony.

-- Anne Gordon Perry for "Green Acre on the Piscataqua" of the Baha'i Publishing Trust, in the books category.

-- Patricia Tomarelli for graphic design on the album cover of "From Exile to Exaltation: Our offering to Baha'u'llah" in the video/CD/DVD category.

-- Glen Fullmer, director, U.S. Baha'i Office of Communications, and his colleagues Ellen Price, Deborah Wood, and Jeffrey Dalton, for the U.S. Baha'i website in the website category.

Of note, Dr. Perry was also invited to be the keynote speaker for the convention. Speaking on the topic of "Where Art Intersects Faith," Dr. Perry examined the convergence of art and religion in the past and anticipated future intersections.

"Art can enhance our experience of worship and bring new meaning to our sense and acts of faith," said Dr. Perry. "Art and religion, both potent forces in civilization, can be seen as having a profound, eternal partnership, capable of producing things beyond our current imaginings."

Dr. Betty J. Fisher, managing editor of "World Order," said she was delighted to have won an award from the RCC. Her award was for a special issue devoted to the life and writings of the famous African-American philosopher Alain Locke -- who was not only a Rhodes Scholar and the Dean of the Harlem Renaissance but also a Baha'i.

"Since 1966, 'World Order' has been publishing on issues of broad social concern from a Baha'i perspective and has tried to stimulate, inspire, and serve those trying to understand the relationship between contemporary life and contemporary religious teachings and philosophy," said Dr. Fisher.

Founded in 1929, the RCC is an international interfaith association of religion communicators at work in print and electronic communication, marketing and in public relations.

The DeRose-Hinkhouse Awards are named to honor the late Victor DeRose and the late Paul M. Hinkhouse, leading lithographers in New York City and longtime friends of the RCC. Both men shared a strong interest in, and concern for, excellence in communications.

"These awards validate the imagination and originality so plentiful in our RCC family," said Victoria Goff, chair of the DeRose-Hinkhouse awards and executive with National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA in Valley Forge. "They demonstrate the high quality of work that institutions receive from our RCC members."

As noted, five De-Rose Hinkhouse "Certificates of Merit" were also given to Baha'is. In addition to the certificate given to Brad Pokorny for "One Country," Kari Carlson and Tiffany Walters of Baha'i Media Services won a Certificate of Merit for their Baha'i newsreel story "Being Rich." Dr. Perry won three Certificates of Merit for a PowerPoint presentation on the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, for the annual ABS Arts Journal, and for a newspaper feature on her portrayal of Sarah Farmer in the New Hampshire Chautauqua festival.

The entire list of RCC award winners can be found at: www.religioncommunicators.org/derose_hinkhouse/dh2006excellence.html

and www.religioncommunicators.org/wilbur/2006newsrelease.html