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Contact Commission Chair
Jerry Van Marter (502) 569-5493.

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The NCC Communication Commission holds a face-to-face plenary meeting each fall. These gatherings  featuring workgroups on news, marketing and promotion, advocacy and education, web management, and electronic programming  are often scheduled to coincide with other professional meetings in which the NCC's communicators are interested, reducing travel costs and expanding networking.  Before 2010, the commission met twice a year. 

2012 Commission meeting CANCELED

It is with great reluctance that I announce that the National Council of Churches Communication Commission meeting scheduled for September 24-26, 2012 is canceled.  This cancellation is part of an overall “pause” in NCC activities that is being undertaken while the NCC’s Governing Board and a special Task Force to Re-envision and Re-structure the NCC determines how best to move forward in a sustainable way in the year 2013 and beyond. Even the NCC General Assembly, scheduled for November of this year, has been canceled. The Communication Commission is not alone. 

We should all be particularly grateful to Pat Pattillo and Phil Jenks, who have done so much to prepare for the meeting. It’s sad that we won’t see the fruits of their labors.

I have had a lengthy conversation with Peg Birk, the transitional general secretary of the NCC, and believe her to be thoroughly committed to communication as a key element of the NCC going forward. She voiced strong support for the commission and what we do to strengthen both the NCC and our member communions.

But for now I am personally committed to the “pause,” believing it is the best way to demonstrate concretely that it can no longer be “business as usual” for the NCC. I look forward to letting you all know where we go next as we seek to serve God, our member communions, the National Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement. As soon as I know more, I will let you all know. Thanks for your love for and commitment to the NCC Communication Commission.

Jerry L. Van Marter
Chair, NCC Communications Commission
Phone: 502-569-5493


Highlights: 2011 Communication Commission meeting, September 26-28 in New York City

·    Sessions were held at TheInterchurch Center, 475 Riverside Drive.
·    Opening worship led by Ann Tiemeyer, ELCA pastor and national program director of NCC’s women’s ministries
·    A keynote presentation by Randall Balmer, nationally known author and analyst of contemporary Protestant life.  He is professor of religion at Columbia University and Barnard College, host of Emmy-winning PBS programming, and frequent guest on CNN and The Daily Show.

Ann Tiemeyer, Randall Balmer at left: Tiemeyer, Ballmer

·         Participation in a multi-city video town hall featuring the annual UCC-sponsored Everett Parker Ethics in Communications lecture as part of the Commission’s emphasis on media advocacy, presented by Steven Waldman, founder of BeliefNet and currently special advisor to the chairman of the FCC.
·         A session of dialogue with ABC TV’s George Stephanopoulos, host of Good Morning America, and former director of communications in the Clinton White House. He earned a master's degree in theology at Oxford University, on a Rhodes Scholarship, and is a member of the Greek Orthodox communion.

Steven Waldman, George Stephanopoulos at left: Waldman, Stephanopoulos

Roundtable meetings of the Commission's professional workgroups in marketing/promotion, news/media relations, marketing/promotion, and electronic programming, and screening of excerpts of documentaries recently produced by commission members.

Click here for a detailed schedule for the 2011 meeting.

Highlights: 2010 Communication Commission meeting, September 27-30 in Washington, DC
U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, across the street from the ecumenical advocacy offices of the National Council of Churches.

The 2010 annual Communication Commission meeting was held in the nation's capital during the last week in September.  Partnering in the meeting were the member association of Odyssey Networks and the media justice program of the United Church of Christ.  The group traveled to several locations to take advantage of the city's communication resources.

In addition to the Commission's regular task-centered workgroup sessions on news and media relations, web management, marketing and promotion, media advocacy and electronic programming, highlights of the week included: 

  • A Sneak Preview screening of “God in America,” the epic, six-hour PBS series that was to premiere in October.  After showing a segment from the series, the production team from WGBH-Boston, Frontline, and The American Experience joined us in a dinner discussion.
  • The annual Everett Parker Breakfast, with a keynote address on telecommunications ethics by FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, at the National Press Club.
  • A four-hour session at the Newseum featuring the official release of new Pew surveys of religious literacy in America, media coverage of religion, and religion in America's public schools.  PBS newsman Ray Suarez moderated three expert panels featuring Alan Cooperman and Gregory Smith of the Pew Trust, Stephen Prothero of Boston University, Krista Tippett of NPR, Dan Gilgoff of CNN, Melinda Henneberger of Politics Daily, Ken Paulson of Religious Freedom Education Project, Mark Silk of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Charles Haynes of the Religious Freedom Education Center, and others.
  • A visit to the headquarters of Discovery Communications, featuring a team of their producers discussing some of their experiences in multiple media platforms for distributing content.
  • Odyssey Networks’ Producers Workshop, an afternoon of experts discussing new trends and techniques for video and audio producers.
  • The commission's annual Ecumenical Film Festival, a showcase of the best of the year’s faith communion productions, long and short. 
  • In its business session, the commission approved a resolution addressed to the Federal Communications Commission, calling for regulation guaranteeing equal access to internet/broadband service for all citizens and groups, both in sending and receiving information.

The Hilton Hotel in Silver Spring, MD, was headquarters for the meeting.

Highlights: 2009 Communication Commission meeting September 28-30 in New York City

The Communication Commission met in New York City for its traditional three-day gathering, Monday morning through Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 28-30, 2009. Starting point for each day's sessions was The Interchurch Center, home of the National Council of Churches,  on Manhattan's upper west side, with afternoon field trips on Monday and Tuesday to several top communication companies. Wednesday afternoon, the 27th annual UCC-sponsored Everett C. Parker Lecture on Telecommunication Ethics was held at The Riverside Church, featuring NCC General Secretary Michael Kinnamon.


Garland Pierce, Serene Jones--Worship was led by Garland Pierce (left), senior program director for NCC's Education and Leadership Ministries Commission
--the Commission's Media Education and Advocacy Focus featured a case study from Deepa Fernandes, director of the Peoples Production House, a grassroots media development center in New York City.

--the Keynote presentation was by Dr. Serene Jones (left), President of Union Theological Seminary, New York, who spoke of the seismic shifts the new media are making in church and society analogous to the impact of the invention of the printing press just before the Reformation.
Jack Blessington, Bill Baker
--an on-site seminar at CBS Broadcast Center was hosted by Jack Blessington (left), an active Roman Catholic who heads the religion and culture unit of CBS, a partner with the Communication Commission through the IBC documentaries. New 60 Minutes correspondent Byron Pitts, a Baptist, had an extended visit with the group on the eve of the release of his book, Stepping Out on Nothing. 
--an on-site seminar at WNET-PBS studios was hosted by Dr. Bill Baker (left), who helped create Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, PBS News Hour, Bill Moyers Journal and other pioneering public TV programs.  David Brancaccio, host of NOW on PBS, also spoke to the Commission visitors, and the group toured the Moyers and BBC America studios.

Laurie Goodstein, Rachel Zoll-
-an on-site seminar at The New York Times newsroom, hosted by Laurie Goodstein (left), national religion reporter, also featured Rich Meislin, who directed the development of the phenomenally popular Times website.  The site visit  concluded with a tour of the Times' newsroom, part of their new headquarters building just west of Times Square.
- an on-site seminar at Associated Press headquarters, hosted by national religion writer Rachel Zoll (left) and other AP staff, including an extensive backstairs visit to the AP's global  newsroom, which covers a space larger than two football fields in a massive structure spanning the main rail yards of New York's Penn Station.

For more stories on the 2009 meeting, see

Other recent Commission meetings . . .

APRIL 20-22, 2009 in NASHVILLE: The Communication Commission held its spring meeting at the Embassy Suites Vanderbilt Hotel and at the offices and studios of United Methodist Communications, whose staff brought the group Bob Smietanaan extensive presentation on coordinated communication strategies that demonstrate convergence across platforms and the use of social networking media.  Among other highlights was a discussion of local coverage of religion with Nashville Tennessean rreligion editor Bob Smietana (left), co-author of Good Intentions: Nine Hot Button Issues Viewed Through the Eyes of Faith/span>.  The third Ecumenical Film Festival featured a half-dozen of the latest documentaries and outreach productions from Commission members. 

The commission also received progress reports on the development of the new interfaith media advocacy site, So We Might  See, a joint venture of the United Church of Christ, the NCC Communication Commission, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and other faith organizations.

NOVEMBER 10-12, 2008 in DENVER: The Communication Commission held its fall meeting in conjunction with the 2008 General Assembly of National Council of Churches and Church World Service, November 11-13 at the Denver Renaissance Hotel The Commission met from midday on Monday, November 10, through Tuesday, November 11, followed immediately by the opening session of the colorful gathering of 35 Christian communions who work together in unity for justice, education and peace.  Michael Kinnamon

A special feature of this Commission session was an opening dinner dialogue with the new general secretary of the National Council of Churches, Michael Kinnamon (right).  At lunch on Tuesday, the marketing and promotion committee hosted a program featuring Adam Dempsey, a prominent African-American advertising and broadcast executiveBill Fore, former director of the Communication Commission in Denver, and greeted Mike Maus, former commission director, now in Denver./p>

Tuesday evening, commission members were invited to share dinner with the Assembly delegates from their own communions, and some stayed over to attend the full General Assembly, which adjourned Thursday night after a special dinner culminating the 100th anniversary of the modern ecumenical movement, which saw the drafting of the churches' Social Creed and the founding of the Federal Council of Churches, predecessor to NCC, in 1908. A highlight of the dinner was a presentation by Bill Fore, (left) a former director of the Communication Commission, now retired and living in California.

JUNE 4-6, 2008 in MINNEAPOLIS:  The Communication Commission met for its 2008 spring meeting at Westminster Presbyterian Church, which was followed by the National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR) June 6-8, at the Minneapolis Convention Center two Peg Chermberlin, president-elect of the National Council of Churchesblocks away. 

TThe Commission opened with a dinner presentation by NCC President-Elect Peg Chemberlin, (right) CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches. The next day's lunch featured a presentation by Romeo Ramirez, member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a movement of mostly hispanic low-wage farmworkers in Florida, and Melody Gonzalez of Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida and the Student/ Melody Gonzalez and Romeo RamirezFarmworker Alliance, shown at left.  They shared communications insights from the CIW's long struggle for fair treatment by the fast food industry, and described the operation of CIW's low-power community radio station, a key organizing asset. The luncheon was underwritten by Intersections, a ministry of New York's Collegiate Churches.

The commission's new Marketing and Promotion Committee held its initial session during the Minneapolis meeting and the Electronic Programming Committee sponsored its second Ecumenical Film Festival, showcasing faith productions of the Commission'sBill Moyers, distinguished faith leader and journalist member communions.

More than 3,500 registered for the media reform conference that followed. It featured addresses by Bill Moyers (right), Arianna Huffington, Dan Rather, and FFCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, and dozens of media-related seminars, including two faith-based sessions co-sponsored by the  Commission and developed by UCC staffer and Commission member Cheryl Leanza.

For a brief summary of the other NCC Communication Commission meetings since 2001,  click here. . . .