The most exciting night of the year for religious press coincided with a very important night for all of Australia this year.
As winning writers and publications in the Christian press were announced, so was the winner of the 2013 federal election.
The timing did not prevent attendees from enjoying a wonderful night of celebration and recognition of professional achievement at the Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) awards night.
The awards night was the culmination of the two-day ARPA conference held at the Marriott Hotel in Melbourne last month.
Keynote speakers for the conference were Dr Margaret Simons, Director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism at the University of Melbourne and award-winning freelance author, and Father Frank Brennan, Jesuit priest and human rights lawyer who writes regularly for online publication Eureka Street.
The theme of this year’s ARPA conference was ‘Good news for all seasons’. And it was good news indeed for the VicTas synod Communication and Media Services (CoMS) unit who took home two awards for articles published in Crosslight.
Chip Henriss, senior advisor communications, won a Gold Award for Best Social Justice Article for ‘Australia Day, triumph or tragedy?’ Andrew Juma, senior advertising and print services officer won a Bronze Award for Best Opinion Piece for his article, ‘Is development aid a failure?’
Other UCA synod publications were well-represented in the awards. Former editors of the NSW synod magazine Insights, Marjorie Lewis-Jones and Stephen Webb, won The Gutenberg Award – ARPA’s Premier Annual Award – for their outstanding contribution to journalism in the field of Christian publishing.
Prior to the awards night, Uniting Church member and writer, Clare Boyd-Macrae facilitated an ecumenical service where she addressed the unique role of Christian writers.
“As Christian writers, editors and journalists, we are called to be the best writers, editors and journalists that we can be. We are also called to share good news for all seasons.
“But the good news that we are compelled to share is not some saccharine, cheesy thing. Nor is it moral outrage, judgment on ‘the world’, or setting everybody right (as if we could!) because we have some sort of direct line to God … [it is] to name and critique the evils in the society they live in … tell the stories of the little people that the world ignores [and] remind people of wonder.”
Editor of Crosslight, Deb Bennett and director of the CoMS unit, Penny Mulvey formed part of the convening committee for this year’s conference. Attendees overwhelmingly offered positive feedback about the event with most already looking forward to next year.