Fr. Jim Gardiner, SA, was honored to host the 70th Wilbur Awards Ceremony in mid-April in Chicago. Since 1949, the Wilbur Awards have recognized secular media who have effectively produced content that touches on religious issues, values, and themes.

The ceremony emphasized the vital role that media plays in our lives and our culture, and the award itself demonstrates the power that comes from creating work that communicates religious ideals in the public space.

“The beauty of placing your heart and soul into your work is that it moves forward and captivates the heart and soul of those who consume it,” said Fr. Gardiner. “It was an honor to play a small part in honoring these professionals for their creative work.”

The awards were given in seven categories: Magazines, Newspapers, Books, Film and Video, Digital Communications, Radio or Podcasts, and Television and Cable. The winners demonstrated a unique capability to showcase universal truths found in those with faith of all kinds. The Atonement Friars’ ecumenical spirit made Fr. Gardiner a natural choice as host.

“Diversity is a big topic in our culture, as it should be. But what’s missing from the conversation is religious literacy – knowledge regarding how people of faith operate in light of their beliefs. Creating public content that tells the story of religious people is vital to our culture,” added Fr. Gardiner.

Fr. Gardiner went on to say that religious literacy plays a key part in dialogue, not only on a large scale regarding legislation, but also in the daily lives of individual people. “We tend to fear what we don’t understand. By reading, viewing, or hearing the stories of people from a different religious background than our own, one is better able to listen and become an instrument of peace in a time of conflict.”

The awards ceremony took place in Chicago during the Religion Communicators Council’s 90th annual convention. Twenty-two professionals received awards for work that was completed in 2018. The award is named for the late Marvin C. Wilbur, a trailblazer in religious public relations, former Presbyterian Church executive, and longtime member of the council.