Meet the 2010 Global Partners
The Global Partners grants will assist 14 communicators from all over the world to travel to and participate in RCCongress 2010, April 7-10, 2010 in Chicago, IL.
Mijail Orlandovich Tornes Chmirenko
Mijail Orlandovich Tornes Chmirenko from Santiago, Cuba is a web designer and developer, currently working in application development and youth animation. He is of Catholic affiliation. Chmirenko looks forward to the knowledge he hopes to gain from RCCongress 2010 and for the unity of the Christians present.
"The religious presence in the web is beginning to be felt but, in most cases, lacks the 'glow' and services that many people hope to find," explained Chmirenko. "If someone can make it for selfish and mundane purposes, why can't we make it for evangelizing, for God's glory?"
Kpalla Matomklawe from Togo, Africa is a communication officer at the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Togo. As a leading Christian journalist and member of WACC Africa, she participated in and reported WACC's Congress 2008. She is an advocate for peace journalism and communication rights.
She is excited for the chance to contribute and benefit from RCCongress 2010. "I will bring something back for my brothers and sisters in my country," said Matomklawe.
Rolando Perez is a mass communications graduate student at the University of Colorado. Perez, from Peru, is a member of the Presbyterian Church. He is a communicator for the Communication Studies Institute (IEC) in Peru, an ecumenical organization devoted to the training and research of religious communication.
Perez's professional goals are to work in the academic field and to continue promoting social advocacy.
Perez believes, "Contemporary media not only serves as an important instrument to convey religious beliefs but also contributes an important part of religious mediation."
Perez looks forward to meeting other communication professionals and sharing new strategies at RCCongress 2010.
Reuben Twinomujuni from Uganda is the communications and information officer for the West Ankole Diocese. Twinomujuni is of Anglican affiliation.
Twinomujuni overseas the organization's website and all marketing and PR material. Currently, he is working to establish a radio station for the Diocese, as well as looking at internet possibilities, including blogging.
"There is a need to communicate what is current in the faith realm so that the faithful are aware," said Twinomujuni. "People need to be given relevant communication technology and information."
Reuben Twinomujuni looks forward to sharing the information gathered at RCCongress 2010 with his colleagues and using it to advance their communication.
Innocent Ebere Uwah
Innocent Ebere Uwah from Nigeria is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Dublin City University studying film and communication.
Upon graduation, Uwah will return to his job as Ahiara Diocesan (Catholic) Director of Communications in Nigeria. His next career step is to work in the area of pastoral communications.
"The challenge," explained Uwah, "is to promote the presence of the gospel message in the media in order to elicit faith response paradigms in people's daily lives."
Uwah plans to bring back the ideas and knowledge gained from RCCongress 2010 to his home country.
Bassem Maher from Alexandria, Egypt is a project manager for Ibrahimia Media Center (IMC), an organization affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, dedicated to using the media for social change and the betterment of Arab society.
Currently, the organization's focus is facilitating interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Christians in the Middle East. They are producing a TV special for the issue.
Maher has two career paths he hopes to follow in the near future: continue spreading faith and understanding through mediums like TV and the internet; and to work more in interpersonal communication, especially among youth.
"Communication has become an indispensable tool within every aspect of human life, not just the world of faith," explained Maher. "There are misconceptions and negative stereotypes about people of different faiths, and despite the communication revolution, ignorance about one another is widely spread. Therefore communicators have the responsibility to change this situation by challenging these misconceptions and spreading realities instead of false images."
Wang Rong-Wei from Shanghai, China is editor-in-charge of Tian Feng Magazine, the magazine of Protestant churches in China.
Rong-Wei is also affiliated with the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China (National TSPM). He is particularly interested in the future of media.
"With the focus on new media, such as blogging, wiki, Facebook, television, etc., this will probably become the major tool in disseminating world religions as we step into 2010," said Rong-Wei. "The biggest challenges I see are: whether the media can truly serve religion; whether it can help religious and social harmony; and under the supervision of the media, whether religion can restore its real function."
Catherine Ouma from Kenya directs all print and internet communication at the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), a Pan-African Ecumenical organization.
She is also pursuing a master's degree in communication. Ouma is a member of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa. She is eager to contribute to and learn from the technology forum available at RCCongress 2010.
"Through today's technology, you can receive spiritual nourishment from the comfort of your home, or give a church offering through the 'mpesa' (mobile phone money transfer in Kenya) service without going to the traditional church," explained Ouma. "Spiritual messages can be sent to your phone or desktop, all courtesy of modern communication. A church that is not alive to the power of communication and technological advancements is headed for doom. Hence, the importance of RCCongress 2010."
Sheila Mulinya from Kenya is a television producer for Ukweli Video Productions.
Mulinya is of Catholic faith and also works as a youth minister for her local church.
She believes participating in RCCongress 2010 will benefit her by strengthening her communication skills through its various workshops and programs, thus, also benefiting her home country.
"The biggest challenge [in Africa] is that there is a growing rate of secularism among African nations with the predominance of TV shows that place little attention on virtues. Poor infrastructure, ignorance, poverty, disease and poor governance are other factors."
Obah Akweba serves as a journalist for the Presbyterian Church Center in Cameroon, Africa. She also develops radio programs for the church and helps manage its magazine.
Akweba is excited for the opportunity to meet other religious communicators at RCCongress 2010.
"It will be an interesting opportunity for participants to look at the challenges of religious communication in the present as opposed to the past and discuss how to communicate Christ effectively in today's world," said Akweba.
Andres Rodriguez is an independent web designer and graphic artist from Uruguay.
Rodriguez, of Baptist affiliation, is a communications student in Montevideo and has interned with the World Student Christian Federation. Rodriguez said he will apply the knowledge gained from RCCongress throughout his career.
"I will share my experience with many people who have a strong commitment to interfaith dialogue and to serving the community through social service," said Rodriguez.
Aline Koller works as a journalist for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brazil. She also manages the denomination's website, two magazines and newspaper. Koller volunteers in the youth ministry.
Koller, who hopes to develop Christian television programming in the near future, carries advice for church bodies in her county.
"The church bodies need to identify the best way to become news and the best way to communicate what they have to say in a professional and worthy way," she said.
Koller is excited to attend RCCongress 2010.
"As soon as I saw this opportunity to participate in RCCongress 2010, I thought it would be a wonderful way for me learn the skills needed to progress communication in my church body in Brazil.... I plan to utilize the knowledge obtained in my work, and to pass this knowledge forward, to the congregation, especially the youth."
Erick Coll Gonzalez
Erick Coll Gonzalez serves as director of communication for the Christian Institute on Gender Studies (ICEG) in Cuba. He also teaches photography at the Higher Institute of Design and is a photographer for the Evangelical Theological Seminary.
Gonzalez is a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
He believes that faith communicators have a strong duty to social justice.
"As professional communicators, it is our responsibility, to include in the media agenda, issues that we think are essential: gender justice, peace, reconciliation, and the message of hope the gospel calls for," said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is looking forward to the networking and collaboration benefits of RCCongress 2010.
"I hope to meet other photographers devoted to Christian communication so that we can exchange best practices that will help sharpen our work."
Marcela Gabioud is a freelance writer, radio broadcaster and professor in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Gabioud is of Methodist affiliation and is a WACC member. Her next career step is to help reform public policies on gender and communication.
Gabioud hopes to bring new ideas to RCCongress 2010.
"I believe that the intersection between communication and religion must be given by the formation of specialized messages to different audiences, as not all think and have the same experiences," said Gabioud.
Congratulations Global Partners! See you in Chicago in April 2010!