Unbound 2016 Highlights: 8 Awards From the Associated Church Press

ACP Best in Class Award of Merit 2016

As we announce these awards given by the Associated Church Press (ACP), we start with thanks to all contributors of articles to Unbound! We do not know all the principles used by ACP to select individual articles, but we treasure each work submitted to the cause, knowing that the combined effect is greater than any voice in isolation. Please check out the 5 articles below by Kerri Allen, Alonzo Johnson, Laura Cheifetz, Chris Iosso, and Meg Peery McLaughlin, each of which won an award for individual work.

We also thank Ginna Bairby, then managing editor, for her fine work evident in three more awards: for the issues A Year for Confessions: Issues of Social Justice Before the 222nd General Assembly and  Call to Confession: Race, White Privilege, and the Church, and for an “Award of Merit – Best in Class/Online: Independent Website” for the journal itself. This is the largest number of awards Unbound has won, though it has won awards in each of the past four years.

Here are the Associated Church Press Awards won by Unbound and its contributors for work done in 2016:

Individual Article Awards

Award of Excellence – Reporting and Writing: Personal Experience/1st Person Account (long format) – Race Gives Me Poetry, Laura Cheifetz

Rev. Cheifetz speaks to the value of racial identity, writing, “Racism strips me of my humanity, and racial identity hands it right back.”  Her article celebrates how diversity enriches cultural life, thriving in spite of racism by stimulating self-expression.

Award of Excellence – Editorial or Opinion Piece: News Service/Website/Blog –
Christian Stakes in an Election When Civility and Civil Religion Seem Dead, Chris Iosso

In the face of the least civil political discourse seen in living memory, Rev. Iosso describes the deeper loss of past US “civil religion” as a unifying, preserving force for democracy, and calls for maintaining civic norms while resisting new forms of theocratic nationalism.

Award of Merit – James Solheim Award for Editorial Courage –
Why I Haven’t Felt at Home in a Presbyterian Church for Three Years, Kerri Allen

Rev. Kerri Allen bears witness to painful truths in this article, testifying to moments of crystallized racism in her experience within the Church.  She reminds us that, despite decades of anti-racism work, there is fundamental work yet to do in every corner of every institution.  Our church is not exempt.

Award of Merit –Reporting and Writing: Personal Experience/1st Person Account (long format) – “You Look Like a Thug!”: Dog-Whistling and Sin-Talk, Alonzo Johnson

Rev. Alonzo Johnson shares first-hand accounts of violent, terrifying racial profiling and of the subtler racism that criminalizes Black men with coded language—language which commandeers careless everyday speech.  His experience demonstrates both the stakes and the universality of America’s “original” and enduring sin.

Award of Merit – Theological: Devotional/Inspirational (long format) –
As Close as Our Very Breath: A Sermon for Those Who Feel Afraid, Meg Peery McLaughlin

The poetry of Rev. Meg Peery McLaughlin reminds us to breathe, a mantra of relaxation in opposition to the insinuating fear which otherwise pervades all sides of politics.

Issue Awards

Award of Merit – Reporting and Writing: Convention/Meeting Coverage –
A Year for Confessions: Issues of Social Justice Before the 222nd General Assembly,
Ginna Bairby and Chris Iosso

At the 2016 General Assembly, aspirational proposals were put forward on many different dimensions: from embracing LGBTQ individuals, to proposed apologies for past action or inaction, to international peacemaking, to engagement with climate change.  Many of these issues were contentious, and some had no clear-cut solution—both reasons why reporting on and discussing the results of the 222nd GA were critical.

Award of Merit – Reporting and Writing: Theme Issue, Section or Series –
Call to Confession: Race, White Privilege, and the Church, Ginna Bairby and Chris Iosso

Race remains a colossal issue in a church and a nation that are deeply divided.  In this issue, Unbound again uses the double meaning of “confession” as repentant action and as a declaration of theological importance. This raises the moral stakes of racism for Presbyterians, who lift up a set of theological statements called “confessions” of faith.

Journal Award

Award of Merit – Best in Class/Online: Independent Website—Unbound

 We thank the Associated Church Press for lifting up our ministry. We hope to always provide a home for well-written articles, but our greater hope is to be a part of transformative social change.

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