Christian communicators from across the nation and around the world gathered in Nashville February 27-March 2 for Proclaim 18, the NRB International Christian Media Convention.
Participants heard from key ministry heads, media experts, thought leaders, and government officials, while also networking and checking out new resources, services, organizations, and upcoming films.
Among the dozens of speakers this year was most notably Vice President Mike Pence, who addressed Convention attendees during the Super Session on February 27.
Pence told the audience of communication professionals, “[Y]our ministry, your message, your values are needed now more than ever before. … Every day, every hour, you speak strength to the heart of the American people. You shape our country. You water the roots of this nation.
“[Y]ou have the power to strengthen the character of this nation,” he added.
Like many other speakers at Proclaim 18, Pence also paid tribute to the late Billy Graham, who passed away the week before the Convention and whose funeral was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, on the last day of the Convention.
The vice president pointed to the late evangelist as a model for the Christian communicators.
Graham’s message “transcended politics,” Pence said. “So must yours.”
Throughout the Convention week, the world-famous evangelist was remembered as a man of humility, kindness, and integrity whose authority came from the Bible.
On the first day of the Convention, the National Religious Broadcasters Board of Directors adopted six resolutions, including one that honored Graham’s legacy.
A video honoring Graham’s life and ministry was shown at various events, including the closing gala, where he was touted as “the most well-known member of NRB, ever.”
Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of NRB, said if NRB was in the dictionary, “I would want the picture of Billy Graham to be the picture beside that entry in the dictionary.”
NRB inducted Graham into its Hall of Fame in 1981 and gave him its Chairman’s Award in 1989 and its Milestone Award in 2001. NRB also has an award named after Graham that is presented to those who effectively and creatively use multiple electronic media technologies in fulfillment of their mission, while maintaining fidelity to the message of love, redemption, and hope found in the Holy Scriptures. This year’s Billy Graham Award was presented to Southern California preacher Greg Laurie, who was scheduled to speak at the closing gala but was unable to do so due to his attendance at Graham’s funeral service.
In a pre-recorded video message played during the closing gala, Laurie expressed his appreciation of the award and recalled some of his past experiences with Graham, who he said was the same in private as he was in public.
“He really was the kindest, most accessible man ever,” Laurie said.
During the Convention, NRB also provided a memorial book in which hundreds of attendees wrote messages of appreciation for the evangelist and his ministry.
NRB’s 75th Convention
While much of the Convention looked back at the life and ministry of Billy Graham, there was also focus on NRB’s history as the Convention in Nashville marked the association’s 75th annual gathering since 1944.
A 7-minute video shown during the Convention highlighted the past 74 years of NRB’s history in preparation for the association’s 75th anniversary in 2019. The video featured clips from convention speakers over the years, including Christian ministry leaders Adrian Rogers, Kay Arthur, Jack Graham, Max Lucado, Dennis Rainey, Tony Evans, Joni Eareckson Tada, Jerry Rose, and others, as well as U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.
The video also recalled the founding of the association, which formed after the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches) convinced the national radio networks to adopt regulations that exiled evangelical communicators to independent stations with a limited audience. Christian broadcasters met at Moody Church in Chicago in 1944 to establish NRB as a result.
NRB’s Internet Freedom Watch Initiative
Recalling NRB’s founding, Johnson reminded Convention attendees in his opening address on February 27 that it is NRB’s job to protect First Amendment freedoms, and the association of Christian communicators “is uniquely positioned” to do so.
The First Amendment’s “first three elements – religion, speech and press – that’s NRB,” he said.
Johnson talked about NRB’s new Internet Freedom Watch initiative, which he said marks a return to the reason for NRB’s founding in the 1940s.
Johnson said Internet Freedom Watch is the organization’s effort to curtail discrimination against Christian and conservative content on the internet. NRB unveiled the initiative at a December press conference in Washington, D.C., in which the association called attention to censorship by tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Apple.
The initiative was also highlighted during a Super Session on online censorship that featured Marjorie Dannefelser of Susan B. Anthony List; Tony Perkins of Family Research Council; radio talk show hosts Larry Elder and Dennis Prager; Todd Starnes of Fox News; and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who delivered opening remarks.
“America is only strong and America can only prosper when you have the free flow and exchange of ideas,” Perkins said. “There’s no question about it, we are a divided nation. But silencing one half of America is not going to bring peace, and it is not going to bring America together. It will only further divide.”
Despite the various challenges, there was much celebration during Proclaim 18 with the association approaching its 75thanniversary, and with the upcoming 70th anniversary of the modern state of Israel.
During the Special Israel Session on March 1, attendees heard from Holocaust survivor Luna Fuss-Kaufman, pastor David Jeremiah, Bible teacher Kay Arthur, and radio talk show host Dennis Prager.
In his remarks, Jeremiah reminded Proclaim 18 attendees that God promised to bless those who bless Israel, “and He has kept that promise faithfully.”
“No nation in history has blessed Israel like the United States of America, and no nation has been as blessed as the United States of America,” he noted.
Amid ongoing unrest in the Middle East, “We who know the Bible stand back and we don’t worry because we know the right to the Promised Land has already been determined by the only One who has the authority to determine it,” Jeremiah said.
He added, “God’s promise and the prophecies of His Word are overwhelmingly challenging us to place Israel in the center of our prayers, of our purposes, and of our protection.”
Another significant focus of this year’s Convention was on film and entertainment, with speakers including Dennis Quaid, Jim Caviezel, and Stephen Baldwin, among others. There was also a record number of film screenings at the Convention. The films screened at Proclaim 18 were Paul, Apostle of Christ, I Can Only Imagine, Staines, One Nation Under God, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, and Beautifully Broken.
In addition, Super Sessions included “The Power of Film” and “Writing, Acting, and Broadcasting as a Christian.” There was also a Pitch-a-thon and film industry sessions.
Sessions for each industry were held during Proclaim 18, including sessions on how TV apps have changed the game in the television industry, how Christian broadcasters can respond to crises, and how research is a vital component in decision-making and day-to-day operation.
“We all have what I call ‘gut,’” said Moody Radio VP Collin Lambert during a Radio Industry Session.
“You have this gut. You know when something’s working. But let me tell you, if you’re not willing to listen to what your listeners are saying, and let that shape what you’re feeling in your gut, I think you’re missing something,” he continued. “There’s a great value to the data.”
In addition to the speakers and sessions, another highlight of Proclaim 18 was the Convention’s award-winning Exposition – the largest marketplace dedicated to Christian media professionals, which this year featured around 200 organizations showcasing hundreds of products, services, and resources, including this year’s Titanium Convention Sponsor, Liberty HealthShare.
The Expo floor also featured autograph booths, a prayer bus, prize drawings, and a Learning Arena, where speakers from among the Convention’s exhibitors presented relevant education and training on new technologies, products and services, and more.
Industry sessions for Radio, TV, Church Media, Film, and International also took place this year on the Expo floor.
While much of the Convention and Exposition is geared toward ministry and media professionals, NRB also hosts events for college students – including three 24-hour challenges, which were sponsored this year by Christian Vision (CV).
The 24-hour CV Film, News, and Audio Challenges began at 9 a.m. on February 27. For the Challenges, teams of no more than four students prepared an original short narrative film; produced an original NRB news report package (3 video pieces); or wrote, recorded, and edited a 2-3 minute audio production with a length of 3 minutes or less — all created within a 24-hour time frame and incorporating a required theme, line of dialogue, and prop.
Winners were announced and recognized — receiving trophies and cash prizes — at an awards ceremony emceed by Inside Edition news correspondent Megan Alexander on March 1.
NRB Media and Special Service Awards
On the last day of Proclaim 18, several awards were presented to recognize the service and works of outstanding ministries, programs, producers, and leaders.
At the Media Awards Luncheon, awards were presented in the fields of Church Media, Digital Media, International, Radio, and TV.
During the Closing Gala Dinner, Special Service Awards were presented to six recipients, including MyPillow founder and president Mike Lindell, who received the President’s Award; Southern California pastor Greg Laurie, who received the Billy Graham Award; NRB Presidential Ambassador Wayne Pederson, who received the William Ward Ayer Award; and James A. Custer, Voice of the Martyrs, and WCTL-FM, each of whom received a Milestone Award for more than 50 years of service in ministry.
Earlier in the week, awards were also presented to international preachers Luis Palau and Billy Kim, both of whom were inducted into the NRB Hall of Fame. (For the complete list of 2018 award recipients, click here.)
Next year’s NRB International Christian Media Convention will be held March 26-29 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calfornia.
The theme of the 2019 convention marking the 75th anniversary of NRB will be Psalm 145:5: “One generation will declare your works to the next and will proclaim your mighty acts.”
This report was compiled by NRB Staff, with contributions by writers Tom Strode, Erin Roach, Michael Smith, and RuthAnne Irvin.
By NRB Staff