2010 ECMA Awards Announced
OCANews.org has been voted “The Best Church News Blog” by the 2010 Eastern Christian Media Awards. It is the second time in a row OCANews.org has been recognized, having won the award in 2009 as well.
Interestingly, OCA clergy and laity won awards in 7 of the 11 categories, and picked up gold medals in 5: including Best Jurisdictional Site (OCA.org), Best Church News Blog (OCAnews.org - Mark Stokoe, OH), Best Individual Blog (Glory to God for All Things- Fr. Stephen Freeman, TN), Best Domestic Blog ( "Journey to Orthodoxy" - Fr. John Peck) and Best Theology Blog (Frontier Orthodoxy- Fr. Oliver Herbel, ND). Silver medals were given to OCA clergy and laity in 3 categories: Best Podcast (Speaking the Truth in Love - Fr. Tom Hopko, PA), Best Theology Blog (Fr. Ted’s Blog - Fr. Ted Bobosh, OH and Best Forum (Orthodox Forum). Bloggers and websites identified with the Antiochian and Greek Archdiocese also won multiple awards, as did programs identified with the internet-based “Ancient Faith Radio” sponsored by Conciliar Ministries. Several sites and bloggers do not identify any jurisdictional affiliation beyond “Orthodox”.
The ECMA awards have been presented annually since 2008, and offer “opportunity for quality Eastern Christian outlets to gain higher visibility on the Internet” according to the Awards’ web site at ecawards.blogspot.com. Nominations and voting are conducted online during November by “people from all over the world”, according to the ECMA.
The “Digital Continent”
News and online content is being increasingly recognized as important by Church bodies. In a fascinating post on November 29th, Terry Mattingly, a professional journalist and Orthodox Christian - who is syndicated nationally in the Scripps Howard newspapers - quoted in his personal blog (TMatt.net) a recent report given to Catholic hierarchs. Mattingly writes: “In the past, the church would often build new parish structures, knowing that people would recognize the church architecture and start showing up. On the Digital Continent, ‘If you build it, they will come’ does not hold true,” said Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, La., in a report from the body’s (The National Conference of Catholic Bishops) communications committee. Mattingly continued the Bishop’s quote: “We digital immigrants need lessons on the digital culture, just as we expect missionaries to learn the cultures of the people they are evangelizing. We have to be enculturated. It’s more than just learning how to create a Facebook account.”
Mattingly then offered some disturbing statistics from that same report: “While the church is making converts, those who have left Catholicism in recent years outnumber those who have joined by nearly a 4-to-1 ratio.
Almost half of those who left Catholicism and did not join another church exited before the age of 18, as did one-third of those who chose to join another church. Another 30 percent of young Catholics left the church by the age of 24. At that point, the departure rate slowed down.
Truth is, it is almost impossible to talk about the lives of teens and young adults without discussion the growing power of their social-media networks. For young people worldwide, social media and their mobile devices have become the “first point of reference” in daily life...”
“The implications of that for a church which is struggling to get those same young people to enter our churches on Sunday are staggering. If the church is not on their mobile device, it doesn’t exist.”
Mattingly notes: “The Herzog report was a step forward, primarily because the bishops seem to realize this is a subject that they cannot ignore. That’s significant in an era in which many Vatican officials still cling to their fax machines and struggle to keep up with their email...."
Mattingly concludes by citing the end of the Herzog report:
"The theoretical stakes are high, noted Herzog, but it has also become impossible to ignore the raw numbers. For example, if the 500 million active Facebook users became their own nation, it would be the world’s third largest — behind China and India.”
“Anyone can create a blog. Everyone’s opinion is valid. And if a question or contradiction is posted, the digital natives expect a response and something resembling a conversation,” said Herzog. “We can choose not to enter into that cultural mindset, but we do so at great peril to the Church’s credibility and approachability in the minds of the natives. …This is a new form of pastoral ministry. It may not be the platform we were seeking, but it is an opportunity of such magnitude that we should consider carefully the consequences of disregarding it.”
You can read all of this article at www.tmatt.net.
- Mark Stokoe