TMA, Melbourne clergy honoured in religious press awards

TMA staff and contributors take home four awards

By Mark Brolly

TMA has won bronze awards in four categories of the annual Australasian Religious Press Association [ARPA] awards, while Melbourne clergyman the Revd Dr Gordon Preece won gold for his profile of Australian theologian and biblical scholar Professor Robert Banks. 

The awards, usually made at ARPA's annual conference dinner in September, were announced on the ecumenical and trans-Tasman organisation's website in late October this year because COVID-19 had forced the cancellation of the intended conference in Perth. 

The Revd Canon Professor Dorothy Lee, of Trinity College Theological School, was awarded bronze in the Best Theological Article category for her September 2019 article NT’s women show us God’s inclusive plan. The judge's remarks said in part that the article was "a remarkably concise yet comprehensive summary of the place of women in the economy of God, as recorded in the New Testament".  

"The article concludes that the New Testament attests to the equality of women and men within the home and the church, as well as in the secular arena, and that ‘complementarianism’ is not in accord with the scriptural evidence. The article is remarkable for covering a great deal of ground in a most easily accessible way. It is a valuable resource in one page and shows the fruits of the author’s very extensive research and writing experience in this field." 

Former Melbourne vicar, the Revd Dr Mark Durie, was awarded bronze in the Best Editorial/Opinion Piece category for his May 2019 TMA article, The Pentecostals are coming. Are we ready? 

The judge commented: "The rise of Pentecostalism is the elephant in the cathedral. There are now more people in the (Pentecostal) Australian Christian Churches each Sunday than in any other Protestant denomination. The lower Pentecostal age profile means that before long, their members may also outnumber Catholics at Mass. Well worth a read – it’s on the web." 

TMA's designer Ivan Smith was again recognised for one of his covers, this time a bronze award for Best Cover – Newspaper for his Christmas illustration and poem, Finding Jesus amid the tinsel, in last December's paper. Ivan's covers have been recognised in previous ARPA awards. 

The judges remarked: "The stylised drawing provided an effective way of highlighting Christmas as the tinsel elements could be drawn upon in an overall look, and along with the brief reflective poem this provided a clear focus for the cover and theme of the edition."  

In the same edition, a four-page Summer Reading Special edited by Anglican Media's Communications Manager and TMA Editor Emma Halgren and designed by Ivan Smith was awarded a bronze award in the Best Feature by Multiple Authors category. 

The judge said the feature was "beautifully laid out" and the book reviews by 13 authors provided TMA readers with "a bounteous choice of books to occupy their summer holidays".  

"The writers covered a variety of demographics – gender, age, lay/ordained with one Aboriginal voice. The reviews covered both fiction and non-fiction, Australian authors and a children’s book. Perhaps a bit more ethnic diversity for your next Summer special could be good. What is intriguing is that TMA has a book review committee! The writing was engaging, personal and definitely had me writing down some more titles to my recommended reading list!" 

Dr Preece's award-winning profile, published in Zadok Perspectives, was said by the judges to be "a joy to read and comprehend". 

The Gutenberg Award, ARPA's premier award, was made to Eternity, a national news service for Australian Christians published by Bible Society Australia. 

ARPA President Ms Sophia Sinclair of NZ said in her citation that Eternity was named after the famous chalk copperplate script Arthur Stace spent 37 years writing on Sydney’s footpaths, "an act of obedience to tell others about his Christian faith, to point people to consider how their actions would echo in eternity".  

Editor John Sandeman, an Anglican from Sydney, founded the national newspaper in 2009 with David Maegraith.  

"Their desire was to see a quality news publication created for the Christian audience in Australia," Ms Sinclair wrote.  

"Under John Sandeman’s leadership, Eternity has provided an outstanding mix of personal testimonies, opinion, national stories of Christian interest, local reflection on international events, in-depth issues reportin  and news. The quality of writing and the excellent standard of presentation reflect John’s years of experience in the secular news media and his desire to bring this professional integrity into the field of Christian news. 

More than 10 years after starting as a monthly printed newspaper, Eternity has built a successful online presence ... While COVID-19 has meant the end of the printed publication, Eternity continues as an online news service, accompanied by the Eternity Podcast Network ... Eternity content is also featured in the newly-created Bible Society Magazine." 

NZ Catholic was named ARPA's Publication of the Year. 

Anglican publications throughout Australia featured prominently in the awards. The Gippsland Anglican's former Editor, Ms Jan Down, was highly commended in the Best Feature by a Single Author category for her article, ‘Lake Tyers’ History and Aboriginal Ministry Today’, as was Tara Sing of Sydney's Southern Cross for 'Multicultural Workers and Ministry'. 

Southern Cross also won gold for Best Review for Judy Adamson's review of the film, The Final Quarter, while Bush Church Aid Society publication The Real Australian took out gold for Best Cover for a Magazine, for 'This Fabulous Century' by Janine van den Tillaart, Rebecca Jee and Ted Brush. Queensland's Anglican Focus was awarded gold for Best Social Media Campaign for #AprilAngel. 

The Willochran in South Australia won silver for Best Regional Publication, and Southern Cross won silver for Best Original Illustration for 'The great Australian vice' by Stephen Mason.  

 * Note to readers: TMA's Mark Brolly is Australian Vice-President of ARPA but, as an executive member of the organisation, is not a judge for the annual awards.