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Presbyterians Today editor wins Best in Class award for third straight year

Donna Frischknecht Jackson’s Advent editorial gave Presbyterians hope during the pandemic

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Donna Frischknecht Jackson is editor of Presbyterians Today.

LOUISVILLE — For the third straight year, the Rev. Donna Frischknecht Jackson, editor of Presbyterians Today, has been awarded a Best in Class award, announced online Friday during the DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards by the Religion Communicators Council.

Jackson’s editorial, “Stepping into the holy story: Finding the blessing in a pandemic-altered Christmas,” asked some poignant questions during an Advent spent in pandemic isolation: “What if this year, by finding ourselves in a place we have never been before, scattered from one another without the traditions we cherish, we discover that we have an opportunity to participate in salvation’s scenes beyond a sanctuary?

“My prayer for us all is this Christmas we find ourselves standing in awe as we squeal with the realization, ‘I’m in the Christmas story!’”

“If you think you are disappointed that you won’t be able to sit in your church pew,” Jackson said, “imagine how Mary must have felt giving birth away from home and in a sable. Yet God was there and is still here with us.”

Jackson thanked her congregation for spurring her on to compete the piece.

“If it wasn’t for folks in the congregation calling me nonstop, asking ‘Pastor, what are we going to do for Christmas Eve worship? How is it going to be if we can’t worship together because of COVID?’ Because of all their phone calls and emails harassing me about what are we going to do, that led me to writing the editorial about how Christmas Eve will be different this year and how we are being invited to step into the [nativity] story and not a sanctuary.”

Jackson invited those listening to the Friday broadcast to “keep on writing, because the world really needs to hear about the God moments. Win or lose, trust those Holy Spirit nudges. Trust what God puts on your heart to nudge you to put out in print. Just trust it, because we all have a story to tell … As everyone knows, a good writer reads a lot, and I have been blessed by your writings as well. So, thank you.”

Jackson also won a blog award for her article, “And the steeple bell rang,” a story about a rural church’s Holy Week witness during the pandemic.

Presbyterians Today’s 2020 Advent devotional, “Let us light candles,” won a specialty publications award.

Three Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) communicators — Kathy Francis, Senior Director of Communications Ministry in the Presbyterian Mission Agency; Melody K. Smith, Manager of Organizational Communications; and Jeffrey Lawrence, Director of Communications, Media & Publishing — along with filmmaker Michael Fitzer of 180 Degrees — took home the promotional/informational single work award for their Matthew 25 social media videos.

The Rev. Emily Enders Odom, a communications specialist with Mission Engagement & Support, was named a Category Winner for her article, “Sarah Schoper Salazar can’t be easily dismissed,” a piece about a Presbyterian in Illinois who’s addressing structural racism in her community.

Lauren Rogers, a mission specialist in Special Offerings, won in the single work category for her editorial piece, “Bearing Peace Across Racial Divides.”

The Religion Communicators Council announced additional DeRose-Hinkhouse Award winners Monday.

Rogers won an Award of Merit for the PC(USA)’s Special Offerings website. She also garnered an Award of Merit for “Matthew 25 — The Church is Not a Building.” She also took home an Award of Merit for “Providing Hope, Independence and Belonging to Children Learning to Hear.”

Jackson won an Award of Excellence in the category “Articles and Stories — Single Work” for her Presbyterians Today story, “Grieving, mourning, finding hope after COVID-19.” She also won an Award of Merit for “Outdoor sanctuaries till new ministries: Church lawns become creation labs” in Presbyterians Today. She also earned an Award of Merit for “The great bookcase reveal.”

Presbyterian News Service Editor Mike Ferguson won an Award of Excellence for “Redeeming a racist bequest.”

The Rev. Paul Seebeck, a Mission Communication Strategist in the Presbyterian Mission Agency, won an Award of Excellence for his Matthew 25: Congregational Vitality video. He also received an Honorable Mention award for his “Seattle pastor survives coronavirus.”

The Rev. Brian Fesler hosted the 2021 DeRose-Hinkhouse Memorial Awards. Watch the awards ceremony here.

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