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The Banner, Breaking Barriers, Receive Church Press Awards


Each year, the Associated Church Press honors faith-based publications—including magazines, newsletters, websites, and more—with its “Best of the Church Press” awards. The Banner, official publication of the Christian Reformed Church, received 10 awards for work produced in 2019. The RCA-CRC Disability Concerns Breaking Barriers newsletter was honored with four awards this year. 

The contest had 940 entries from 62 organizations in 90 categories. This year’s awards were presented online March 19, after the annual convention was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Awards for The Banner

Awards of Excellence

Me and the Black Dog,” by Theresa Miedema (feature article magazine, short format)

“Beautiful, vivid, amazing writing. Absolutely tear-inducing. An incredible piece.”

Too Much Stuff,” by Laurie Sienkowski (art/design/graphics, free-standing humor illustration)

“This skillful caricature of a teeming, supersized shopping cart that won’t do what this couple wants it to do draws the reader into the text.”

Annual Ministry Report 2019,” by Kristen Vanderberg (marketing and public relations, annual report)

“… excelled in its execution, both by design and content. …  This documented [CRCNA’s] activities and finances in a comprehensive, detailed, enjoyable and easy-to-follow format. It did so by presenting clear sections to follow…. The annual report demonstrated implementation of innovation ideas and solutions providing a worldwide impact.”

Honorable Mentions

Synod 2019: Times Have Changed,” by Gayla R. Postma (convention or meeting coverage magazine, short format)

“This entry details the changes percolating through the Christian Reformed Church and how it was dealt with at the Synod 2019.”

Synod 2019,” by Gayla R. Postma, design by Pete Euwema (convention or meeting coverage magazine, long format)

“Nice clean minimal design. Love the treatments on the pull-quotes. Great use of typography across the board”

Evil,” by Trevor Denning (critical review, all media)

“The structure and flow of this review are perfect. The lead paragraph draws the reader into the story and the body of the article keeps them there. It is a well-crafted piece of writing, interesting and informative.”

#HerToo,” by Christina Brinks Rea (biblical interpretation, all media)

"Important topic with strong illustrations ... a good lesson for the church!"

Pagans, Puritans, and Putting Christ Back in Christmas,” by Justin Ariel Bailey (seasonal article, all media)

“Loved this piece on Christmas and mention of Tolkien and Lewis. Nicely illustrated by youth. My favorite line it takes on the pagan Christian criticism head on: ‘If the Christmas tree has a pagan origin, it is because Christ really fulfills the human longing to remain evergreen.’’’

Beware the Yeast of the Pharisees,” by Dean Heetderks (magazine cover)

“Striking color and simple text.” (online media, publication website)

“Clean design and clear navigation. Loved the story where I got to meet the staff, and hear about art director Dean Heetderks and graphic designer Pete Euwema. ... packed with content and simple photos. … Loved the Mixed Media roundup of hip music, etc.”

Awards for Breaking Barriers

Best in Class Awards of Merit

A Dance of Assumptions,” by Miriam Spies; “Life, Life, and More Life,” by Sarah Joy Walker; “Listening to Chris: The Mutual Path of Accommodation,” by Beverly Sullivant (blog)

“I loved your thoughts about living with CP instead of "suffering from." I learned a lot about how to disagree with someone's label, while still building bridges.”

Breaking Barriers, by Terry A. DeYoung, Mark Stephenson, co-editors (newsletter)

Breaking Barriers could be a vehicle for all-positive narratives about the experiences of those with disabilities and their families in the church, which would cloy and bore after a while. Instead, the publication includes both good and bad stories, plus advice and cautionary tales, succinctly told and presented in a handsome package.”

Honorable Mentions

A Foolish and Dangerous Assertion,” by Mark Stephenson (editorial or opinion, news service, website or blog)


Breaking Barriers, by Terry A. DeYoung and Mark Stephenson, co-editors (department, print publications)

“This department presents a wonderful approach to better understanding of issues faced by persons with disabilities. The focus on personal stories brings the particular issues surrounding disabilities to poignant life .....” 

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