September 6-9 was set aside for the Christian media conference and Melbourne's Belinda Croft and Laura Veloso were both excited by their participation:
Laura Veloso who arrived home last night said of the Christian media experience that "being yourself in your writing became paramount to me, and I was inspired by telling the story, not polishing the Word of God, the journelling in devotional writing and listening before I write."
Belinda Croft returned to Melbourne encouraged by the quality of writers, editors and creative people in Christian print media. "I was particularly moved by the Hothouse panel of speakers. Four very different people making a huge impact in their sphere of influence. It was so refreshing to hear these four people talking from their heart about the passion God has given them to change the world. The workshops were helpful for me in the areas of; feature writing, photography, content and being humble, and confident in writing and sharing The Story."
Friday morning was a Wellington bus tour followed by a full Maori welcome (Powhirl) and luncheon at Te Wharewaka o Poneke along with a demonstration of traditional musical instruments.
The annual lively HotHouse followed lunch with four speakers giving 10 minute presentations (World Vision, Youth Ministries, Fashion and Politics) after which the AGM saw New Zealand's Errol Pike re-elected as President and the long serving Executive Officer Allan Sauer retire (formally in October).
Author, film maker and reluctant theologian Mike Riddell presented the first plenary of the conference where he illustrated that although there is a beginning and an end to writing, what is in the centre is where words convey ideals and float around in order for our imaginations to flirt.
First up Peter Bentley the NSW ARPA Co-ordinator gave a heart wrenching account of journalists who have been killed on the battle field "doing their job" from the Malabo five through to recent deaths in Afghanistan.
The first plenary of the day was given by Graham Burt (marketing business) and chairman of New Zealand's largest theological college, Laidlaw in Auckland. His presentation featured words being precious and sacred and to spare them any misinterpretation and hardship by not using many. In his world the less words to convey the important messages was paramount. Christian Writers were invited to try this revolutionary thought.
Then it was to the workshops – two one hour options with each time slot, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. It was a power packed day. Options included feature writing (which requires many words), cultural voices, editorial design, print journalism, church and community, photography, going on-line, social media and devotional writing.
To much acclaim Julie Belding M.A. (Hons), B.Th was awarded the 2012 Gutenberg Award with her 20 years of untiring, extensive and exemplary service to ARPA in New Zealand.
Twenty other awards (gold, Silver, Bronze) were presented from a total of 336 entrants from the best original photography to the best editorial/opinion piece. The various Uniting Church publications around Australia picked up 14 awards.
ARPA includes a wide variety of Christian media personnel and this conference saw numbers of church bulletin/magazine editors attend. It concluded with a quiet sensitive worship service at St Paul's Old Cathedral in Wellington. Next year's ARPA conference will be held in Melbourne the same first weekend of September.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html