COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – This year's annual Evangelical Press Association (EPA) convention came to a close on Friday, sending about 350 of today's top Christian journalists back to their respective cities.
The final day of the annual gathering, which was themed "Refresh, Renew, Recharge," hosted a variety of activities and culminated with the night's final reception dinner. The major event for members of the press gave Christian writers and publication workers the opportunity to make media connections while at the same time rejuvenating them from the grind of constant updates.
"This journalism world that you inhabit is truly amazing," Richard Foster, founder of an organization that works for renewal of the church, told attendants during the three-day gathering.
Since 1948, the EPA has sought to "promote the cause of evangelical Christianity and to enhance the influence of Christian journalism." Its annual gathering, which is generally held during the first full week of May, is the focal point of the EPA year and provides three days of learning, sharing, networking, and fellowship, as well as to conduct official association business.
Culminating this year's gathering was the awarding of this year's Awards of Excellence. Judges from all strains of publications gave notice to those periodicals, journals, and newspapers that have shown "overall excellence" in their works.
Awards were given for categories including Christian Ministries, Denominational, Devotional, General, Missionary, Newsletter, Newspaper, Online, Organizational, Youth, and Most Improved Publication.
Judges also gave out "Awards of Merit" to those groups that also showed exemplarily quality in each of the above categories.
Other highlights of the day included musical performances by several rising stars.
Teenage songstress Bethany Dillon graced the afternoon luncheon with her deep acoustic sounds and story-telling lyrics. She is one of Sparrow Records best youth, and has toured with Christian notables such as Jeremy Camp.
Irish duo, Keith and Kristyn Getty – piano and vocals respectively – performed as part of the closing banquet, presenting some of their more famous worship songs such as "In Christ Alone." The unique group is best known for creating a new wave of hymns for the modern churches to sing and unite generations in music.
As a final feature, the day concluded with a talk from Rod Dreher, an Eastern Orthodox writer and editor for The Dallas Morning News and author of Crunchy Cons.
The final presenter spoke about the problems with today's conservatives who are becoming too confined by consumerism. Today's people have become overly interested in materialism and living comfortably than for creating a better, more biblical atmosphere for tomorrow's generation, he said.
The EPA Convention will again be gathering in 2008 in Portland, Ore. It will be headed by the organization's new president, Lamar Keener, who is publisher of the Christian Examiner Newspaper Group.