The Australasian Religious Press Association 2017 Ramon William Youth Scholarship was presented Saturday evening in Auckland, New Zealand to Sophia Sinclair at the ARPA gala annual awards night.
Sophia Sinclair is a New Zealand freelance writer and editor living in Sydney, Australia, with her husband Andrew and their two boys Guy and Frank. Sophia previously worked as a journalist for RNZ National before moving to lead the communications team at the New Zealand Church Missionary Society (NZCMS).
After moving to Australia in 2015 she began working for Press Service International, helping coordinate a group of young writers to write comment pieces for Christian Today Australia. Sophia also joined the ARPA Executive in 2016, and now serves as Communications Officer. Sophia is currently studying towards a Graduate Diploma in Theology at Sydney Missionary and Bible College, and plans to relocate back to New Zealand in 2018.
In her acceptance speech, Sophia Sinclair spoke of her dream to become a woman of vision as encouraged by the women at ARPA and secondly working with New Zealand young writers next year. Sophia gave tribute to Dr Mark Tronson the chairman of Well-Being Australia who has tirelessly encouraged and supported her, her husband and family of two little boys. ARPA awards dinner guests expressed their agreement. The Christian Today platform is central to such acclaim.
Meanwhile ARPA's 2017 major annual award, the Gutenberg this year went to the dual publication The Record Magazine and its sister The eRecord. There were many distinguished specialist awards which well received whether they were the Best Comment or News Article, the Best Title … and the Best Publication of 2017 was The Melbourne Anglican.
The Auckland 2017 ARPA conference got under way after lunch on Friday 25 August at the Rydges where 54 Christian Press Media across Australia and New Zealand 'senior' editors and writers gathered for their annual convention.
The first session was led by John Fabrian CEO of the Endeavour Group and former CEO of Rhema Broadcasting Group. In essence John Fabrian, in his presentation on 'Connecting to the Community' put up numerous high profile (largely) New Zealand media identities with pin point accuracy straight forward 'focus points'.
Things like authenticity, time, intent, care, repair, testimony, connection, listening, engage, measure, anticipate, trust, relationships, showing up …. all sound biblical concepts for media ministry. He cited Philip with the Ethiopian Eunuch illustrating these core basic entreaties and finished on Psalm 139 verse 5 (see photo).
Photo - John Fabrian and his closing bible verse
Highly recognised New Zealand lawyer Mai Chen addressed the following session with her story, the very first public occasion given. Therefore it is inappropriate to give it here as much of it was personal and some of it was associated with issues of racial discrimination law for many private and institutional clients.
Mai Chen's time in the United Nations highlighting indigenous people led to her and her husband (a Scott) and family's return to New Zealand to peruse her current illustrious national identity. Her focus on diversity as different and empowering ethnic leaders to top national positions of acclaim provided a lesson in 'focus'.
The evening session was another annual highlight of Day 1, the Panel. This year's panel consisted of Rev Helen Jacobi Priest of St Matthews, the Auckland Anglican Cathedral; Julie Belding a highly respected editor and a New Zealand Baptist representative on the Baptist World Alliance; Dr Michael Otto editor NZ Catholic and Sophia Sinclair editor and writer.
Michael Otto's story warmed hearts as he spoke of his engineering PhD at 23, and father's engineering prowess of international acclaim who died suddenly at 49, followed within six months by both sets of grandparents. Engineering had lost its lustre which led him to employment as a journalist and eventually to his current role as editor of the NZ Catholic. Each panellist gave their story.
After the ARPA AGM, Lisa Woolley CEO of Vision West Community Trust on 'Connecting the Church to the wider community' and told her story of a dream to help the homeless to now, a $45m community project providing not only housing in West Auckland but along with a whole range of services to assist their community.
Children having their own room is a vital emotional experience for Lisa Woolley and one issue arises then with too many people in such a house provision and young people moving out as soon as possible. Education suffers as there is private space to do homework and study. This is a holistic package.
After lunch were the two seminars—held concurrently and twice, in order for everyone to participate in them both. Keitha Smith author and publisher led one on 'Writing for the Church and Community' and Justin St. Vincent the President of NZ Christian Writers and National Sales Manager Rhema Broadcasting on 'Marketing in the Church and Community'.
Next year ARPA will be held in Brisbane 7–9 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 mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html