THE Sermon of the Year competition has been won by a former primary school teacher, in an all-women final.
Lydia Lee, who is 27, preached her sermon in front of a live audience and a panel of judges to win the prize of a year’s tuition at the London School of Theology (LST).
LST and Preach magazine run the national competition jointly to “celebrate and reward excellence in preaching”. This year, contestants had to write a sermon on the topic “God in the Dark”.
Ms Lee finished teaching last summer, and now runs a café at her church, Holy Spirit, Bedgrove, where she preaches regularly.
Her winning sermon was a meditation on Jesus in the boat on the Sea of Galilee, relating the fear of the disciples to her own experience of anxiety and fear. The judges praised her delivery and content, referring to her “incredible gift of moving us to tears one minute and laughter the next”, and the “honesty and authenticity” of her sermon.
The runner-up was Rebecca Coatsworth, a copywriter for the Christian charity Open Doors.
The other two finalists were Corinne Broughton, a 19-year-old LST student who has rarely preached before, and Esther Longe, a Methodist deacon.
About 30 per cent of entries to the competition were from ordained men and women. More men than women entered the competition.
The Principal of LST, Calvin Samuel, said that the quality of the sermons was “fabulous”, and that he was pleased to see an all-female list of finalists. The finalists were chosen from a “blind” selection process, in which sermons were read without selectors knowing the name or gender of entrants.