The Sermon of the Year 2019 has been won by Clare Masters, an Anglican reader and former palliative care doctor, in an exciting final which took place at LST.
Preach Magazine and the London School of Theology hosted the national final of the Sermon of the Year competition on Thursday to celebrate and reward excellence in preaching. The four finalists were given ten minutes to preach on the theme The Power of Love.
Clare Masters preached her narrative 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).
Clare is a Reader in the Church of England and has been preaching over the past 10 years at her village church in Kent. Clare is married to Rob and has three children.
Her winning sermon was an illustrative piece on Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the issue of blood, relating the stories to themes of belonging, hope and healing. The judges praised her delivery and content, referring to her “incredible gift of storytelling”, and the skill of her sermon.
Clare said: “I happened to see a post on our diocesan Facebook page about the Sermon of the Year, with its aim to encourage and celebrate the art of preaching. I love bringing the Bible to life for our church family, especially stories of encounters with Jesus, so I decided to submit a sermon - despite being wary of the ‘competition’ factor.
“Being selected as a finalist was a great surprise, and the final was an amazing evening with Preach Magazine and LST proclaiming God’s love.”
The runner-up was Olivia Ashton, a first year ordinand at St. Mellitus College hoping to be ordained into the Church of England by 2021. Olivia’s sermon explored love and the need for it to be sincere and patient like God’s love toward us.
The other two finalists were Emma Ash, a student and writer who has preached less than 10 times, and Steve Collinson, a retired head teacher and Methodist Local Preacher from Northumberland.
The Sermon of the Year was launched in 2016 by London School of Theology and Preach magazine, with the hope that it would encourage debate and reflection on the craft of preaching.
Last year’s winner, Lydia Lee, is a retired secondary school teacher and her winning sermon was the first she’d ever preached. The judges were impressed by her personal and profound take on the competition’s theme, ‘Be Set Free,’ and enjoyed her poised yet vulnerable delivery.
The winner of Sermon of the Year 2019 is able to gift their year’s free tuition to another UK resident if they wish and the runner up prize is either 50% off a year’s study or a £250 voucher to spend on resources. The top 10 sermons submitted have been published in a book and previous Sermon of the Year books can be purchased from CPO.org.uk for £5.