'A worthy winner'
William Wade, Baptist minister of Life Church, Cuffley in Hertfordshire, has been voted as the winner of Sermon of the Year 2020
William’s sermon on the theme of ‘Made by God’ was declared the winner by both the judging panel and audience vote following the grand final, which this year was broadcast online due to Covid-19.
Sermon of the Year is an event organised by Preach magazine, now in its fifth year, which aims to promote the art of sermon writing and preaching. Entry was by submitting a 1500-word sermon on the 2020 theme. The finalists still had the chance to preach live to the judges (via Zoom) and the audience (‘congregation’) was increased ten-fold by showing the four sermons in one video on YouTube.
Head Judge, Dr Chloe Lynch, Lecturer in Practical Theology at the London School of Theology said, ‘The judges enjoyed all four preaches that we heard and we were encouraged by the ease with which the preachers adapted to delivering their sermons via video-conferencing.
‘William’s sermon demonstrated powerful communication skills and a creative engagement of the theme in the context of some detailed attention to a biblical text.’
The announcement of the winner was made on Premier Christian Radio earlier in August.
On being told of his win, William, said, ‘It was such a surprise to find out that my sermon had been voted Sermon of the Year 2020! This has been a fantastic experience, from entering way back in February, through to the recording, the online 'live preach' and now reaching the end, it has been a really joyful and encouraging process.
‘I entered Sermon of the Year 2020 because I was immediately struck by the title 'Made by God' and wondered what would come out of a sermon if I were to attempt that title.’
He said it was an ‘absolute surprise’ simply to reach the final, adding, ‘I really enjoyed writing the sermon and hoped that whoever read it would at least be blessed by it.’
‘I would strongly recommend anyone considering entering for 2021 to give it a go!.’
William, 49, was born in Belfast and became a rebellious teenager. This developed into getting in trouble with the police and being expelled from school. However, at a party one Saturday night, two 15-year-old girls gate-crashed and told the house full of drunk young men that they needed to ‘get right with God’. From this, William says, ‘three weeks later, four of us committed our lives to Jesus’.
He went on to become a soldier in the British Army and then, after getting married, became a missionary to British Forces with SASRA before moving to his current church in Cuffley, Hertfordshire.
Louisa Lockwood, editor of Preach magazine, which organises the event, said, ‘We have been so encouraged by all the efforts made by everyone involved in Sermon of the Year in such difficult circumstances. A huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who took the trouble to enter. They all deserve congratulations.
‘William is a worthy winner and I’m delighted for him.’
The trophy was presented by Alexandra McDonald, Commercial Director of SPCK, Sponsor of Sermon of the Year 2020.
Videos of the trophy handover and of the final can be viewed via links at preachweb.org/final