Sermon of the Year 2021: Hughes woos the pews

ByDave Hall

Sermon of the Year 2021: Hughes woos the pews

Catharine Hughes may enjoy winning at board games but she’s scooped top prize in a pursuit that is far from trivial.

Catharine, 50, is winner of Sermon of the Year 2021 – an online competition organised by Preach, the quarterly membership magazine published by the Leaders of Worship and Preachers Trust (LWPT).

‘I was very surprised to receive the trophy!’ said Catharine, a member Poynton Methodist Church in Cheshire. ‘Preaching has been something I’ve done for a number of years and it is always such a privilege to share God’s word. I’m very grateful to the judges. It’s unbelievable – and I just want to thank everybody who has helped me on my journey so far.’

Cross the Divide was the theme chosen for this year’s competition. Three finalists were selected from a host of entries from all Christian denominations. Preachers and would-be preachers were asked to submit a sermon of 1,500 words via the online form on the Preach website. The judges looked for how the Bible text was dealt with, how the biblical themes were handled, and how the structure, application and theme of the message were covered.

Ian Buchanan, chief executive of CRE exhibitor LWPT, commented: ‘We were especially impressed with the overall standard of entries received this year and very pleased that entries came from many different churches and people of all age groups.’

Catharine grew up in Yorkshire and became a Christian during a mission conducted by the late Rob Frost. She has a degree in maths and psychology and qualified as a chartered accountant. Her husband’s research took them and their two children to Lusaka, Zambia, which delayed her accreditation as a Methodist local preacher by four years but gave her plenty of practice – and stories for two books. She is now completing her second of three years’ part-time training for presbyterial ministry.

‘After being told I had won the award I was delighted, but also a bit anxious about preaching my next sermon to people who knew,’ she admitted. ‘But I fell from a horse and fractured my back and am now strapped up – so my next preach will be some time off!’

The other finalists were Philip Sudworth from Wigan and Katrina Clifford, from West Ewell, Surrey.         

Now in its sixth year the competition aims to promote the art of sermon writing and preaching and is open to all Christian denominations.

Ecumenical in outlook, Preach covers a topical theme in each edition to help preachers understand and explore current issues in a Christian context.

Photo: Sermon of the Year 2021 winner Catharine Hughes

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