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2018 Sermon of the Year won by former primary school teacher

by Cara Bentley

The London School of Theology hosted the final of the Sermon of the Year competition on Thursday. The four female finalists were given ten minutes to preach on the theme 'Be Set Free'.

It was a diverse final in terms of tone with humourous detail paid to passages, a personal testimony woven through the exposition of Matthew 8 and a narrative sermon as if by the woman caught in adultery in John's gospel.

It was the personal testimony of Lydia Lee and the telling of Jesus in the boat during the storm on Lake Galilee which won it for the judges - who were Krish Kandiah, Anne Calver, Antony Billington and Chloe Lynch.

Lydia Lee

The judges were mostly complimentary, highlighting finalists' swift and frequent references to Jesus, use of scripture and engagement with the congregation.

The constructive criticism consisted of gentle warnings to make sure preaching doesn't become about them and stays focused on Jesus and to explain the context of Bible passages for those who might not know them.

Lee told Premier after winning: "It just felt amazing to stand there and share and it's not a context you get very often so it was something very special and it's probably unlikely to happen again."

The prize is a year's worth of tuition at The London School of Theology (LST).

"I'll be on the phone to the admissions people at LST I guess in the morning and see what will be best for me going forward."

Calvin Samuel, LST Principle, said: "There were elements that I just had never thought about. She was preaching on one of my favourite texts and it had never occurred to me to imagine that Jesus had to raise his voice to shout over the storm to then ask 'Why are you afraid?' I mean for me that was awesome!

"I must have preached on that text at least a dozen times and it's never occurred to me."

The runner-up was Rebecca Coatsworth and the other two finalists were Corinne Broughton and Esther Longe, who all had friends and family supporting them and were given prizes too. 

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