Sermon of the Year 2021 Winner Announced

Preach magazine is delighted to announce Catharine Hughes, local preacher and minister-in-training from Poynton in Cheshire, as the winner of Sermon of the Year 2021.

Following the grand final on Thursday 24 June, which was broadcast online, Catharine’s sermon on the theme of Cross the Divide was declared the winner by the judging panel. The announcement was made by head judge Antony Billington.

The video of the final can be viewed here.

The trophy was presented by Chris Wright, Global Ambassador and Ministry Director of Langham Partnership, sponsor of Sermon of the Year 2021.

Head judge Antony Billington is Senior Pastor at the Beacon Church, and Theology Advisor at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC). He commented,

We found particularly helpful and effective Catharine’s interweaving of reflections, personal as well as biblical, with the re-telling of the story of the woman healed by Jesus. Along with her earthier asides, we thought that Catharine’s drawing on that story allowed her to address clearly this year’s theme of Cross the Divide.

On being told of her win, Catharine said,

I am very surprised to receive this trophy! Preaching has been something that I’ve been doing for a number of years, but it is always such a privilege to be able to share God’s word. I’m very grateful to the judges for choosing me, that’s unbelievable, and I just want to thank everybody who has helped me on the journey that I’ve had so far.

The event is supported by sponsor Langham Partnership, associate sponsor The Methodist Church and supporter SPCK.

Chris Wright of Langham Partnership commented, ‘Catharine brought us powerfully to the cross, to the heart of the gospel and to the way God himself has turned towards us and crossed that divide and brought us to himself through Jesus Christ. Catharine’s message, in my opinion, had all three things that we at Langham Partnership seek to insist on when we are training people in biblical preaching, and that is: faithfulness, clarity and relevance.’

Ian Buchanan, Chief Executive of LWPT (the charity that produces Preach and Sermon of the Year), added,

We’re delighted that Sermon of the Year was able to go ahead in 2021 and we’d like to thank everyone who entered their sermons, the judges and the sponsors for making this happen. We run the event to encourage people to take preaching to heart and to further develop skills in communicating the word of God.

Winner’s biography: Catharine Hughes

Catharine grew up in Yorkshire and became a Christian during a Rob Frost mission. 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 presbyteral ministry. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the cello, watching cricket and winning at board games, but not all at once.

Catharine attends Mobberley Methodist Church, her ‘link’ church while she is in ministerial training. Her ‘home’ church remains Poynton Methodist Church.

Why did you enter Sermon of the Year?

Preaching has been a core part of my ministry for many years. I have considered entering Sermon of the Year in the past, viewing it as a personal challenge: this year both time to write and spiritual inspiration coincided. I was particularly gripped by the theme of Cross the Divide, to think about what divides us from God and how the cross has mended that rift between us. I am keen to make Bible stories zing with relevance for people today.

Written by: Lucy Lewis

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