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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., (June 9, 2003) — The Acton Institute announced the recipients of the 2003 Homiletics Award, an annual competition for seminarians and graduate students preparing for a career in preaching and teaching ministries.

This year’s homiletics competition included 57 entrants from more than 40 different colleges, seminaries, and universities. Contestants were asked to prepare and preach a sermon targeted toward a group of corporate executives at a weekend retreat. This year, participants preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:15-22. The biblical passage contains Christ’s famous exhortation to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

In all, five recipients were selected:

  • First place: Thomas Hughes, Master of Divinity student at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif. $2,000.
  • Second place: Derek Woodard-Lehman, Master of Divinity student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pa. $1,000.
  • Third place: Dave Ward, Masters of Divinity student at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Ky. $500.
  • Honorable mentions: Matthew Keiser, O.Praem., a Master of Sacred Theology student at St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary, Orange, Calif.; LaMont Jones, Jr., a Master of Divinity student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

This year’s panel of Homiletics Award judges included Rev. Robert Sirico, co-founder and president of the Acton Institute; Dr. Harold O.J. Brown, Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, N.C.; Rev. Duane Kelderman, vice-president of Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Rev. Lawrence Smith, Associate Pastor, Jesus Christ Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Clinton, Iowa; and Rev. William Fitzgerald, O. Praem., Director of Liturgy and Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology, Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio.

The annual Homiletics Award is one of the Acton Institute’s many programs designed to assist future religious leaders in developing an understanding of the relationship between morality and the marketplace and becoming articulate proponents of a free and virtuous society.

About the Acton Institute

With its commitment to pursue a society that is free and virtuous, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a leading voice in the national environmental and social policy debate. The Acton Institute is uniquely positioned to comment on the sound economic and moral foundations necessary to sustain humane environmental and social policies.

The Acton Institute is a nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Institute works internationally to "promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles."

Interviews with Institute staff may be arranged by contacting John Couretas at (616) 454-3080 or at