Eight students competed on April 26, 2018, in Hartford Seminary’s first Preaching Competition, organized by Interim Academic Dean Scott Thumma.
While all were declared winners for their moving sermons, International Peacemaking Fellow Allyson Zacharoff took home the grand prize of $500.
Allyson referenced the Book of Ruth and spoke about building community as a reciprocal action—both choosing to belong and then being chosen in return, as Ruth and Naomi do in the Torah story. Allyson, who was adopted and raised Jewish in an interfaith family, said she has had the privilege to choose a diversity of meaningful communities throughout her life. Every time, it has come back to a critical reciprocal action of community and love: “I choose you; you choose me.”
Other contestants spoke about grief, identity, accessibility and acceptance for the disabled, time, and other weighty topics. They were: Guimond Pierre Louis, Jayleigh Lewis, Jeremy Schulz, Candace Low, Amy Langston, Omar Bayramoglu and Allen Joseph.
Judges for the competition were Dr. Deena Grant, Dr. Benjamin Watts, Aida Mansoor and Michael Piazza.