Let's celebrate the best writing of the past year, and the career work of Canada's Christian writers.
Two national associations focused on writing and publishing for Christians are once again getting ready to name the best writing of the past year. Some of the articles and authors you've seen in Faith Today are also in the running.
First up are The Word Awards, which this year are taking a big step of broadcasting their shortlist announcement ceremony. Anyone can watch live on May 1 (at 3 p.m. Eastern) to see and hear which authors, books and articles have made the shortlist. The actual winners will be announced at a gala in Hamilton, Ont., on June 14.
That's exciting news for such a small, national association. Definitely in the category of "small but mighty."
Faith Today has something of a shared history with The Word Guild and its annual award contest. In fact, decades ago these awards were actually run by Faith Today, but TWG has been an independent organization since 2001. May it live long and continue to prosper.
One of the most coveted awards each year is the $5,000 Grace Irwin Prize for overall best book. Another biggie is the Debra Fieguth Award for writing on social justice, named after a writer who died in 2016 after a career of award-winning work in Faith Today and elsewhere
There's also an award for an up-and-coming journalist, named after veteran writers Bob Harvey and Lloyd Mackey, and a career in publishing award named for Leslie K. Tarr, who served a stint as one of the first editors of Faith Today. We weren't kidding when we mentioned some shared history!
The Word Awards are given in more than 30 categories including many kinds of books (fiction and non-fiction), for song lyrics, blogs, work by young adults and more.
The other national association announcing awards this week is the Canadian Church Press, which is holding its annual convention in Winnipeg May 1-3. Its categories don't include books and music, but focus instead mainly on articles in magazines, newspapers and websites.
A number of Faith Today writers and articles are in the running for these awards -- there's no shortlist here, just a one-night awards banquet held this year at Canadian Mennonite University. We'll share the results on our social media as soon as we hear them.
But meanwhile there's another interesting Faith Today connection to explain here.
The CCP association is headed by a revolving slate of volunteers who hold positions for a couple years before passing them over to someone else. Faith Today senior editor Bill Fledderus is currently finishing up a term as president of the organization. Traditionally the vice president usually becomes the next president, so that makes it likely the next president will be John Longhurst of the Winnipeg Free Press and Religion News Service (he formerly worked at CMU, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and several other organizations).
But stay tuned because the organization is also scheduled to make some major decisions about its future at this year's convention.
With all this talk about Winnipeg and awards, we'd be remiss not to mention that Faith Today senior editor Karen Stiller was just there a week ago to receive an honorary doctorate degree from Providence University College and Theological Seminary. Karen's writing and editorial work have taken her to South Sudan, Uganda, Senegal, Cambodia, and across North America.
As the graduation speaker, her words charged the graduates to seek honesty and transparency, and to recognize that our failures and brokenness help to tell God’s story. “Do not hide or cover up,” she encouraged. “We worry that our brokenness and our failures may not reflect well on God’s story, but in fact, they help tell God’s story. They are God’s story… This truth does not hurt, it heals.”
So maybe say a prayer for the Christian writers and aspiring writers across Canada this week. Some are publicly celebrated, others work away in obscurity, but they're a group needed by the Church.
As with any profession there is always the need to encourage and train up the next generation. Pray that God continues to equip and guide.