Echols Preaching Celebration this Thursday

April 14, 2020

Three students at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago will preach during the seminary’s 2020 Echols Preaching Prize Celebration this Thursday, April 16, at 11:15 a.m. Unable to gather in person in Augustana Chapel because of Covid-19, the community will celebrate the preaching gift of students and hear these sermons via Zoom.

Those who will preach are Master of Divinity students Elle Dowd, Melissa Hrdlicka and Care Lawrence.

The theme this year is “water” and each finalist has engaged this theme in theologically rich and exciting ways, according to organizers.

  • Dowd is a senior currently doing her internship at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square in Chicago. “I used the lens of the idea of Lent as “Water in the Wilderness” to contrast the desert with the waters of baptism,” she said. “It was also deeply informed by my experiences as a community organizer and St Luke’s (the original audience) history of public engagement and public witness through organizing.” 
  • Hrdlicka is a second year student from De Pere, Wis. She will use her love of superheroes in her sermon. “I will talk how, as leaders in the world, our desire to be superheroes sometimes means weeping at a tomb like Jesus did,” she said. “Even those tears can be a baptismal promise of the leaders and superheroes we’re called to be.”
  • Lawrence, from Crystal Falls, Mich., is an academic senior looking toward an internship this summer. Without the Echols prize in mind, she spent a week in January to prayerfully read through the Gospel of Matthew in preparation for this lectionary year. “When I read through Matthew 14:22-33, I felt a flash of inspiration and knew this was the text. This passage had been a source of comfort my first year at LSTC. As I reread it in my final year, the evocative imagery called to me just as Jesus called to Peter. I hope those listening Thursday are as inspired by Peter’s courage as I am.”

The preaching prize began in the 2007-08 academic year, named for then-president James Kenneth Echols. It has been announced each year at commencement, accompanied by a $500 award. In recent years, the prize has gone to more than one recipient. Because of the pandemic, in-person commencement has been canceled.

The prize was established and funded by LeRoy T. Carlson, a longtime supporter of the seminary, with a goal of: promoting quality and excellence in preaching, inspiring student to fully use their varied gifts to improve their preaching skills, increasing the visibility and importance of preaching the Gospel on campus and beyond, and recognizing the contributions of Echols.  


Patti DeBias Assistant to the President 773.256.0728 pdebias@lstc.edu

Julie B. Sevig Communications Specialist – Advancement julie.sevig@lstc.edu

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