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TORONTO, Ontario — (CANADIAN CHRISTIAN NEWS SERVICE) — An elder statesman for Canada’s Christian community has been formally recognized for his lifetime achievements by Canada’s premier fellowship of Christian writers.

Brian C. Stiller, who has impacted Canadian evangelicals and culture for more than three decades, was awarded the Leslie K. Tarr Award by The Word Guild during the guild’s annual awards ceremony June 23.

Stiller’s recognition was among the highlights of the evening to honour the work of Canadians who write with a Christian worldview.

Journalists, novelists, poets, theologians, academics and song-writers, along with their guests – about 150 in total – gathered for the annual The Word Awards gala in Mississauga.

Stiller was among more than two dozen award winners honoured during the black-tie event. The 75-year-old was recognized for his voice heard both across the nation and around the globe.

In a video message from his Newmarket home, Stiller told the assembly that he was honoured to receive the significant honour named after Les Tarr, the journalism colleague who helped Stiller launch Faith Today Magazine in 1984.

“Les Tarr symbolized the kind of journalism — with courage and faith and honesty and openness — that would characterize, we hoped, Christian journalism in this land.” Stiller recalled Tarr as “creative, bold and deeply spiritual” and encouraged the assembled writers to be the same.

“So today as you work through your ideas and your gifting, may you continue to know the anointing of the Spirit, the celebration of those around you who read your material, who hear your poetry, who hear your songs, and who through this are matured in their faith and made bold in their witness,” said Stiller.

Stiller’s voice for Canada’s evangelicals became respected through a dozen books plus weekly television. After more than a decade as president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, in 1997, he was named president of Tyndale University College & Seminary.

Stiller grew Tyndale to become Canada’s largest Christian University College, before, in 2011 he began as Global Ambassador with the World Evangelical Alliance.

The elder statesman’s comments reflected the theme of heritage that underscored much of the awards ceremony. Thomas Froese, chairman of The Word Guild’s board of directors, noted that while Canada’s heritage is now being celebrated for the nation’s 150th birthday, The Word Guild also has a heritage.

“Your impact on Canadian culture should never be underestimated,” Froese told gala finalists in his opening remarks. “It’s not just a co-incidence that you are called here to this time and this place, Canada, in 2017,” he said before he read greetings sent from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Other major award winners were James K.A. Smith, who won the $5,000 Grace Irwin Prize for his book You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit.

Smith is a Canadian philosopher who is currently Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, holding the Gary & Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology & Worldview. His interests are in bringing critical thought to the practices of the church and its witness to culture.

“It’s such an honour for my work to be associated with Grace Irwin and her legacy,” Smith told the crowd via a video from his Michigan home. “I’m so grateful to The Word Guild for championing Christian letters and for its commitment to the word, and to the Word became flesh, for supporting the importance of writing and thinking and the value of Christian publishing.”

While receiving the first-ever Debra Fieguth Social Justice Writing Award, Patricia Paddey told the crowd that “It can take a village to publish a book.” Along with Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese, Paddey won for co-writing The Game Changers: True Stories about Saving Mothers and Babies in East Africa.

Chamberlain Froese, an obstetrician from Hamilton, ON, is an Order of Canada recipient for her ground-breaking work in East Africa with Save the Mothers, the organization she founded to save mothers and children from preventable death in childbirth.

For his Toronto Star column on the suicide of his long-time friend, Michael Coren won in the mainstream newspaper column writing category for “Rest In Peace My Sweet Boy.”

Scott Radley, a veteran newspaper columnist and host of The Scott Radley Show on Radio 900CHML, was Master of Ceremonies for the gala which was held at Roma’s Hospitality Centre in Mississauga.

Following is the complete list of award winners:

Sponsor: John and Eleanor Irwin
The Grace Irwin Prize, Canada’s largest literary prize for Christian writers, celebrates the best book published in 2016.
Winner: James K. A. Smith of Grand Rapids, Michigan for You Are What You Love (Brazos Press)
Honourable Mention: Hans Boersma of Vancouver, B.C. for Sacramental Preaching (Baker Academic)
Stanley Porter of Hamilton, Ont. for The Apostle Paul (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing)

Leslie K. Tarr Award: Brian C. Stiller

Harvey/Mackey Award (celebrates the best of Canada’s up and coming Christian journalists): Derek Schuurman of Hamilton, Ont. for “Transhumanism and the Incarnation” (Christian Courier)

The Debra Fieguth Social Justice Writing Award: Patricia Paddey of Mississauga, Ont. and Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese of Ancaster, Ont. for The Game Changers: True Stories About Saving Mothers and Babies in East Africa (Save the Mothers)

Best New Canadian Manuscript: Ron Mahler of Minden, Ont. for The Banquet: Exploring the Greatest Invitation Extended to Humanity


Book – Academic
Hans Boersma of Vancouver, B.C. for Sacramental Preaching (Baker Academic)

Book – Biblical Studies
Stanley Porter of Hamilton, Ont. for The Apostle Paul (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing)

Book – Christian Living
James K. A. Smith of Grand Rapids, Mich. for You Are What You Love (Brazos Press)

Book – Children
Glynis Belec of Drayton, Ont. for Jesus Loves Me When I Dance (Angel Hope Publishing)

Book – Culture
Patricia Paddey of Mississauga, Ont. and Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese of Ancaster, Ont. for The Game Changers: True Stories About Saving Mothers and Babies in East Africa (Save the Mothers)

Book – Inspirational/Devotional
Brian Stiller of Newmarket, Ont. for An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World (Bethany Publishers)

Book – Life Stories
Christine Lindsay of Hope, B.C. for Finding Sarah Finding Me (WhiteFire Publishing)

Novel – Children
Donna Simard of Newmarket, Ont. for Shhh! It’s a Surprise! A Sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s Farm (Word Alive Press)

Novel – Contemporary
Ruth Waring of Lindsay, Ont. for Harvest of Lies (Word Alive Press)

Novel – Historical
Terrie Todd of Portage la Prairie, Man. for The Silver Suitcase (Waterfall Press)

Novel – Romance
Stacey Weeks of Brantford, Ont. for The Builder’s Reluctant Bride (White Rose Publishing)

Novel – Suspense
Sara Davison of Guelph, Ont. for The Dragon Roars (Ashberry Lane)

Vie Chrétienne (Christian Living)
Isabelle Cardinal of Saint-Eustache, Que. for Un petit livre, une grande destinée (Biographie du pasteur Samuel Lecompte) (Ministère Multilingue International)


Article – Blog
Dustin Schellenberg of Winnipeg for “Team Cap: Stand Firm” (

Article – Inspirational/Devotional
Sherry Stahl of Leamington, Ont. for “The Women Of The Christmas Story – The Teenager” (

Article – Long Feature
Lindsay Mason of Toronto, Ont. for “The Gravity of Desire in Marilynne Robinson’s “Housekeeping”” (CRUX)

Article – Personal Experience
Tonia Pankova of Saskatoon for “A Tangled, Beautiful Mess – Living out God’s love for the orphan” (testimony)

Steve Bell of Winnipeg, Man. for “Freedom Road” (Intotemak)

Article – Profile/Human Interest
Jenny Svetec of Port Perry, Ont. for “The Right Formulae – A young woman’s passion for God, science and marginalized youth” (testimony)

Article – Short Feature
Allison Barron of Winnipeg, Man. for “Trinity Western University’s Battle for Religious Freedom Heats Up” (Faith Today)

Short Story
Marcia Lee Laycock of Blackfalds, Alta. for “An Earthly Treasure” (Small Pond Press)

Column – Series
Rudy Eikelboom of Waterloo, Ont. for “Artificial Intelligence II” and “Artificial Intelligence III” (Christian Courier)

Column – Single
Steve Kennedy of Peterborough, Ont. for “A Sobering Conclusion” (testimony)

Marika Siewart of Vancouver for “Heal Our Land” (self)


Book – Culture
Deborah Williams of Toronto, Ont. for The Grace Factor (Castle Quay)

Book – Life Stories
Bobbi Junior of Edmonton, Alta for When the Bough Breaks (self)

Novel – Suspense
Lisa Hall-Wilson of London, Ont. for The Watched (self)

Novel – Young Adult
Kevin Miller of Kimberley, B.C. for Up the Creek! (Millstone Press)


Article – Long Feature
Naomi Peters of Richmond Hill, Ont. for “Not just a statistic” (Goldrock Press)

Article – Personal Experience
David Kennedy of Peterborough, Ont. for “Some of Jim’s Finest Moments” (testimony)

Short Story
J.A. Menzies of Markham, Ont. for “Power Play’ (Toronto Sisters in Crime)

Column – Single
Michael Coren of Toronto, Ont. for “Rest In Peace My Sweet Boy” (Toronto Star)


Grand Prize Winner:
Leah Marizan of Port Dover, Ont. for Nobody brings you a casserole when your husband goes to rehab (First 3 chapters – Non-fiction)

Poem Runner Up:
David Busuttil of Hornby, Ont. for “Naomi’s Lament”

First Three Chapters Runner Up:
Tara Ross of Milton, Ont. for Not of This World (Fiction)

Non-fiction Short Piece Runner Up:
Tina Weidelich of Richmond Hill, Ont. for “What I have in common with the Grinch”

Short Story Runner Up:
Patricia Carriere of North Bay, Ont. for “The Long Road Home”

Short Script Runner Up:
Leah Marizan of Port Dover, Ont. for “A Fist Full of Weeds”


University Category
Grand Prize Winner:
Samantha Togeretz of Gatineau, Que. for “Family” (poem)

High School Category
Grand Prize Winner:
Joshua Koens of Brantford, Ont. for “The Museum Thief” (short story)


The Word Guild is an association of Canadian writers, editors, speakers, publishers, booksellers, librarians, and other Christian individuals who are invested in or employed in media. From all parts of Canada and many denominational and cultural backgrounds, they are united in their common passion to positively influence individuals, and ultimately Canadian culture, through life-changing words that bring God’s message of hope.

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Karen deBlieck