Writers from across Canada gather for 26th annual awards gala

the word guild logo

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario– “I’m not normally speechless,” said author Carolyn Weber, as she accepted The Grace Irwin Prize for her memoir, Surprised by Oxford.

Writers, editors and guests gathered in anticipation for the 2014, 26th annual Word Awards formal gala to hear the winners recognized for their achievements. Honoured Christian writers received awards in various genres and categories including; articles, columns, short stories, poetry and more. Judge Bonnie Beldan-Thomsen said of the entries, “What a privilege to read the work of these skilled writers. What a challenge to discern shades of excellence in writing.” Bonnie wasn’t the only judge who took that point of view. Grace Irwin Prize judge Ray Wiseman said, “Once again the leaders of the Word Guild asked me to do the impossible….”

The Word Awards narrowed their entries to a shortlist of about 100 finalists. Previous Word Award winner Sandra Orchard, author of suspense novel Deadly Devotion, accepted her award and like many, thanked her editor and family for their support – even thanking her husband for his encouragement, “He believes in me so much, he doesn’t even get worried when I’m cooking dinner while reading a book on poison.”

Steve Kennedy, editor of testimony magazine, won for his single column, “Let Nothing Be Wasted.” Also among the recipients were long-time Word Guild supporter June Stevenson who took home the literary prize for her poem, “Silhouette on the Snow” and her song lyrics, “A Quiet Place.” “The Word Guild has grown so wonderfully and done so much for writers, it’s such a joy to be part of it.”

The final award of the evening was the prestigious Leslie K. Tarr Career Achievement Award. Lifetime writer Katie Funk Wiebe responded to her award with a humble letter of acceptance. “Writing has been part of my life for decades …thank you for your support and recognition of my work and life …I want to die climbing.” 

It was a night that honoured lifetime achievement, new success, and also paid tribute to the life of Dennis Rumble, who died suddenly this spring. Denise Rumble, executive director of The Word Guild, sent her regards as she bowed out of hosting this year’s awards to be with her family. “While we experienced shock and sadness, Dennis was held by his Heavenly Father. He met his Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face. And by now, he’s probably had a dance or two around the heavenly throne.”

Carolyn Weber summed up the sentiment of those who had gathered at the awards, “This is an incredible honour and really such a grace to be in this room with so many people who love our Lord and who treat words as holy things.”

The celebration will continue as writers joined by many award winners travel to Guelph, Ontario, to celebrate the Word Guild’s annual Christian Writer’s conference June 12th – 14th. There’s still room to join the festivities. With speakers Ted Dekker and Mark Buchanan on the roster, The Word Guild worked hard to make Write Canada’s 30th anniversary conference the best one ever.

The Word Guild is a national association of writers and editors who are Christian.   

Media: for more information or photos, contact Mary Ann Benjamins at awards@thewordguild.com 




The Grace Irwin Prize

Sponsor: John and Eleanor Irwin

The Grace Irwin Prize, Canada’s largest literary prize for Christian writers, celebrates the best book published in 2013.

Winner: Carolyn Weber of London, Ont. for Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir (Thomas Nelson)

Honourable Mention:

Donald N. Bastian of Brampton, Ont. for The Pastor’s First Love (BPS Books)

Ken Shigematsu of Vancouver for God in My Everything (Zondervan)

Carolyn Weber of London, Ont. for Holy Is the Day (InterVarsity Press)


The Word Guild Awards

Winners in The Word Guild’s 2014 Word Awards





Book – Academic

James K. A. Smith of Grand Rapids, Mich. for Imagining the Kingdom (Baker Academic)

Book – Apologetics/Evangelism

Myron Bradley Penner of Edmonton for The End of Apologetics (Baker Academic)

Book – Biblical Studies

Stanley E. Porter of Hamilton, Ont. for How We Got the New Testament (Baker Academic)

Book – Children

Tim Huff of Toronto for It’s Hard Not To Stare (Castle Quay)

Book – Christian Living

Ken Shigematsu of Vancouver for God in My Everything (Zondervan)

Book – Culture

Kevin Schut of Abbotsford, B.C. for Of Games and God (Brazos Press)

Book – Inspirational/Devotional

James R. Payton, Jr. of Mount Hope, Ont. for A Patristic Treasury (Ancient Faith Publishing)

Book – Instructional

Donald N. Bastian of Brampton, Ont. for The Pastor’s First Love (BPS Books)

Book – Life Stories

Carolyn Weber of London, Ont. for Surprised by Oxford (Thomas Nelson)

Book – Special

M. D. Meyer of Norway House, Man. for Northern Writers Volume 4 (Goldrock Press)



Novel – Contemporary

Patricia Westerhof of Toronto for The Dove in Bathurst Station (Brindle & Glass)

Novel – Historical

Christine Lindsay of Chilliwack, B.C. for Captured by Moonlight (WhiteFire Publishing)

Novel – Romance

Valerie Comer of Creston, B.C. for Raspberries and Vinegar (Choose NOW Publishing)

Novel – Suspense

Sandra Orchard of Fenwick, Ont. for Deadly Devotion (Revell)

Novel – Visionary

Bill Stewart of Riverview, N.B. for Journey Into Wisdom (Word Alive Press)

Novel – Young Adult

Holly C. Wyse of Lethbridge, Alta. for The Restoration of Emma Carmichael (Word Alive Press)




Article – News

Jeff Dewsbury of Langley, B.C. for “Christian Law School Proposal Raises Discussion”(Faith Today)

Article – Inspirational/Devotional

Heidi Grogan of Calgary for “Cry of the Streets” (Weavings) 

Article – Long Feature

Peter Schuurman of Guelph, Ont. for “Fractured Flocks: A Leadership Crisis in the CRC?” (Christian Courier)

Article – Personal Experience

Shelaine Strom of Abbotsford, B.C. for “Waiting: A Passionate Pause” (Truth Media)

Article – Profile/Human Interest

Lisa Hall-Wilson of London, Ont. for “Capturing Beauty” (testimony)    

Article – Review

Kurt Armstrong of Winnipeg for “My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer by Christian Wiman Farrar” (Geez magazine)

Article – Short Feature

Glenda Dekkema-de Vries of Stouffville, Ont. for “Putting the Gold Back Into the Golden Years” (Senior Care Canada)

Column – Series

Carolyn Arends of Surrey, B.C. for “The Trouble with Cussing Christians” and “You Probably Won’t Be Sent to Egypt” (Christianity Today)

Column – Single

Stephen Kennedy of Peterborough, Ont. for “Let Nothing Be Wasted” (testimony)



Article – Short Story

Marcia Lee Laycock of Blackfalds, Alta. “An Unexpected Glory” (Helping Hands Press) 


June Stevenson of Ajax, Ont. for “Silhouette on the Snow” (Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme)

Terence L. Bingley Award for Best Song Lyrics

June Stevenson of Ajax, Ont. “A Quiet Place” (June Stevenson)


Novice Writers Contest

Ages 14-25

First prize: Free registration to Write Canada

Amelia Bowes of Merrickville, Ont. – “Trauma Sessions”

Ages 25 and up

First prize: Free registration to Write Canada

Shamin Brown of Winnipeg – “Disclosure”

Second prize: $100 gift certificate

Tiffany Lewis of Tillsonburg, Ont. – “Journey into Newness”



The Word Awards are sponsored by The Word Guild, a national association with the mandate of encouraging, equipping, and empowering Canadian Christian writers and editors. Formerly known as The God Uses Ink Awards, these writing prizes have been awarded annually since 1988. The Word Guild assumed responsibility for the awards in 2002, revamping and expanding the program from its original eight categories.

The contest is open to all eligible writers who have Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status, and is not restricted to members of The Word Guild. All entrants are asked to affirm The Apostles’ Creed as a condition of acceptance. The opinions and viewpoints expressed in the shortlisted and winning works represent the writers’ personal beliefs and are not necessarily endorsed by The Word Guild.

During the judging process the judges looked for underlying evidence that the writer’s Christian worldview informed and influenced the writing. Entries were judged according to excellence of writing; impact (the inspirational or informational value); suitability to target audience; originality and freshness of style.

The Word Guild sponsors awards programs for published and unpublished writers, including the $5,000 Grace Irwin Prize and Fresh Ink Contest. As well as events like Write Canada, our annual national writing conference, and regional writing events, including Write Vancouver, and Write Kitchener.

Businesses, organizations or individuals who would like to provide concrete support and encouragement to Canadian Christian writers are welcome to inquire about the benefits of awards sponsorships. Charitable tax receipts are available. Sponsorship opportunities may be seen at www.thewordguild.com/be-a-sponsor.

For photos or more information, 

Contact:    Judy Bingley, Administrative Assistant

Website:   www.thewordguild.com 

Email:       info@thewordguild.com