Today, Mississippi College’s chapel service is lead by the winner of the Byrd Memorial Preaching Award, James Ritchey – a senior Christian Studies major with an emphasis in philosophy.
“I felt very honored to win this award. I was very happy and felt unworthy of the award,” said Ritchey.
Jeff Jordan, campus minister of Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) which Ritchey regularly attends said, “James loves God’s Word and he loves people. Anyone who has been around him knows his kind spirit and his endearing sense of humor.
“I’m proud of him for working hard on his sermon and winning this award. I think everyone will benefit richly from what he has to say.”
The Byrd Memorial Preaching Award was established by brothers Harrell N. Byrd, the late David Q. Byrd Jr., and James D. Byrd.
Ritchey and other qualifying students were required to prepare and submit a manuscript of an expository sermon to the Department of Christian Studies and Philosophy. LaJune White, the department secretary, assigned a number to each manuscript that was submitted and then forwarded the numbered but anonymous manuscripts to a committee stipulated in the original documents to be composed of: The Chair of the Department of Christian Studies and Philosophy – Burn Page, A senior Ministerial Student – Andrew (Drew) Williams, A member of the English Faculty – Daniel White, A member of the Communication Faculty – Tim Nichols, The (interim) pastor of the First Baptist Church of Clinton – Dr. Bill Hardin
On Feb. 26, a committee anonymously selected a winner. No committee member at any time during the process knew the names of those who submitted a sermon manuscript. The committee did not hear the candidates preach their sermon. The manuscripts were evaluated on their own merits. Once the winning manuscript was selected, then, with the help of Ms. White, the winner was notified.
Ritchey said, “I am ultimately hoping that students will see that Christ is better than and superior to all this world has to offer and that they will hear the good news that God has sent His Son to us.
“I am hoping that they see how God sent His Son to us as His revelation of Himself to us and that they will see God’s love in sending Christ as a substitutionary sacrifice on behalf of His people.”
Ritchey said that what he enjoys studying the most in the scriptures and in his Christian Studies classes is the redemptive story of the Bible.
“The Bible is really about God’s covenant and His keeping His covenant. And so I love to study how the Old Testament is leading up to the coming of Christ and how the New Testament shows that promise fulfilled.
“The Bible is all about Jesus, so I enjoy seeing Christ in all of Scripture. The Scripture I am using for my sermon is from the book of Hebrews. Hebrews is my favorite book of the Bible because it displays how the Old and New Testaments are connected and how both testaments are ultimately all about Christ. And it shows how, in the words of Sinclair Ferguson “Jesus is the greatest.”
– James Osborne, Contributing Writer