Bishop John Harvey Taylor delivers his annual address at Diocesan Convention on Nov. 10, 2023.

[The Episcopal News] Bishop John Harvey Taylor of the Diocese of Los Angeles will travel to London in December for presentation of the Michael Ramsey Prize for contemporary theological writing.

Taylor, one of a panel of six judges who will determine the prize winner, will be accompanied to England by his spouse, Canon Kathy O’Connor.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recently announced that the three finalists for the £15,000 (about $19,000 U.S.) prize are:

  • The Love That Is God: An Invitation to Christian Faith by Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt
  • God is Not a White Man: And Other Revelations by Chine McDonald
  • Where is God in all the suffering? by Amy Orr-Ewing.

The nominees are described on the Ramsey Prize website as “books that explore timeless questions of love, identity and suffering.”

Each of the runners-up will receive a £5,000 prize (about $6,300 in U.S. dollars).

According to the website, “The three shortlisted titles are books which present complex and interesting theology in an accessible way, making a branch of theology a popular and approachable topic.”

Joining Taylor as judges are:

  • The Rt. Rev. Rosemarie Mallet, bishop of Croydon, England
  • The Rev. Cathrine Ngangira, priest-in-charge of Boughton under Blean with Dunkirk, Graveney with Goodnestone and Hernhill in the Diocese of Canterbury
  • The Very Rev. Mark Oakley, dean of St John’s College, Cambridge, canon theologian of Wakefield Cathedral, and a previous winner of the Ramsey Prize
  • Radzi Chinyanganya, a television presenter on the BBC and other media outlets
  • Canon Paula Gooder, a speaker and writer on the Bible, particularly on the New Testament, and chancellor of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The winner of the prize will be announced by Welby at Lambeth Palace Library on Thursday, Dec. 14.

“Afflicting the denominational church in the U.S. are the steady secularization of society and, when they do write about religion, the media’s relentless focus is on the most conservative Christian expressions – and understandably, since they wield so much political influence,” Taylor says, as quoted on the Ramsey Prize website. “Yet while religious institutions get a bad name, most people are still hungry for reassurance that their lives have purpose and the universe a benevolent heart, in one form or another. The highly approachable texts the Michael Ramsey Prize process favors are just what our thoughtful seekers need. It will be a privilege to play a role in this important project.

“I hope we’ll look for books that address the issues priests, pastors, and lay leaders always raise — the nature and work of God, the persistence of suffering and injustice, the frontier between the observable world and the realm of faith, and the purpose of a well-lived life.”

The Michael Ramsey Prize was inaugurated in 2005 by then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams “in recognition of the central role that theological writing plays in the discipleship and flourishing of God’s church.”

It was relaunched in 2023 in partnership with the McDonald Agape Foundation. Its goal is to recognize and promote work that will “help the church grow in prayer, witness, and the ministry of reconciliation in which all God’s people are called to share.”

The prize is named after the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey (in office 1961-1974), a prolific writer. One of his best known works is The Christian Priest Today, written in 1972 and still in print. Ramsey often spoke out on contemporary issues such as apartheid, the death penalty and immigration.

Past winners include Mark Oakley, John Swinton, Luke Bretherton, David Bentley Hart, Richard Bauckham, Timothy Radcliffe and N.T. Wright.

The prize previously was administered by SPCK (Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge) in partnership with the Lambeth Trust.