2021 Peace Essay Contest Winners

Bethany Theological Seminary has selected the winners in its 2021 Peace Essay Contest. Funded by the Jennie Calhoun Baker Endowment, the contest is open to students in graduate school, college, or high school. Cash prizes are awarded to the top three entries. This year’s contest solicited entries on the theme, “Civil Resistance and Nonviolent Social Change in an Increasingly Virtual World.”

Matthew Wiley, of Chicago, earned the $2000 first prize for his essay “Spirit, Flesh, and the Algorithm.” Wiley is a PhD student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he is researching ecclesial division and unity. He also works as an editor at the Henry Center for Theological Understanding. He and his wife belong to Boulevard Presbyterian Church, where they lead the youth ministry.

The $1000 second prize was awarded to Izaza Izeowayi, a 24-year-old Nigerian writer and poet, for his essay, “Knowledge, Action, and Hashtags: The Effective Means to be Involved in Nonviolent Social Change in an Increasingly Violent and Virtual World.” Izeowayi is currently completing an undergraduate degree program in marketing at the University of Port Harcourt. He lives and writes in the City of Port Harcourt.

Carol Davis, of Canton, Ill. was awarded the $500 third prize for her essay, “The Stories Will Rise.” Davis earned a Master of Arts in Theopoetics and Writing from Bethany as well as master’s degrees from Illinois State University and the University of Missouri. She recently retired as a vice president of Spoon River College where she continues serve as an adjunct instructor and artistic director of a community performing arts troupe. She has a background as a playwright and journalist.

“We were very pleased with the three winning essays, and we offer congratulations to these writers,” says Scott Holland, Slabaugh professor of theology and culture, who directs Bethany’s Peace Studies program. He organized the competition with assistance from a student, Susu Lassa. “We are grateful to all the writers who took time during a very challenging year to write about this important topic.