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The Seerveld Prize for New Writers

Submissions to the Seerveld Prize are now closed.

In fact, we’ve announced the winners:

Do you have what we're looking for?

If you have a passion for writing—whether young or old—but haven’t yet been published in Comment, here’s your chance. The Seerveld Prize provides the occasion for your work to be recognized and published. ​But more than this,​ we’re looking for writers​ ​in​ search of an institutional home where they can hone their craft and invest themselves in the future.

We are particularly keen to find those with a firm grounding in Christian social thought who believe that the institutions of our public life —be they social, educational, religious, political—matter.

Intrigued? Then we have an essay contest for you.


The Seerveld Prize for New Writers, named after Calvin Seerveld, hopes to encapsulate the spirit of his foundational contributions to Comment’s vision and his distinctive and evocative writing voice.


Deadlines and Amount:

  • The prize space was open to submissions starting at 12:00 pm, June 15, 2018 and closed 12:00 am, PST, September 1, 2018.
  • The first place prize winner will be awarded $1500 CAD.
  • The runner-up will be awarded $1000 CAD.
  • Winning articles will be published on our website and be given consideration for publication in the Winter 2018 print issue.

Essay Prompts

Contestants are asked to submit essays that engage one of the following themes:

  1. While Comment focuses on “public theology” and investment in public life, we believe such work is centered in our formation in the church. But the church is not a popular institution these days. Are there good reasons to become part of this beleaguered institution? Why would anyone choose church? What are the hurdles? What gifts might we find there? Why might the world still need the church? Essays for this prompt could be a response to Marilyn McEntyre’s essay, “Choosing Church,” from our Fall 2017 issue.
  2. The “New Minimalism” movement pushes us toward a pursuit of less. Whether we’re moved toward a very particular kind of “clean” aesthetic so highly sought after by the Instagram community, or finding ways to de-clutter our homes in some bid for physical, and thus, spiritual cleanliness, we want to own less in order to feel more. However, at its core, this movement still holds things—whether in their presence or their absence—at the forefront of this pursuit. Does this render the anti-consumerist movement disingenuous? If the purpose of having less is to be more intentional with our way of living—whether at home or at work—how might the pursuit of this minimalist lifestyle fall short for Christians seeking coherence in an increasingly materialistic world?
  3. Our work at Comment is animated by our “Manifesto.” There you’ll see that we believe in institutions as the skeleton of “social architecture.” But increasingly it looks like key institutions are failing us. Are we missing something? Should our investment in institutions be tempered? Or is there still good reason to be invested in institutions? Is the news of their demise a tad premature? We’re interested in essays that consider the existential crisis of institutional life, the skepticism of younger generations, but also untold stories of the enduring gifts of institutions to the common good.

Meet our panel of judges who will be reading your work

Sarah Hamersma

Associate professor at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University with a Ph.D. in economics from  the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

James K.A. Smith

Editor-in-chief of Comment and teaches philosophy at Calvin College. His most recent books include You Are What You Love and Awaiting the King.

Brian Dijkema

Program Director, Work and Economics at Cardus and senior editor with Comment.

Marilyn McEntyre

Writer and professor of medical humanities at UC Davis and the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. Her most recent books include Make a List and Adverbs for Advent.

To read the rules and regulations of the contest and submit your essay, please click here.