Theology of Joy & the Good Life Sermon Series Competition Winners

October 23, 2017

The Yale Center for Faith & Culture is pleased to announce the winners of our Theology of Joy and the Good Life Sermon Series Competition.

First Prize Winner:

Rev. Dewey Williams

Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church, Durham, North Carolina and Central Prison, Raleigh, North Carolina

Sermon Series Title: “Joy On Death Row: A milieu for empowerment to a group marginalized in society”

Dewey Williams is the Executive Director of Mt. Level Community Haven providing outreach to Durham neighbors.  He also serves Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church giving leadership of the Prison Ministry, and the Marriage Ministry. He is an ordained Baptist Minister and pastored in Denver, Colorado for ten years.

Dewey is a graduate of Duke University Divinity School with a Master of Divinity, and a graduate of Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work.  He worked in social work and mental health services for over twenty years.  Dewey currently serves with two groups providing ministry in Central Prison while in addition preaching on a regular basis to men on Death Row and to men in General Population.  Dewey is President of the Board of Jubilee Home, a non-profit organization providing services to men who have been released from prison.

Watch a sermon from Rev. Williams’ series.

Read more about Williams’ sermon series in the YDS news piece, “Preaching about joy on death row.”

Runners Up:

Rev. Nikita McCalister

Bethany Free Baptist Church, Providence, Rhode Island

Sermon Series Title: “This Joy that I have”

Rev. Nikita G. McCalister is an ordained minister of the Gospel.  She is the Senior Pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church in (Pawtucket, RI) and the Associate Executive Minister for the American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island. She received her B.S. (Central Michigan University), MBA (University of Detroit Mercy), and Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology. She is married to Rev. Jabulani McCalister, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church (Providence, RI.).  She is the proud parent of two wonderful children: Jaden McCalister and Azriel McCalister.


Rev. Dr. David Milam

St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, Purcellville, Virginia

Sermon Series Title: “The Way Marked by Joy”

Rev. Dr. David Milam has been the Pastor of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Purcellville, Virginia since 2005, having been ordained in 1985. He has a D. Min. from San Francisco Theological Seminary, earning the dissertation prize in 1999 for his work called “Neighbor Language.” He also has earned degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, Wheaton College, and San Diego State University. He is married to Bonnie.  They have three children and six grandchildren, who live too far away. 

Hiking the Camino de Santiago marked one of David’s great recent joys. He walked the millennium old pilgrimage route 500 miles across northern Spain with his daughter, Karen, three years ago.

He found his sermon series called “The Way Marked by Joy,” to be a timely and challenging effort, especially in our challenging national climate, in which division and intimidation have pushed pastors and church to plumb the depths of our faith as a counter to the climate of broken trust. Looking to the joy that permeated the early church, he found in the Book of Acts, encouraging stories of resilient joy rising from their spiritual fellowship and energized mission.


Rev. Dr. Ian Rottenberg

Garden City Community Church, Garden City, New York

Sermon Series Title: “En (joy) ment: A Sermon Series on Living Well”

Rev. Dr. Ian Rottenberg is Teaching Pastor at Garden City Community Church on Long Island, New York. Ian graduated from Yale Divinity School prior to completing his Ph.D. in philosophy at Fordham University. His pastoral work in Garden City combines his passions for teaching, writing, and congregational ministry. He and his wife Jennifer reside in Flushing, Queens, allowing easy access for following his beloved New York Mets. The sermon series submitted for this competition was preached primarily at a unique and growing Wednesday evening worship service that Ian leads at his church.

Watch a sermon from Rev. Rottenberg’s series.