Calling for kindness, Elizabeth Latham ’20 wins sermon contest

Elizabeth Latham ’20 – calling for kindness throughout the world with her oration, “Feed and You Will Be Fed” – won the ninth annual Harold I. Saperstein ’31 Cornell Student Topical Sermon Contest, held March 17 in Anabel Taylor Hall.

Vijayen “VJ” Satish ’19 took second place with his sermon, “E Pluribus Unum: A Vision for America.” Nicholas Heisler ’19 rounded out the top three with his sermon, “Living Life with Open Hands.”

Over several weeks starting in February, 21 students presented their original sermons. Participants were asked to address an economic theme this year, to honor Uri Meir Possen, the late professor who once chaired the Department of Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences.

With the Cornell United Religious Work office, Norman Turkish ’56, MBA ’60 continues to organize this annual competition, named in honor of Saperstein, who served as rabbi of the reform Temple Emanu-El in Lynbrook, New York. Saperstein served as a U.S. Army chaplain during World War II, spoke out against global atrocities and strongly supported civil rights.

In her sermon, Latham – who majors in philosophy and religious studies – asked: “How do we build a just society? What economic decisions can we make today to reshape our world? The first answer is that we need to build good infrastructure, a safety net to catch those who have fallen,” she said. “Our second answer is, we need to live a life of compassion. When we come across the needy, those who are asking for our help, it is each of our individual responsibilities to stop and help. Live our lives with open hands.”

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