The Geneva-based World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) is conducting an essay competition for theology students and young pastors under 35 years of age on the concept of “Paradise” as a source of inspiration for the renewal of global social and economic structures.

The winner will be awarded the Lombard Prize by the WCRC in association with Lombard, Odier & Cie, Bankers of Geneva, Switzerland. Three prizes will be awarded by an international jury of scholars: first prize, $2,500; second prize, $600; third prize, $400.

“We believe this theme will provoke lively and creative response,” says Douwe Visser, executive secretary for WCRC’s theology office. “At this time of financial crisis and a questioning of the moral basis of the global financial system, the idea is provocative. We look forward to some very original, and yet deep, thinking in response.”

Applicants for the award are being asked to reflect on the question of how the concept of paradise can be developed in a “relevant theological way and as an inspirational model for a just society.”

WCRC coordinates the competition on behalf of the Lombard Prize Committee. The award is named for the Genevan banker, Georges Lombard, who served as general treasurer of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (one of WCRC’s founding organizations) from 1948 to 1970.

The aim is to encourage theological work in the classical traditions of Reformed thought by bringing together elements of faith and Reformed theology in relation to real-life concerns.

Essays may be submitted in English, French, Spanish or German. Deadline for applications is Dec. 23, 2012. The winners will be announced in Geneva on Earth Day, April 22, 2013.

Further information about the competition is available on WCRC’s website: http://www.wcrc.ch

WCRC represents 80 million Christians in 108 countries. Its member churches are active worldwide in initiatives supporting economic, climate and gender justice, mission, and cooperation among Christians of different traditions.

Information for this article furnished by Kristine Greenaway, WCRC communications director.