Saint Days: William Wilberforce, Renewer of Society
William Wilberforce (1759-1853) was a British politician and activist. He attended St. John's College at Cambridge where he lived a very hedonistic lifestyle, frequently gambling and drinking. Nevertheless, at the age of 21, he was elected as a member of the British Parliament as an independent, refusing to align with either of the major parties in British politics.
In 1784, Wilberforce's life changed as he toured Europe with his mother and a friend. On the trip, the group read The Rise of Religion in the Soul by Doddridge which started him on a journey of spiritual renewal. John Newton, the Anglican clergyman who wrote the iconic hymn "Amazing Grace," served as a mentor. Due to his conversion, Wilberforce became a staunch conservative which caused him to strongly oppose the slave trade in England. Largely on account of his activism, the Slave Trade Act was passed in 1807, abolishing the English slave trade.
Let us remember William Wilberforce in our prayers today:
Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the heart of your servant William Wilberforce to manifest your compassion and mercy on the poor and the persecuted; Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who give thanks for his righteous zeal may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.