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William Wilberforce and His Circle of Friends

“... unless God has raised you up for this
very thing, you will be worn out by the
opposition of men and devils. But if God be
for you, who can be against you?”

So wrote the aging John Wesley, as a word of encouragement, to William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the Member of Parliament who led the campaign to abolish the slave trade in the latter part of the eighteenth century and first part of the nineteenth century. The cause of abolition is probably the activity for which Wilberforce is best known in history. However, it marks only a central theme to approximately forty years of public life and activity.

Wilberforce’s life was filled with one moral and religious project after another. It was a life of unrelenting activity that included tireless organizing, research, persuasion, confrontation, persistence and pressure upon the British system. In addition to his abolition work, he was consistently involved in church work that included the Church Missionary Society and the sending of missionaries to India and Africa, the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Proclamation Society Against Vice and Immorality, the School Society, the Sunday School Society, the Bettering Society, the Vice Society and others. His public philanthropic efforts were many, including relieving the suffering of the manufacturing poor, and French refugees and foreigners in distress. He made major financial contributions to at least seventy such societies, many of them bearing his name as an officer. History records Wilberforce as having been active in numerous reform movements, which included reform in hospital care, fever institutions, asylums, infirmaries, refugees and penitentiaries. He supported religious publications and education, especially the schools of Hannah More, a close friend and leading reformer of British education...

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Richard L. Gathro

Richard L. Gathro, VP Programs, formerly served as program director for the Pepperdine Washington DC program. He was formerly the executive vice president of the Council for Christian College & Universities, an association of 182 campuses in 24 countries and headquartered in Washington, D.C. He received his doctorate in education and theology from the University of Oxford.


COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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