30 July 2001


Today the calendar of the Anglican church commemorates William Wilberforce, who, in this age of cynicism (including my own), is a reminder to us that it is possible for a person to be both an effective politician and an example of Christian service.

Wilberforce was born in 1759, was educated at Cambridge, and was eventually elected to Parliament in 1780, where he served in the House of Commons until 1825. In 1784 he experienced an evangelical conversion and became committed to using the privileges of his office for the furthering of the Gospel - promoting missions abroad and more universal education at home; calling for greater political toleration of Roman Catholics; and crusading for the abolition of slavery. Due to his tireless efforts, Britain ended the slave trade in 1807 and abolished slavery throughout the empire in 1833, just one month before Wilberforce's death.

Wilberforce died in July, 1833 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.