Lent Madness: William Wilberforce vs. Chad

It’s the last battle of the First Round! The winner faces off against Perpetua in the Round of the Saintly Sixteen. Speaking of which, Lent Madness 2011 will continue on Monday morning as the sixteen remaining saints battle it out in pursuit of the coveted Golden Halo. Stay tuned!

In recent action Fabian defeated William Laud 63% to 37% to advance to the next round against C.S. Lewis. Click Lent Madness 2011 to view the updated tournament bracket.

William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was a British politician most closely associated with the abolition of the slave trade. He was born into a wealthy household with parents firmly rooted in the mainstream of the Church of England. When young William started displaying evangelical tendencies, his parents moved him to a different school in an effort to quell his nonconformist leanings. This worked for a time but would not last.

He began his political career in 1780 as a member of Parliament from Yorkshire. In 1785 he had a conversion experience and became an evangelical — an experience that drove the passion for reform that defined the rest of his life. Willberforce’s political views were informed by his faith and he worked tirelessly to promote Christianity and Christian ethics in private and public life. His outlook was conservative and he focused on issues such as observing the Sabbath and eradicating what he considered immoral behavior through education and reform. Wilberforce was also interested in international missionary work and was a founding member of the Church Missionary Society.

But he is best known for his efforts to end British participation in the slave trade. Wilberforce’s involvement in the abolition movement grew out of his desire to put his Christian principles into action in public life. He viewed the slave trade as unchristian and fueled by the greed of owners and traders.  Sensing a call from God, Wilberforce wrote in 1787 that “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners (ie. moral values).”

Wilberforce died in 1833 and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Collect for William Wilberforce Just and eternal God, we give you thanks for the stalwart faith and persistence of your servants William Wilberforce and Anthony Ashley-Cooper, who, undeterred by opposition and failure, held fast to a vision of justice in which no child of yours might suffer in enforced servitude and misery. Grant that we, drawn by that same Gospel vision, may persevere in serving the common good and caring for those who have been cast down, that they may be raised up through Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Chad was the 7th century British Bishop of Litchfield who is perhaps best known for NOT being the Bishop of York. He was elected and installed but after some objected, he withdrew in order to avoid a church controversy. Soon after this he was appointed Bishop of Litchfield. Chad became well-known for always travelling on foot, preaching and teaching along the way. It was not until the Archbishop of Canterbury gave him a horse that he consented to use one when visiting far away parishes.

Most of what we know of Chad comes from the writing of St. Bede. He writes that Chad was “a diligent performer in deed of what he had learnt in the Scriptures should be done.” Bede also tells us that Chad’s life was one of constant travel — he visited continually the towns, countryside, cottages, villages and houses under his care in order to preach the Gospel.

Chad was well-beloved during his brief episcopate — he died 2 1/2 years after his consecration. An example of this is that in the years following his death many chapels and many wells were constructed and named for him. The wells are particularly associated with Chad — it was an ancient custom to dig a well and mark it with a name so that thirsty travellers might drink and remember the name with gratitude.

Collect for Chad Almighty God, whose servant Chad, for the peace of the Church, relinquished cheerfully the honors that had been thrust upon him, only to be rewarded with equal responsibility: Keep us, we pray, from thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and ready at all times to step aside for others, (in honor preferring one another,) that the cause of Christ may be advanced; in the name of him who washed his disciples’ feet, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.



2 Comments on “Lent Madness: William Wilberforce vs. Chad”

  1. The Virtual Abbey says:

    Had to vote for Wilberforce because his movie was great and Chad, well, his legacy includes hanging things and elections gone bad. Welcome to my reasoning process.

  2. Bob Chapman says:

    Well, at least we know there was never a pregnant Chad.

    I hope.

    Anyway, the movie Amazing Grace had a major problem for “detail oriented” people like me. The tune New Britain wasn’t the original tune for the words to “Amazing Grace.” Anyone with the Anonymous Four CD American Angels has heard one alternate tune.

    So, where my strange mind goes with this, is to honor Wilberforce with words by a former ship captain, but performed by some gentlemen who benefited from the movement started by Wilberforce. But, not to New Britain.

    Is it strange to have the Blind Boys of Alabama and Anonymous Four in the same music collection?

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