William Wilberforce was England’s greatest social reformer of the first half of the 19th century. A devout Christian, he chose a career in politics as the best way to fulfill his sense of calling from the Lord. He took as his goal in life the realization of two grand objectives: The elimination of the slave trade and the reform of manners in England.
For twenty years Wilberforce wrote, campaigned, organized, and offered legislation to bring to an end the hideous trafficking in human flesh on the back of which the English economy had been built. He was opposed by people of influence, but persevered. Joining forces with other anti-slavery groups, he forged a movement that blanketed England with the horrors of the slave trade, ultimately achieving Wilberforce’s goal of halting that trade in 1807. It would be another 26 years before slavery was abolished completely, and the news of that reached Wilberforce on his death bed.
At the same time, Wilberforce worked tirelessly to improve social conditions in England, laying the groundwork, through writing, organizing, speaking, and other hands-on efforts, for the era of Victorian social reforms. Wilberforce learned from John Wesley the importance of forging alliances, mounting pressure through training and literature, exemplifying the life of godliness, and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom as the center and key to all individual and social renewal.
Wilberforce’s example provides the impetus and vision for the effort at Kingdom renewal which is The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview.