Why William Wilberforce?

William Wilberforce (1759-1833)

William Wilberforce (1759-1833)

Inspired by his ardent Christian faith, Wilberforce came to believe that the slave trade of his day was abhorrent, immoral, and had to be brought to an end.  While he was initially reluctant to champion the controversial abolitionist movement within English Parliament, Wilberforce gradually developed a strong sense of his vocation: that God was calling him to take action in pursuit of justice.  From thereon, fighting for the abolition of the slave trade and for other social reforms became his tireless life’s work.  Although the journey was not easy and his beliefs caused many to despise him, Wilberforce knew that he had been given meaningful work to do by God.  His relentless pursuit of this work made a profound difference in the world and impacted the lives of countless people.

Wilberforce did many things well that we aspire to learn from and to emulate:

  • He cared about justice for all.

  • He struggled for what was right.

  • He understood that change only happens by working in community.

  • His actions were anchored and sustained by his faith.

While few of us are called to a task as historically significant as Wilberforce’s, we do believe that God has created each and every one of us with unique vocations in mind.  We desire that UNC students would lead rich lives that are full of meaning in pursuit of what is good, and true and beautiful.  The 2018 Wilberforce Conference aims to encourage students towards this end by introducing them to UNC alumni who have been engaged in meaningful work and have lived wisely, in the great tradition of William Wilberforce.