Earlier this month The Church of England General Synod gave final approval to a change to the Lesser Festival commemorating William Wilberforce on 30th July by adding two other anti-slavery campaigners: Thomas Clarkson and Olaudah Equiano. The latter was himself a former slave. This recognised the combined effort involved in the abolition of the slave trade two centuries ago. While the Collect and Post Communion prayer are easily adapted and the readings remain the same, there are no intercession resources for this new designation. This link will take you to a set I have written, which effectively forms an appendix to my book Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days (SPCK 2005).
Like many I found myself being profoundly affected by preparing to preach for the two hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in 2007. Since then I am moved whenever I sing the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, written by the former slave ship captain John Newton. The prayers below pick up on themes from the readings and that hymn. Sadly slavery is not confined to the past and we know there are modern forms, not least through the sex trade, so this is no mere historical commemoration but takes us to the darkest areas of contemporary life.
The new designation for 30th July is ‘William Wilberforce, Social Reformer, Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson, Anti-Slavery Campaigners, 1833, 1797 and 1846’. The amendment required to the Collect and Post Communion prayer is quite simply to substitute their names where it says ‘William Wilberforce’.
Intercession resource for 30th July: first published in the Church Times, 23rd July 2010