Professor Loconte Reviews Book on The Clapham Sect and William Wilberforce
Book offers model of philanthropy and lessons for Christians
NEW YORK, February 3, 2011—Joe Loconte, assistant professor of history at The King’s College, wrote "Slaves for Christ" for Philanthropy, a publication of the Philanthropy Roundtable. The article reviews Stephen Tompkins’ book The Clapham Sect: How Wilberforces Circle Transformed Britain and summarizes the work’s main principles for interested activists. It can be found in the Winter 2011 issue of Philanthropy.
Loconte tells the story of the Clapham Sect, “a nexus of a dozen families based in the village of Clapham and led by parliamentarian William Wilberforce” that “succeeded in abolishing the slave trade. In the process, through scores of private-sector initiatives, they helped make public virtue fashionable.”
Wilberforce’s “persuasion, personal integrity, sacrificial giving, principled activism and effective storytelling” made him an exceptional leader and a modern favorite of leadership studies. It was, however, the efforts of the entire Clapham Sect that finally led to the 1807 abolition of the African slave trade in Britain. Because the Clapham Sect understood that a “new narrative about human dignity and social justice had to be written,” they recognized the need to work in all channels of culture and on all levels of society.
The Clapham Sect’s evangelical faith motivated and united them as they sought to bring the Gospel’s redemptive power into all aspects of British society. Their faith-based initiatives in England inspired faith-based philanthropy in America throughout the 19th Century. The Young Men’s Christian Society, now known as the YMCA, and the Salvation Army were inspired by the Clapham Sect’s success. Indeed, the model that the Clapham Sect used inspired the promotion of civic virtue and engagement and encouraged philanthropy from scores of wealthy citizens.
The Clapham Sect worked across party lines and religious differences; this diverse unity remains crucial for today’s philanthropic Christians. Loconte urges philanthropists not to “shrink back from publicly identifying your cause with the moral and spiritual claims of the gospel,” but to be gracious and of good humor.
The King’s College, which seeks to prepare students to engage society as Wilberforce did, is located in the Empire State Building in New York City.
For more information about The King's College please contact: