For Such a Time as This: The Legacy of the Clapham Circle

by | Jun 28, 2010 | 2010, Musings | 0 comments

In the late 1700s (1790-1830), a group of wealthy influential Englishmen put feet to their prayers. As committed Christian gentlemen, they meet regularly for prayer, worship and strategy sessions. Their goal was to take their Christian theology and put it to work in their society.

These men lived south-west of London, England in the Clapham area. They were active in British society and some served in Parliament. Men like William Wilburforce (Member of Parliament), John Venn (pastor in the Clapham area), Lord Teignmouth (Governor-General of India) and others had means and their motive was to see society changed, and changed for the better.

In a period of about 40 years, this circle of perhaps 20 conservative men fostered a wide array of reforms that still affect our lives today.

They established soup kitchens, and started schools for the deaf, blind and indigent. They began lending libraries so the poorest of society could have access to books. The visited prisons and championed reforms for the men and women in jails. They established hospitals, encouraged vaccinations and even worked for shorter work weeks for those in factories.

Their interests ranged from addressing major societal ills like slavery to founding the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals. They had an interest in the Arts, so they started the National Gallery of Art in London They also wrote books, established missionary societies and worked diligently to ensure that the gospel spread throughout the Empire.

If it mattered to ordinary people of Great Britain, it mattered to this group of distinguished Christian leaders.

Their efforts remind me of the lecture Mordecai gave to his niece who in spite of her being a Jew, ascended to the position of Queen in Persia. He confronted her with the needs of their people and ignored her fears as he declared,”…Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS!”

We are living in just such a time. The social ills of our day cry out for Christian involvement. We too must put feet to our prayers and get involved. If our community has a high population of transients, we should be about the business of helping them with housing. If our communities can not afford libraries, the Christian community should rise up and provide some reading opportunities for underprivileged kids. If boys need dads, our god fearing “circles” of believers should be stepping up and volunteering to be mentors.

This week consider the role of this 18th century group of activists. They changed the then known world, for the good! That same opportunity lies before you and I. Lets get involved.

We could use my living room for the Laguna Niguel Circle!


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