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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers Thomas Bray, Priest and Missionary, 1730.

The church in colonial America was often neglected and badly used by both Englishmen and Americans. But the church had a great champion in Thomas Bray, the Bishop of London's Commissary to Maryland, an Oxford professor as well as a priest. He took very seriously the task of educating poor clergymen, laymen, and children. His understanding of and concern for Native Americans and other people of color were far ahead of his time. He founded church libraries and schools in England and America, raised money for missionary endeavors, and influenced young English priests to try their vocations in America. He fought long to get an American bishop consecrated, but failed. He founded two of our church's most effective missionary organizations, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (now United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel), both still in operation after two and a half centuries.

The deplorable condition of England's prisons was of grave concern to Thomas Bray. He organized Sunday "Beef and Beer" dinners in those prisons and went to Parliament with proposals for prison reform. It was Thomas Bray who first suggested to General Oglethorpe the idea of founding a humanitarian colony for the relief of honest debtors, but he died before seeing this, the Georgia colony, a reality. Few clergymen have taken more seriously our Lord's command, "Feed my sheep."

Help us remember, O Lord, those whom society forgets, especially prisoners and captives. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

O God of compassion, you opened the eyes of your servant Thomas Bray to see the needs of the Church in the New World, and led him to found societies to meet those needs: Make the Church in this land diligent at all times to propagate the Gospel among those who have not received it, and to promote the spread of Christian knowledge; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

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