We begin our prayer: “O God of compassion….” Thomas Bray looked into his world with the God of compassion and saw ways to teach and comfort and advocate for all God’s children. May we have the grace to do the same as we look with the God of compassion at our own world (home and family, neighborhood, workplace, city, state, nation, world, you get the idea). Today, in word and deed let us see and let us act with compassion.
The Collect for the Commemoration
O God of compassion, who opened the heart of your servant Thomas Bray to the needs of the Church in the New World, and to found societies to relieve them: Make the Church diligent at all times to propagate the Gospel, 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, for ever and ever. Amen.
Thomas Bray was born at Marton, in Shropshire, England, in 1656. After graduating from Oxford and being ordained, he became a country parson in Warwickshire. In 1696 he was invited by the Bishop of London to be responsible for the oversight of Church work in the colony of Maryland. Three years later, as the Bishop’s Commissary, he sailed to America for his first, and only, visitation. Though he spent only two and a half months in Maryland, Bray was deeply concerned about the neglected state of the American churches, and the great need for the education of clergymen, lay people, and children.[…] His understanding of, and concern for, Native Americans and blacks were far ahead of his time. He founded thirty-nine lending libraries in America, as well as numerous schools. He raised money for missionary work and influenced young English priests to go to America.
[…] When the deplorable condition of English prisons was brought to Bray’s attention, he set to work to influence public opinion and to raise funds to alleviate the misery of the inmates. He organized Sunday “Beef and Beer” dinners in prisons, and advanced 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 the Georgia colony became a reality. Read morefrom Holy Women, Holy Men