Bradford Academy – A Name Rooted in Godly Heritage
Several years ago, when we began meeting to discuss the possibility of starting a school in Mebane, we asked ourselves, “What do we want an independent school to accomplish?” From that discussion we formulated a list of ideals that we hoped would characterize a graduate from the school. These ideals included, among other things, godliness, courage, perseverance, the ability to think with wisdom and discernment, and the ability to speak with eloquence. We desire an institution that would help train children to bring Christ into the marketplace of ideas, business, politics, and any other calling. When we reached the point of choosing a name, we wanted to pick something that would embody our vision. For this reason we decided to name the school for an historic figure that lived a life of godliness and grace, an individual who embodied the virtue and character we are teaching our children. We settled on William Bradford, the renowned Pilgrim leader and governor of Plymouth colony.
Godliness and Conviction in His Youth
William Bradford came to faith as a young man. Born in 1590, Bradford was soon orphaned and suffered trials from an early age. He experienced sickness often; however, during his illnesses he gained an education through reading the few books that were available to him. He read the Scriptures and learned to love Christ and the Gospel. While still a teen, he came to believe that the doctrines of the state church were not according to his understanding of the Scriptures. This conviction brought him persecution, betrayal, exile, poverty and many other hardships unimaginable in our day. He refused to bow to the dominant worldview of his day and instead hold to the Word of God. It was this conviction that caused him to forsake the benefits and prosperity of his home to become one of the Pilgrims and sail to the untamed New World. The Pilgrims dreamed of a society characterized by liberty of conscience, the simple and biblical worship of God, and freedom to live in peace. When they landed at Plymouth on December 25th 1620, that vision seemed almost futile.
That winter was the first of many extreme trials. By the time summer arrived, only half of their number had survived.
A Godly Leader
One of those who had perished was John Carver the official leader of the group. Bradford was chosen as the new governor and held that position for the next sixty years. It was Bradford who established just laws, a stable economy, and a safe and orderly community. It was Bradford who maintained one of the longest peace treaties with the native tribes in the area. It was Bradford who brought them to that first Thanksgiving feast.
With great faith in God and love for Christ, he led the colony with wisdom and humble devotion to his people. He was reelected over thirty times, a testimony to his esteem among the Pilgrims! Through his faithfulness and labors, the seeds of democracy were planted in America, freedom of religion was introduced, and the rule of law was brought to a wild land. He remains one of the true fathers of this nation. He was a great Christian leader because he was a faithful Christian man.
An Example to Follow
This godly saint embodied many of the virtues we desire for ourselves and our children. It is for this reason we decided to name the school in honor of William Bradford. May God bless our efforts to establish a Christian and Classical school in the spirit of a great Pilgrim, and may God be pleased to use this effort to raise up many “Bradfords” for His work among the next generation.
He was a person for study as well as action; and hence, notwithstanding the difficulties through which he had passed in his youth, he attained unto a notable skill in languages. He was also well skilled in History, in Antiquity, and in Philosophy; and for Theology he became so versed in it, that he was an irrefragable disputant against the errors. But the crown of all was his holy, prayerful, watchful, and fruitful walk with God, wherein he was very exemplary.
– Cotton Mather (1702)