6 March 2008
Mr. Edwards completed two five-year terms as General Director for the Alliance last year, but wanted to stay on until he had finished work on a new vision for evangelicalism, outlined in his new book An Agenda for Change.
Due to depart in September, he will spend his final six months as General Director presenting this vision to the church on a tour of the UK and America.
Mr. Edwards announced his resignation to staff at a celebration of his twenty years working for the Evangelical Alliance and its sister organization, the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance.
“These twenty years have been absolutely magnificent and have provided lots of exciting opportunities for me and the Alliance.
But I believe God is saying that now is the right time for me to hand on the baton to someone new, who can lead the next generation of evangelicals to implement our renewed vision for society.
The vision I and the Alliance have worked on together is clear: our future as evangelicals is to be at the heart of spiritual and social transformation for our society.”
Mr. Edwards, who was the Alliance’s first black General Director, has progressed and deepened the diversity of the Alliance while bringing credibility and attention to evangelicals in the ecumenical and secular spheres. In the UK he strengthened the voice of evangelicals in the media and in Parliament, while on an international level he was fundamental to the formation of Micah Challenge, a movement calling governments to account for justice for the poor.
Katei Kirby, Chief Executive Officer of the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance (ACEA) said: “Joel has played a significant part in uniting and engaging the diversity of evangelicals in the UK. He leaves a living legacy of gracious and consistent Christian leadership that is both exemplary and inspiring.”Derek Tidball, Chair of the Alliance council, said: “Joel is a greatly valued friend and ambassador for the Alliance, and has worked tirelessly in the name of Christ during his time as General Director.
We are very thankful for his contribution to the evangelical world and are already exploring ways in which we can continue to work together.”
Mike Talbot, Chair of the Alliance board, said: “Joel is an evangelical statesman who has made a significant contribution to the witness of the church in this land. He is respected across the Christian community, and beyond, and loved for his graciousness and his passion for the good news of Christ.
We will be very sad to see him go, but we are excited about the opportunities that will open up for him in the future.”
Mr. Edwards plans to continue his active involvement with Micah Challenge International, which he chairs. He also remains passionate about issues of human rights and freedom of conscience, and will continue to champion these through his role as a commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Mr. Edwards, a British immigrant from Jamaica, is an honorary Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral. He was a probation officer for fourteen years and the senior pastor of Mile End New Testament Church of God for ten years.
Mr. Edwards was offered the post of General Secretary of the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance in 1988, becoming UK director for the Evangelical Alliance UK four years later and General Director of the Evangelical Alliance UK in 1997. He received a medal of appreciation for services to Jamaica in 2003, an honorary doctorate from St. Andrews University last year, and is a published author.
More about his book and tour can be found at An Agenda For Change.