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Jamaican-born Rev. Joel Edwards, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, has been appointed a Commissioner of the new Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in the United Kingdom (UK).
Set up under the Equity Act of 2006, the Commission will work towards eliminating discrimination, reducing inequality, protecting human rights and building good relations.
The body, which came into being on October 1, 2007 brings together the three existing UK equality Commissions – the Commission for Racial Equality, Equal Opportunities Commission, and the Disability Rights Commission. It will also have responsibility for other aspects of equality: age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, as well as human rights.
Rev. Edwards said he is honoured to be involved in the EHRC, and will strive to ensure that the values of faith communities are considered in the Commission’s work. “As a Christian leader, I believe one of my primary responsibilities will be to ensure that the values of faith communities, our concerns for important issues such as respect and tolerance, play an effective role in this Commission,” he stated.
He noted further that the EHRC’s task of balancing rights with responsibilities will be a formidable task. “I am certain it will be a massive experiment for a democratic society seeking to respect the diversity of its community,” he stated.
Rev. Edwards is an honorary Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, and is passionate about unity in the church. He was a probation officer for 14 years and the senior pastor of Mile End New Testament Church of God for 10 years before becoming the first black general director of the Evangelical Alliance in 1997.
Rev. Edwards received a Prime Minister’s medal of appreciation for services to Jamaica in 2003, and an honorary doctorate from St. Andrews University earlier this year. In August, he preached the sermon at the annual Jamaican Independence Service of Praise and Thanksgiving in the UK.