It was a privilege to meet Joel Edwards yesterday, retiring General Director of the Evangelical Alliance. Joel was visiting LST as part of his An Agenda for Change Tour and kindly stopped off at the Bookshop to sign copies of his new book of the same title (minus the ‘Tour’, of course).
As the first black man at the top of the EA, it seems that Joel has never been far from controversy, most recently about his appointment to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, with questions being raised from both sides — conservative evangelicals suspecting him of selling out, the gay lobby wanting to know how a representative of evangelicalism could ever possibly defend equality.
I’d say the gay lobby have a good point there: evangelicals are not exactly renowned for promoting equal rights for gays. In fact, the term ‘evangelical’ itself seems to have become something of a dirty word: synonymous with bigoted, prejudiced, short-sighted, narrow-minded, obnoxious, homophobic… I could go on, but I won’t: I’m happy to say that, in my brief encounter at least, Joel Edwards didn’t come over as any of these things; a charming, urbane gentleman, rather.
And much of his book, if I’ve understood things correctly — have to say I haven’t read it yet, but yes, it’s on the agenda; and I did take the opportunity to grab a signed copy — is about rescuing the word ‘evangelical’ from all these negative connotations. Is that possible? Time will tell…
An Agenda for Change: A Global Call for Spiritual and Social Transformation
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