Joel Edwards appointed to Equality & Human Rights Commission

The General Director of the Evangelical Alliance has been appointed as a commissioner to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The Rev Joel Edwards, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, has been appointed as a commissioner to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

|PIC1|Rev Edwards says the EHRC's task of balancing rights with responsibilities will be a formidable task, but he is honoured to be involved, and will strive to ensure the values of faith communities play an effective role in the commission.

"I am sure all of us as commissioners will find our learning curve is very steep," he said.

"I'm certain it will be a massive experiment for a democratic society seeking to respect the diversity of its community.

"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 added, "But I think equally it is going to be a huge challenge for Christians and people of faith as we learn how to present our faith distinctives within a liberal democracy, where morals and values cannot be dictated to by Christian faith alone."

The setting up of the single equality commission, designed by the Government to represent the best option for promoting a fair, equal and diverse society and tackling illegal discrimination, was established by the Equality Act 2006.

It brings together the three existing UK equality commissions - the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission. It will also incorporate three new human rights strands - age, sexual orientation and religion and belief.

Rev Edwards, a British immigrant from Jamaica, 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.

He has previously been involved in the Metropolitan Police Independent Advisory Group, the Government's "Working Together" interfaith consultation group and an advisory group to HM Prison Service.

Rev Edwards received a medal of appreciation for services to Jamaica in 2003, and an honorary doctorate from St Andrews University earlier this year.

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