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  • Writer's pictureJohn Usher

Tributes to Two Friends of CHF (Rev. Dr. Joel Edwards, CBE and Rev. Dr. Anthony R. Cross)

Joel Edwards

Joel Edwards (1951-2021) was the first Black leader of the Evangelical Alliance UK. He had come to the UK from Jamaica at age eight, and after working as a probation officer studied at London Bible College and was to become a minister of the New Testament Church of God. I got to know Joel in 1992. Having been general secretary of the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance since 1988, he had become the EA’s UK director. As with Clive Calver, who was then EA general secretary, Joel saw the importance of an understanding of history. It was through both Clive and Joel that a few historians became involved in historical projects on evangelicals. As EA general secretary - he succeeded Clive - it was Joel who commissioned David Hilborn and I to write the history of the EA (2001).

Joel was someone marked by vision, commitment and care. He became a member of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He was recognised as one of the most influential Black Christians in the UK. After his years with the EA, he became international director of Micah Challenge, tackling issues of global poverty. His work was recognised in various ways, for example by the award of a CBE and an honorary doctorate from St Andrew’s University. Among his books is An Agenda for Change: A Global Call for Spiritual and Social Transformation (2009). There have been many tributes to Joel. He was someone whom I respected more and more as I got to know him. Joel is survived by his wife, Carol, and two children.

Anthony R. Cross

Anthony made an enormous contribution to historical and theological study. I got to know Anthony well through Paternoster Press, working with Jeremy Mudditt and then Robin Parry. Anthony described developments at Paternoster. They originally had one monograph series, Paternoster Biblical and Theological Monographs, which began in 1997. Around 2000, they were receiving more submissions from Baptist authors - they had either published or had already accepted nine. The upshot was that Anthony was given freedom to set up a Baptist series. This led to multiple volumes being produced. Later Anthony brought into being a similar series for the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage, based at Regent's Park College. As an author, Anthony was prolific. I was always amazed at the extent of his interests and the size of his books. A particular interest was the theology and practice of baptism, seen in books such as Recovering the Evangelical Sacrament (2013). More recently his interest was in writing on Christian ministry, with two further major books, 'To communicate simply' (2016) and Useful Learning (2017). Anthony was meticulous in his research - as evidenced by the awe-inspiring number of footnotes in everything he produced - and also as an editor. I always had faith that what I wrote, which was never free from errors, would be sorted out by Anthony! I also remember Anthony as someone who appreciated the work of others and edited a number of Festschrifts, several for historians. Anthony is survived by his wife Jackie and two daughters.

By Rev. Dr. Ian Randall, FRHistS

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