Rev. Dr. Gregory James Edwards is Founder and Senior Pastor of the Resurrected Life Community Church, United Church of Christ, and President and CEO of the Resurrected Community Development Corporation. Under his leadership the church and community development corporation have experienced exponential growth, evidenced by membership, financial self-sufficiency, and employment creation.
His contextual approach to ministry–based upon an understanding of the intersectionality of race, spiritual growth, educational empowerment, economic self-sufficiency, and public policy-led to the creation of the Resurrected Life Children’s Academy, the Lehigh Valley Freedom School Partnership, and the James Lawson Freedom Schools; all initiatives of the Resurrected Community Development Corporation.
A frequent lecturer at colleges and universities, he frequently presents to the faith-based, corporate and nonprofit sectors, and has been featured in TIME Magazine. As a professional musician, he specializes in Black Sacred Music, including Jazz.
Dr. Edwards is the Director of POWER-Lehigh Valley, the area’s largest multi-faith, multiracial community organizing initiative, Board Chair for Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, board member of PA Stands Up, co-founder of Lehigh Valley Stands Up, and board member for the Community First Fund, the largest Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in Central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley focused on improving the economic well-being of historically marginalized, and underrepresented communities in Eastern Pennsylvania.
During his 2016 trip to Liberia, West Africa, Dr. Edwards was enstooled as Chief by the National Council of Elders of the World-Wide Missions of Liberia, and the people of Grand Bassa.
In 2016, Dr. Edwards was inducted into the inaugural class of the Martin Luther King, Jr. College of Pastoral Leadership at Morehouse College, for his exemplary leadership in advancing Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community through peace, truth, justice, and nonviolent direct action. In 2017, during their Sesquicentennial celebration, Morehouse further honored Dr. Edwards, inducting him into the college’s prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers.
As the first person of Black African Heritage to run for federal office in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, his historic candidacy for Congress in 2018, was covered by MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, Guardian Magazine, NOW THIS, and a host of other media, and featured in the PBS documentary “Battleground.” In 2019 he was appointed Chair of the Lehigh County Democratic Black Caucus, and in 2020 he was appointed to the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee.
A graduate of Geneva College (Bachelor of Science in Urban Ministry Leadership), the University of Delaware’s Graduate School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs (Certification in Community Economic Development), Drew University (Master of Divinity), and the New Brunswick Theological Seminary (Doctor of Ministry in Prisons, Public Policy and Transformative Justice), Dr. Edwards has been awarded the NAACP Man of Vision Award, the Peace Pilgrim of the Year Award, the Community Development Award by the Allentown Human Relations Commission, the William Gray III Leadership Award, and the prize for Multi-Cultural Church Leadership from Drew University, where he simultaneously served as President of the Theological Student Association and the Black Ministerial Caucus.
For many, Christianity in general, and the Church in particular, have become irrelevant at best and toxic at worse. Far too many churches and ministries, because of bad theology and/or leadership, are far removed from the everyday personal struggles and systemic issues members of their church and community face.
Only the privileged and theologically ignorant can afford to separate one’s faith in Jesus, the Christ (an Afro-Asiatic Palestinian Jew, falsely convicted by the government) from the racial, educational, economic, and emotional realities that countless persons must deal with day in and day out.
In the words of Howard Thurman the Church now, like never before, must ask itself “what does the Gospel have to say to those whose backs are up against the wall?” The answer to Thurman’s question is the primary reasons Resurrected Life Community Church, UCC was founded and is needed. We believe God is still speaking and has much to say to those whose backs are up against the wall.