Liberians across the world are mourning the sudden passing of the late veteran Liberian clergyman, statesman, and humanitarian, Rev. Dr. J. Edwin Lloyd, Sr.
Rev. Dr. Lloyd, who served as the former President of the Liberia National Red Cross Society, former Chaplain General of the Armed Forces of Liberia, and the first Director-General of the National Bureau of Veterans Affairs, Republic of Liberia, passed away on May 6 in Olney Maryland, USA.
He made his transition surrounded by family, and loved ones including his wife of 60 years, Mrs. Emma Mitchell Lloyd.
Lloyd was internationally recognized as a fearless and outspoken voice of reason during critical moments of crisis in Liberia. In the immediate aftermath of the 1980 military coup d'etat in Liberia, he was arrested and imprisoned for 2 years at the notorious Camp Belleh Yallah, in the jungles of Lofa County for preaching sermons sharply critical of the wave of executions and human rights abuse carried out by the ruling People’s Redemption Council (PRC).
In his memoirs captured in his book, “In the Army of the Lord,” released in 2021, he narrated that as Chaplain General of the Armed forces of Liberia he became increasingly concerned about the culture of violence which was unleashed at the heels of the Coup.
He consequently organized a special worship service at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia during which he rebuked the military regime demanding that the ruling People's Redemption Council (PRC) end all executions.
He subsequently led a delegation with members of the diplomatic corps to the Executive Mansion to bring pressure upon the then Head of State Samuel Kanyon Doe, who made a declaration ending the series of executions of former government officials. Subsequent to his release from prison, he remained unwavering in his advocacy for justice, and human rights rising to international prominence as President of the Liberia National Red Cross Society.
Ten years later, at the onset of the civil war in Liberia in 1990, Rev. Dr. Lloyd again rose to the occasion and made the famous demand for peace talks between the Government of President Samuel Doe, and the National Patriotic Front to avert what he predicted as a prolonged crisis with devastating ends to the nation. This advice, as wise as it seems in hindsight, was met with great rebuke by top leaders in government.
He was threatened with execution and consequently forced to flee with his family to neighboring Cote d’Ivoire where he founded a safe zone and refuge center for hundreds of thousands of Liberians fleeing the scourge of the Civil War. In Côte d’Ivoire, he founded the HUB Ministries, Int’l in 1990, which is credited for establishing the Union Baptist Center — the first multifaceted refugee center in the Ivory Coast with offices across the region and the United States, seeking relief and resettlement opportunities for more than 200,000 Liberian refugees.
He began his career as a young officer of the newly formulated Armed Forces of Liberia which was transitioning from the Liberia Frontier Force in the administration of President William V.S. Tubman. As a promising officer, he took the hand of young Emma Mitchell, daughter of the late Hon. Samuel A Mitchell of Rivercess County. They were married on February 23rd, 1963, into a union which was blessed by their beloved children, grandchildren and great grandchildren - lasting for 60 years until his passing.
A proud son of Grand Bassa County, Lloyd was a 20-year veteran of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) with advanced training in the United States and North Africa. As a top officer of the AFL, he served as senior legal Counsel on the AFL Court Martial Board, Quarter Master General of the AFL, and later as Chaplain General of the Armed Forces of Liberia — a position held until the immediate aftermath of the 1980 coup d'etat.
Subsequent to his military career, Lloyd gained much prominence amongst religious and humanitarian leaders of Liberia. He served as Special Representative of the International Red Cross to the famine-stricken regions of Ethiopia and Sudan after which he was elected in 1986 as President of the Liberian National Red Cross Society (LNRCS).
Lloyd’s tenure as President of the Liberia National Red Cross Society was marked by many notable achievements including the expansion of chapters throughout Liberia, the recruitment of hundreds of youth into the Red Cross, the establishment of Monrovia’s only Blood Bank, and the acquisition of several ambulances.
As the leading figure of the Red Cross Societies in Africa, he received several international awards including the Society’s highest – the Henry Dunant’s Award for distinguished services to humanity. Lloyd is noted for his leadership and pioneering roles in several other humanitarian organizations. He is also a former executive of the Family Planning Association of Liberia (FPAL), as well as a founder and former Treasurer of the “Group of 77” which caters to the handicapped.
He was ordained as a Baptist Minister in 1976 and rose steadily within the ranks of the clergy, gaining the attention of President William R. Tolbert who appointed him as Chaplain General and chief military cleric of Liberia in 1979. With this portfolio, he became a pioneering figure in the establishment of the Liberia Council of Churches.
Throughout his career, Lloyd traveled to over 40 countries and received more than 50 awards for his services to the church and humanity. He remains a leading voice within the Liberian clergy, and a leading cleric within the Liberian Baptist arena where he formerly served as Vice President of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, Moderator of the Providence Baptist Association, and President of the Liberian Baptist Sunday School Convention.
Until his passing, he was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of HUB Ministries Int’l, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the JE Lloyd Foundation, and Senior Pastor of the Hopeful Baptist Church in Schieffelin, Liberia where he presided for 45 years.
Funeral arrangements for the late Rev. Dr. J. Edwin Lloyd, Sr. will be announced later.