The Rev. Dr. Cody J. Sanders
The Search Team recommends The Rev. Dr. Cody J. Sanders as our Pastoral Candidate because
- After a lengthy discernment process imbued with the Spirit’s presence, OCBC’s Search Team and Cody share a conviction that God is calling us to a shared ministry.
- Of the over 100 applicants we examined, Cody most closely embodies the personal attributes, skills, and experience that our congregation prioritized for our next pastor in the church-wide process of developing our Congregational Profile and Job Description:
Pastoral Care: Cody recently successfully defended his dissertation for the Ph.D. in Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Counseling at Brite Divinity School, and also has significant professional experience in pastoral care and counseling. We believe that his pastoral presence and skills will be a gift to our congregation and beyond. He is a good listener, and adept at asking thoughtful questions at the right time.
Christian Education and Social Justice Enablement: A nationally recognized speaker and writer, as well as a front line social justice activist, Cody facilitates the building of redemptive communities through encouraging churches to listen to, and learn from, people on the margins, with particular attention to LGBTQ communities and communities of color. From those starting points, he helps people connect the dots to a broad spectrum of justice concerns, from individual to global. He also brings local church experience in youth ministry and relates easily and authentically with young people.
Community Outreach and Church Growth: The practice of radical hospitality is one of Cody’s strengths, both in educating congregations (see above), and helping them live into their intentions (see below). The Search Team believes that radical welcome is a solid foundation for both spiritual and numerical growth.
Leadership and Organizational Development: Cody is already a key leader in the emerging generation of progressive Baptists. He has experience and skill in looking at churches systemically, and helping them discern and implement their visions for ministry. He is committed to helping OCBC continue its focus on organizational and leadership development, collaborating with current leaders and helping us identify and prepare our future leaders. Cody values and practices the collaborative leadership of pastor and people in Baptist congregational ministry.
Denominational affiliations: Cody is a life-long Baptist, and serves in leadership positions with The Alliance of Baptists, The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, and The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. His pastorate with us offers the opportunity for deeper connections for OCBC with progressive Baptists across North America.
The Rev. Dr. Cody J. Sanders was raised in the small town of Duncan, South Carolina, where his family has lived for several generations. He earned the B.A. in religious studies and psychology from Gardner- Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, the M.S. in community counseling from Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia, the M.Div. from the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer, and this March, successfully defended his dissertation for the Ph.D. in pastoral theology and pastoral counseling at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. His dissertation was titled, “Re-Visioning the Care of Souls: The Praxis of Pastoral Care in the Context of LGBTQ Suicide,” for which he received a dissertation fellowship from the Louisville Institute and earned a “pass with distinction” from his dissertation committee.
Cody was ordained in 2009 by Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia (an ABC and Alliance of Baptists congregation), and has served Baptist congregations in North Carolina and Georgia as youth minister and associate pastor. He currently serves as Assistant Minister for Pastoral Care at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, California. Cody’s training in pastoral care and counseling includes Clinical Pastoral Education in a hospital setting, serving as chaplain to an urban housing community for the working poor, a mental health counseling internship at a residential psychiatric treatment facility, and a doctoral residency at the Pastoral Counseling Center of Dallas, Texas.
Cody currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA) and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB). He is also the co-coordinator of the Racial Justice & Multiculturalism Community within the Alliance of Baptists and is a part of the implementation team for the Alliance’s “Congregational Compassion and Human Difference Initiative” (a project resourcing congregations for dialogue and activism on both LGBTQ and racial justice concerns), funded by a $104,000 grant from the Arcus Foundation for which Cody served as lead proposal author.
He is the author of Queer Lessons for Churches on the Straight and Narrow: What All Christians Can Learn from LGBTQ Lives (Macon, GA: Faithlab, 2013), winner of the National Bronze Medal for Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Trans Non-Fiction in the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Cody edited the second edition of Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Resource for Congregations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, published in 2013 by the BPFNA, AWAB, and the Alliance. He is also active in publishing peer-reviewed journal articles appearing in Theology & Sexuality, Pastoral Psychology, Sacred Spaces: The E-Journal of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, The Professional Counselor: Research and Practice, and the Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, and is an occasional contributor to The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches, Baptist News Global, and other online publications.
“The Risk of Welcome,” - video Sermon, Oakhurst Baptist Church, Decatur, GA
“A Message From the Future,” - video Sermon, First Baptist Church of Greenville, SC
“Practicing Community When You Can’t Go Home” - video Sermon, St. Mark’s UMC, Sacramento, CA
“How to Perform an Exorcism” - audio Sermon, Davis United Methodist Church, Davis, CA
“Parable of the Two Sons” – video Sermon, St. Mark’s UMC, Sacramento, CA
“Disturbing the Peace” - audio Sermon, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC
Public Theological Articles:
The Huffington Post
Baptist News Global
Religion Dispatches: 1, 2, 3, 4