Cody J. Sanders (he/him) is an ordained Baptist minister (Alliance of Baptists and American Baptist Churches U.S.A.). He teaches in the areas of pastoral theology and spiritual care within congregational and community contexts, having taught on the adjunct faculties in this area in several other institutions, including Andover Newton Theological School and Chicago Theological Seminary.
Prior to joining the faculty of Luther Seminary, Sanders was pastor to Old Cambridge Baptist Church in Cambridge, MA, where he also served as American Baptist Chaplain to Harvard University, and Advisor for LGBTQ+ Affairs in the Office of Religious, Spiritual, and Ethical Life at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Sanders is a leader in the area of LGBTQIA+ spiritual care, writing and speaking frequently on the subject in churches and academic institutions. He is a practitioner of narrative theories of pastoral care and counseling, training clergy, students, and lay leaders in these skills of caregiving. His current research aims to build ministerial and congregational capacity to lead in cultivating caring communities amid climate collapse, political turmoil, technological acceleration, and the uncertainty of complex near-future scenarios for our life in the world.
His books include Corpse Care: Ethics for Tending the Dead with Mikeal Parsons (Fortress, 2023), Christianity, LGBTQ Suicide, and the Souls of Queer Folk (Lexington, 2020), A Brief Guide to Ministry with LGBTQIA Youth (Westminster John Knox, 2017), Microaggressions in Ministry: Confronting the Hidden Violence of Everyday Church with Angela Yarber (Westminster John Knox, 2015), and Queer Lessons for Churches on the Straight and Narrow: What All Christians Can Learn from LGBTQ Lives (FaithLab, 2013; translated into Japanese and Swahili). He has also edited resources for congregations on racial justice and LGBTQ inclusivity, including, Trouble the Water: A Christian Resource for the Work of Racial Justice edited with Michael-Ray Mathews and Marie Onwubuariri (Nurturing Faith, 2017), and Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Resource for Congregations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, 2nd ed. (Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, 2013).
Playing church at six years old in a backyard chapel built by his father and grandfather at his childhood home in South Carolina, wearing a tiny robe and stole made by his grandmother, Sanders began nurturing a deep and abiding love for the church. That love for the church grew into a passion for educating clergy through contributing to the praxis of theological education and ministerial formation. He takes delight in every opportunity to share with congregations in preaching, worship leadership, and teaching.
Partial List of Speaking Topics:
- LGBTQIA+ inclusivity, justice, and care
- History and emerging trends in deathcare in the U.S., including green burial
- Death, grief, and care of the dead within communal contexts
- Developing lay leadership in congregational care and practical training in care skills
- Microaggressions (bringing our intentional and unintentional communication into alignment with our expressed commitments of inclusivity, belonging, and justice)
- Developing capacity for near-future thinking and praxis in ministerial contexts
- Ph.D., Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University
- M.Div., McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University
- M.S. (Community Counseling), Mercer University
- B.A., Gardner-Webb University
Corpse Care: Ethics for Tending the Dead
Fortress Press (2023)
Death and the treatment of the dead body loom large in our collective, cultural consciousness. Corpse Care relates the history of death care in the U.S. to craft robust, constructive, practical ethics for tending the dead. It specifically relates corpse care to economic, environmental, and pastoral concerns. The authors, Cody Sanders (Luther Seminary) and Mikeal Parsons (Baylor University), explore the materiality and meaning of the dead body and the living’s relationship to it. All the biggest questions facing the planetary human community relate in one way or another to the corpse. Surprisingly, Christian communities are largely missing in the discussion of the dead, having abdicated the historic role in care for the dead to the funeral industry. Christianity has stopped its reflection about the body once that body no longer bears life. Corpse Care stakes a claim that the fact of embodiment, this incarnational truth, this process of our bodily becoming, is a practical, ethical, and theological necessity.