The Reverend Edwin C. Sanders, II, is the Senior Servant and Founder of the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church in Nashville, Tennessee. This congregation has attracted a broad cross-section of people with the mission of being “inclusive of all and alienating to none.” Metropolitan has outreach ministries in the areas of substance abuse, advocacy for children, sexual violence, and harm reduction, in addition to providing services to persons infected with, and affected by, HIV/AIDS through the First Response Center, which Rev. Sanders founded in 1992.
Rev. Sanders is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where he received the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology in 1969. He specialized in Cultural Anthropology, and his thesis was entitled, “The Black Church as a Revolutionary Institution.” Rev. Sanders’ professional life also began at Wesleyan, as Co-Director of the African American Institute, and he is a former member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees. He has done graduate study at Yale University Divinity School and as a special student at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. The opportunity to travel extensively throughout Europe and Africa was afforded Rev. Sanders as one of the first fellows of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation.
For eighteen years, Rev. Sanders served as Pastoral Counselor for the Meharry Medical College Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was responsible for the spiritual component of all programs. This work was primarily built around the conducting of group and individual therapy sessions. Also in Nashville, Rev. Sanders has served as Director of the Southern Prison Ministry, and as the Dean of the Chapel at Fisk University.
Rev. Sanders holds life membership in the NAACP, and is a member of the Interdenominational Ministers’ Fellowship (former President). He is a member of the Alcohol and Drug Council of Middle Tennessee, and has served as a Commissioner for the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. He is past Chairperson of the Ryan White Community AIDS Partnership, and is still an active member of the consortium. He was appointed to the CDC Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention during the Clinton Administration and served five years on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS during the Bush Administration. He also served as co-chair of the National Syphilis Elimination Working Group and is currently involved with the Obama Administration White House Office on AIDS in implementing the National AIDS Strategy. Rev. Sanders was a presenter at the World AIDS Conferences in Geneva, Switzerland, Durban, South Africa and Toronto, Canada, as well as speaking regularly at other forums and conferences throughout the United States and around the world. Rev. Sanders serves on the Boards of Directors of the Black AIDS Institute, The AIDS Institute, The National Minority AIDS Council, The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and The Drug Policy Alliance. He is the National Coordinator for Religious Leaders for a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy, and a former member of the National Advisory Council on Sexual Health at the National Center for Primary Care. More of his current commitments include serving on the Advisory Committee of the Rural Center for HIV/STD Prevention, and as Chair of the HIV Vaccine Trails Network Legacy Project Advisory Group, designed to increase the participation of African Americans and Latinos in HIV vaccine studies.
Also in 2002, Rev. Sanders was a candidate for Governor of the state of Tennessee, finishing third out of a field of fourteen candidates.
He is married to Atty. Denise Billye Bowers Sanders and has three children: Simunye (Edwin III), Grace Louise, and Joseph Wesley.