2013-05-31 / Local News

Book on Dr. J.W. Sanders being released at dinner gala Saturday

By JOE L. HUGHES II
Ledger Staff Writer

A life devoted to the Lord’s work, Dr. J.W. Sanders Sr. often spoke of his wish to drift into his heavenly father’s presence during a sermon, trading his earthly love of serving God’s people for an eternity with Him.

“There were times he would preach four times on a single Sunday,” said Dr. Sanders’ widow, Rubye. “He just loved preaching God’s word, teaching discipline and doing things the right way.”

Though unable to fulfill that particular desire, the renowned local pastor remains at the pulpit years after his death, a legacy of love that continues the cycle of giving to countless others.

Keeping future generations in mind while fighting for his own life, Dr. Sanders began work on his final project, laying the groundwork for a book chronicling a life that witnessed the scars of segregation and war, but also God’s healing, protective touch.

“I don’t know how much more time God is going to give me to do His work here,” Dr. Sanders said in a phone conversation with author Toschia Moffet. “… Because we must also record our history right here in Gaffney, S.C., during some of the most turbulent years, also. I’ve been a minister for 61 years and like Rev. (Richard) Allen, Dr. Benjamin Mays, Rev. Richard Abernathy and (Dr. Martin Luther) King. I’ve experienced a lot of joy, pain, heartbreak, and special times with my people and I want to share all of that with the world.”

All will have the opportunity to peer into the life of Dr. Sanders beginning this weekend, his life providing subject matter for the book “The Spiritual Journey of a Legend: The Life of Dr. James W. Sanders, Sr.” It will be released during a dinner gala Saturday night at Bethel Baptist Church banquet hall.

“We are very excited to have the book coming out, and not just because it provides many details about my family and our existence,” said his son, Dr. J.W. Sanders Jr. “This is an actual historical document, that provides picture about our church, the world, our nation, South Carolina, and Gaffney in particular.”

A process which began in 2008, Moffett said her research led her back to Dr. Sanders Sr.’s roots in Union County, and particularly the legacy of his former instructor, Dr. A.A. Sims.

“My research showed that Mr. Sims was an astute academic, telling parents that ‘if you give me six months with your children, they will never pick cotton again’,” she said. “They never did … some of not only South Carolina’s brightest young men and women came directly or indirectly from Union County.”

Taking Dr. Sims’ words to heart, Sanders did what he could to impact the communities for which he served.

In his lifetime, Sanders was named chairman of the Regional Agency on Aging, which covered six Upstate counties, and was appointed by Gov. Mark Sanford to the D.C. Public Service Authority’s Board of Directors. He was also recognized as one of the nation’s top Black leaders on several occasions in the “Who’s Who in America” publication, and was presented the state’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto.

But his biggest contribution came in the walls of his own home, where trust and faith in the Lord was illustrated in word and deed.

“(Dr. Sanders) showed in spite of extreme circumstances, he was able to persevere because of his faith in the Lord,” said Rubye Sanders. “Faith molded him to always trust in the Lord and trust Him despite what was going on in the world. God had brought him through being poor and through racism, and by no means was going to step away from his hand.”

The dinner gala will begin at 6 p.m. For more information, call Moffett at (254) 371-9898, or Bethel Baptist Church at (864) 489-7515.

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