The Rev. Dr. Sanford “Sandy” Brown is a dad, pilgrim walker, author, activist and United Methodist pastor. Born in 1957 in Lancaster, California, Sandy moved with his family to Seattle in 1965. In 1978 he graduated in Medieval History from the University of Washington and in 1982 earned an M.Div. from Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University. During his first two pastorates, the Fall City United Methodist Church and the Lake Washington United ethodist Church, Sandy became dad to two boys, Matthew and Luke. He also served the community as a school board member of the Lake Washington School District, volunteered as co-host of a religious affairs talk show on KING-TV, and led his congregations in major building programs.
Moving to Wenatchee in 1992, Sandy led the congregation to growth after its beloved senior pastor, Mary Ann Swenson, was elected bishop. Sandy was active in the local community again, working on labor and immigration issues and fighting against corruption among local politicians. During his time in Wenatchee, Sandy returned to school part-time and graduated in 1997 with a D.Min. degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.
In 2001 Sandy returned to the Puget Sound Area as Executive Director of Everett’s Deaconess Children’s Services. In 2003 he was elected as Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, one of the largest ecumenical agencies in the U.S. At the Church Council he led initiatives on homelessness and Middle East peace. In 2008, at the request of Bishop Ed Paup, he returned to the parish to lead Seattle First United Methodist Church in completion of its property sale, relocation and the building of its new $24 million building.
At First Church, Sandy was outspoken in support of marriage equality and full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the United Methodist Church. After the Sandy Hook shootings he was instrumental in the passage of I-594 (universal background checks on gun purchases) and was founding president of the Center of Gun Responsibility. He continues to serve as an officer of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, its successor organization, which is sponsoring the I-1491 gun violence prevention measure for placement on the November 2016 ballot. In 2015 he came in second place in the election for a seat on the Seattle City Council.
In 2008 Sandy took his first walk on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain and since then has walked over 2,100 miles on pilgrim trails in Spain and Italy. In 2015, Cicerone Press published his guidebook, The Way of St Francis: From Florence to Assisi and Rome, with a second edition planned for 2017. He is a Rick Steves travel speaker, advises pilgrim walkers, and leads walking pilgrimages in Italy. He blogs his walking adventures at www.caminoist.org.
Sandy’s eldest son, Matt, is a financial analyst and lives in Portland while son, Luke, is a musician and lives in Seattle. Sandy and his wife, Theresa Elliot, live in Edmonds.