Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians, the founder/editor of Whosoever, a website for GLBT Christians, and currently serves as pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C.
A regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and The Guardian, Rev. Chellew-Hodge was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in 2003 and holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She also trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.
The last of five children born to a Southern Baptist minister and his wife, Rev. Chellew-Hodge felt God’s call on her life from as early as she can remember. The Greensboro, N.C. native always knew that God wanted her to minister to others in some way, but being raised in the Southern Baptist church, her options were limited. Those options were further limited when she came out as a lesbian at age 16.
When she was 17 she began a career in journalism after being offered an opportunity to work at a radio station in Buford, Georgia where she spent much of her childhood. Her journalism career spanned nearly 20 years and included jobs at several Atlanta radio and television stations including WGST radio and CNN.
In 1996, she combined her journalism skills and that persistent call from God to serve and founded Whosoever, the first website dedicated exclusively to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians. It provides inspiration, guidance and information and explores many topics of faith from the GLBT perspective including grace, spiritual self-defense, loving one’s enemies and living a life of integrity.
Whosoever brought up new questions for Rev. Chellew-Hodge about her spiritual walk as a lesbian and a Christian – and visitors to the website challenged her to explain how one could be both gay and Christian. This led her to enter seminary in 1998 to deepen her own understanding of the Christian faith and how it intersected with her sexuality. She received her Master of Theological Studies degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 2002.
Despite the website and the degree, God continued to call Rev. Chellew-Hodge deeper into ministry. She answered that call and was ordained as a minister of the gospel on December 7, 2003 by Gentle Spirit Christian Church.
She and her partner Wanda moved to South Carolina in January 2003 and searched for ways to serve God in a new state. The first church they attended was MCC Columbia (now Garden of Grace UCC), and they were so impressed with the warmth and love they received from the congregation, they decided to make it their church home. Rev. Chellew-Hodge was made assistant pastor in July 2004 and associate pastor in 2007. Later she helped found Jubilee! Circle, where she is now pastor, as an extension of Garden of Grace.
Bulletproof Faith, her first book, was published by Jossey-Bass in September 2008. She has since published a free 30-page e-book, Be Bulletproof: How to Defend Your Faith, Love Your Enemies, and Finally Make Peace with the Bible, that features the first article written on the idea of spiritual self-defense that later became Bulletproof Faith.
She and Wanda live in Camden, S.C., with their furry children – the dogs – Loki, Sadie, Jack, and Bandit and the cats – George and Xena.