Colonel Sanders Knew More than Chicken

The likeness of “Colonel Sanders” is well known around the world, and Southern Seminary has an important connection with the Colonel’s legacy.

At the time of his death, Harland D. Sanders and his wife Claudia held membership with the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Shelbyville, Kentucky. At Claudia’s request, Southern Seminary’s Alumni Memorial Chapel hosted Sanders’ funeral service on Dec. 20, 1980. The Colonel’s funeral hosted 1,200 prestigious friends and dignitaries, including Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown.. Pastor James Lee Collins Jr. of the Shelbyville church read New Testament passages on the resurrection and said of Sanders:

“Although we have experienced a great loss, the Colonel . . . would not have us begin this service without joy and praise to God, therefore if the Colonel himself could choose the hymn that we would celebrate his life with, we feel very sure that it would be ‘Joy to the World.’ . . . The Colonel, as all of us should, gave God the glory for all his success and accomplishments.”

In accordance with Sanders’ wish, singer Pat Boone participated in the service and performed renditions of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “He Touched Me.” Additional Scripture readings and the primary meditation were delivered by two of Sanders’ retired pastors, J. Edward Cayce and John S. Chambers.

The audio and official program from Colonel Sanders’ funeral service in Alumni Chapel can be downloaded at

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