Freeman James

Freeman James, the first pastor of a Unitarian church in New England, was born in Charlestown, April 22,1759, and graduated at Harvard in 1777. His theological studies were carried on with difficulty during the war. In 1782 he was invited to officiate as reader in King's Chapel for six months, and in 1783 he was chosen pastor of the church, stipulating, however, for permission to omit the Athanasian Creed from the service. He soon began to feel doubts as to the doctrine of the Trinity, and finally preached a series of sermons to his people renouncing the doctrine. The church resolved (in 1785) to alter their liturgy and retain their pastor. Thus the first Episcopal church in New England became the first Unitarian church in America. Application was made to Bishop Provost in 1787 to ordain Mr. Freeman; but the bishop, of course, refused, and the pastor was ordained by his own people. He was a man of fine social qualities, and of excellent intellectual powers, and was very successful as pastor and preacher. He died November 14, 1835. Besides contributions to periodical literature and to the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, he published Sermons and Addresses (Boston, 1832). — Ware, Unitarian Biography, 1:143, sq.; Sprague, Annals, 8:162.

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