This data was last updated on 17 September 2014.
History: King's Chapel is an independent church--Anglican in liturgy, congregational in polity, and Unitarian Universalist Christian in theology. Founded in 1686, the chapel was the first Anglican church in New England. The church’s construction was not appreciated by Puritans, who had tried to leave Anglicanism behind in the Old World. Following the American Revolution, King’s Chapel’s congregation called Harvard Divinity School-educated James Freeman as its minister. Freeman, who had been influenced by Unitarian theology, revised the chapel's Anglican Book of Common Prayer to reflect Unitarian beliefs. And thus in 1787, King's Chapel became the first Unitarian church in America--and one of the few churches to come to Unitarianism from Anglicanism, rather than Congregationalism.
Description: The chapel building, which opened for worship in 1754, is generally considered the finest Georgian church building in America. A stop on Boston's Freedom Trail, King's Chapel and its adjacent cemetery welcome over 100,000 visitors each year. While there are many architectural features of interest, perhaps most remarkable is the fact that, despite being more than 250 years old, the interior has been maintained as is - neither renovated nor replaced over time. In the 1950s, a residential home on Beacon St. was bought and converted into a Parish House, which is now the heart of social and ministerial activities at King’s Chapel. A fifteen-minute walk from the Chapel, the House contains all administrative offices, the Sunday school rooms, a small chapel and meeting areas.
Demographics: King’s Chapel has a number of young families and some multi-generational ones. There are many elderly members and almost no students. The majority of the Chapel’s members live in or close to Boston, but it draws from the suburbs as well. Many members are Unitarians who are looking for a more Christian or theistic church than other UU alternatives in the area.
Activities and Schedule: Congregants are shielded from the tour group bustle since the Chapel is off-limits for tourists during worship times and special events. Services are held on Sundays and Wednesdays. Music Program events are also very popular at the Church. The concert and Tuesday afternoon recital series features music ranging from spirituals to Japanese to classical. For more information, please see the Chapel's website. The congregation sponsors various social justice causes --including aid to a sister church in Romania, a program for homeless women, and a meals program for the needy. Religious education is a top priority. There are Sunday School classes for children and youth. Other activities include a Christmas pageant, Easter egg hunt and annual Pet Blessing. The church also has a Coming of Age program where grade eight students meet with a mentor for 16 weeks. King’s Chapel’s Adult Education program offers retreats, a Morning Bible Study, Shakespeare Reading Nights, and monthly Movie Nights. For programming updates check the King's Chapel website.
Affiliations: King’s Chapel was a founding congregation of the Benevolent Fraternity of Unitarian Churches in the 1830s. This organization continues today as the UU Urban Ministry, which King’s Chapel supports. Ministers and members are also active in denominational affairs and King’s Chapel is a partner church of the Massachusetts Bible Society .