Founders of the Massachusetts Bible Society - 1809

The Massachusetts Bible Society began on July 6, 1809 and is an ecumenical, Christian organization dedicated to promoting Biblical literacy, understanding, and dialogue. This blog lists brief biographies of our founders who gathered in the Massachusetts State House Senate Chamber on that historic day to sign the Charter founding MBS. Please visit our website:

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Location: Newton Centre, MA, United States

Thursday, August 20, 2009

But Where Was Channing?

Conspicuous by his absence is the Rev. William Ellery Channing, the most renowned Unitarian preacher of his day and one of that denomination’s most esteemed theologians.

The above biographies show that Rev. Channing’s church was represented at our founding and his brother, Francis, was also among those present. William’s presence at the next meeting just a few days later and his subsequent role at the Society’s incorporation in February 1810 show that he was fully supportive of the mission. Rev. Channing was chairman of the first Executive Committee from 1809-1818, and his eulogy by Francis Parkman would indicate he kept his MBS membership until his death in 1842.

We cannot say whether it was an oversight on the part of Dudley A. Tyng, who recorded those present, or whether some demand of his parish kept him away, but Rev. Channing is neither listed with the founders, nor mentioned in the minutes of the meeting, except by virtue of being nominated to help move the society forward in the days to come.

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