John Emerson Roberts was born in 1853 in Fredonia,
Ohio, the son of a Baptist minister. His principal and most
important edication was received at Shurtleff College in Upper Alton,
Ill., from which institution he was graduated in 1878 with the degree
of D.D. His reputation for eloquence and ability, already won,
soon secured him a position with the Baptist Church in Carrollton,
Ill., where he remained until 1881. He then accepted a call from
the First Baptist Church of Kansas City, and here he gained new
laurels by his eloquence. In 1884 he found that he could no
longer reconcile himself to orthodox teachings, and resigning his
pastorate, accepted a call from a Unitarian Church in Grand Rapids,
In 1887 he returned to Kansas City to take
charge of All Souls' Unitarian Church, and in this position it seemed
that he had reached the zenith of his fame.
But even the Unitarian Church was too narrow
for his soaring thought, and in 1897 he resigned, and, launching forth
on bold new lines, organized the Church of This World. It has
been said "there is no other church like it in this
world." It has no organization, no officers, and he
lectures, rather than sermonizes.
Dr. Roberts married Miss Edith Wilson and
they have two children.