Bishop King James Underwood
King James Underwood, Sr. was born to Sarah Parson Underwood and Judge Underwood on April 24, 1938. He is the 9th of 10 siblings from Pantherburn, Mississippi. King James came to Urbana when he was roughly seven years old to live with his sister, Mrs. Rosetta Williams, her husband, Ike Williams, and their family. He worked full-time while completing high school in Urbana. Other than the time he spent in the United States Navy, he has lived in Urbana-Champaign.
He has received a certificate from Illinois Institute of Technology, a B.A. in Theology, a B.A. in Rehabilitation Counseling, an M.A. in Religious Education, a Doctorate of Ministry, and a Doctorate of Divinity (Honorary).
Bishop King James has been employed at the University of Illinois’ Illini Union and Housing Division. He has also worked as General and Sub-Building Contractor, renovating homes and churches. Under this position, he built the New Free Will Baptist Church. In addition, he has been employed at Alloy Engineering and Casting Company.
King James has kept very active in the community and within the church. He has served as Spiritual Counselor and Advisor to Danville Correctional Center at Champaign County Jail, University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University, and Indiana University student outreach. He has been active in Boy Scouts, the Urban League of Champaign County, the NAACP, Citizens Concerned with Quality Education, Ministerial Alliance of Champaign-Urbana and Vicinity, Rainbow Push Coalition Advisory Board of Champaign County, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Advocacy for Justice Committee, and Empty Tomb. He has benefited the community spiritually, culturally and financially by sponsoring Free Will Baptist District’s Regional and Youth Conferences.
By mayoral proclamation, "Bishop King James Underwood Day" has been established in Urbana, Illinois.