As the first black in America to serve as pastor of a white congregation, Haynes ministered to Rutland's West Parish for thirty years starting in 1783.
The illegitimate child of a black and the daughter of a socially prominent white family in Hartford, Connecticut, the five-month-old baby Lemuel was abandoned by his parents and indentured to a white family in Massachusetts. Studying Latin, Greek and theology in his twenties, and was licensed to preach in 1780.
He fell in love with a young white woman in his Connecticut congregation; she proposed to him, and they were married in 1783, producing ten children.
Middlebury College gave Haynes an honorary degree (another unprecedented event) at its second commencement in 1804. He filled pulpits in Bennington, Manchester, and Granville, New York, before his death at the age of eighty.