Sutherland was born November 11, 1916, in Detroit, Michigan. He received an A.B. from Miami University, an M.S. from Western Reserve University, a B.D. and an L.H.D. from Meadville Lombard Theological School, and an LL.D. from Emerson College.
He was ordained in 1945 by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Unitarian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he served from 1945 to 1954. In 1954, the congregation named him minister emeritus. Additionally, he served congregations in Hoopeston, Illinois, and Milton, and Harvard, Massachusetts. Upon retiring in 1994, the First Congregational Unitarian Church of Harvard named him minister emeritus.
Sutherland served as executive vice president of the American Unitarian Association from 1959 to 1960, and as president and dean of faculty at Meadville Lombard Theological School from 1960 to 1975.Surviving are his wife, Mary Anne Beaumont Sutherland, a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren.