RIP, Rev. Dr. Peter Gomes

Peter Gomes has died.  Gomes was the minister at Memorial Church at Harvard University, known for his brilliant intellect and his wonderful preaching.  He was also known for embodying the odd mix of being Christian, black, gay, and Republican.  As the Boston Globe reports,

He was the first black minister of Memorial Church and the first pastor of that church to participate in a US president’s inauguration. The Rev. Gomes also was the only gay, black, Republican, Baptist preacher most people would ever meet. Descended from slaves, he nonetheless delighted in serving as trustee emeritus of the Pilgrim Society and celebrating his hometown’s Mayflower history, a distinctly white Anglo-Saxon Protestant tradition.

Gomes came out as a gay in 1991 and later wrote about that in in several books, including his bestselling, The Good Book.  He even went comedically nose-to-nose with Stephen Colbert:


I didn’t meet Gomes or know him, but I heard him speak once. And, more importantly, I know his pastor. You see, Gomes was a life-long member of a small baptist church in Plymouth, Massachussetts, a humble parish of just a few dozen people. When the pastor went on vacation, Gomes, one of the most prominent Christian leaders in the world, would humbly take the pulpit and preach to this little collective of believers.

Peter Gomes was unique, to be sure.  But he’s the kind of public, intellectual, Christian leader whom I would like to emulate.  He fought for what he believed in, but he never lost his wit (as evidenced by the Colbert clip) nor his humility (as evidenced by his commitment to his home parish).

Requiescat in pace

  • Daniel Mann

    I don’t know much about Peter Gomes, but I trust that he was well-liked. You have to be to get where he got. However, the adoration of man often runs counter to that of God:

    • Luke 6:26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

    Gomes had maintained that the sin of Sodom was a lack of hospitality, not homosexuality or homosexual rape. An innocent mistake or a self-serving assertion? Is it that critical before God?

    • Job 42:7-8 …the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me WHAT IS RIGHT, as My servant Job has.

    This should compel us to ask ourselves, “What is #1 in my life? The truth of God or my own agenda” (Matthew 6:33)?

  • Charles

    Good God, Daniel! Let the saint rest in peace. His writings inspired and corrected thousands of folk around the world, myself included. Save your judgmental bilge for others.

  • Matt

    Rev. Gomes represents exactly the opposite of what we see in modern evangelical debate of this day. He was scholarly and a thinker of great thoughts. He brought civility to the ongoing conversations about sexuality in the church without demeaning the arguments of either side. I highly recommend seeing the documentary “For the Bible tells me so.” His commentary is central to the film and is very enlightening.

    He was not interested in garnering praise from the world at large. He had a mission to minister to the church about loving people like Jesus loved. A friend of mine attends Harvard Div. and told me about him. He had weekly teas at his home, inviting students and anyone who would come to talk and have a good time. He had an almost savant-like ability to remember names and faces. This a legacy all of us would dare to strive for, to be remembered as living and loving in the way that Jesus did.

  • Anna

    I took a class with him in 2004. He was an individual, I can say that for sure. and a great teacher and preacher.

    Apparently he became a Democrat in 2006? See the end of this NY Times Article:

  • Doug Brown

    Tony–Peter Gomes was a rock star He was a bit like a spiritual grandaddy to me. I heartily agree with your sentiments…

  • Nixon is Lord

    “Martin Luther Queen”-JFK and RFK, discussing James Baldwin