Death of Peter Gomes, Minister to the Memorial Church @ Harvard at the age of 68

March 1, 2011

I had not heard until recently that Peter Gomes experienced a stroke in December and then today I received the news that he had died last night (February 28th) from complications related to the stroke.

His book, THE GOOD BOOK: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart, impacted me in ways few books have. The 8th chapter in the book is entitled "The Bible and Homosexuality: The Last Prejudice." It was his "Last Prejudice" idea that prompted me to write my RMN blog; "The Last United Methodist Church Trial".

Peter Gomes announced he was gay in November of 1991 after a student magazine published an issue condeming homosexuality. Gomes spoke to the Harvard community and said; "I am a Christian who happens as well to be gay...These realities that are unreconcilable to some, are reconciled in me by a loving God."

I became the first African American pastor of the Bryantville and West Duxbury, Massachusetts Methodist Churches in the summer of 1958. The mother of Peter Gomes who lived in nearby Plymouth, Massachusetts was a close friend of one of the white members of one of those churches. They spoke frequently and my member shared with Mrs.Gomes that although a few members were upset with having a black Pastor, most members were pleased with me as their new Pastor. The first time I spoke to Peter Gomes, he told me that the conversations between his mother and my member about my ministry, encouraged him to believe that a black minister in a predominantly white Church could be successful.

For some persons, the idea of a black minister in a predominantly white Church or a gay minister in a predominantly straight church is unreconcilable. But Peter Gomes and I knew that despite the biases and bigotry of some, reconciliation within and beyond takes place through a loving God.