The Reverend Peter J. Gomes Dies at 68

Memorial Church leader felled by heart ailments, stroke

Reverend Peter J. Gomes

On March 10, the University announced that a memorial service celebrating the life and ministry of Reverend Gomes will be held in Memorial Church on April 6 at 11 a.m. All are welcome to attend. The service will also be broadcast live on WHRB (95.3 FM), which provides live Internet streaming.


The service will be broadcast live on Harvard’s radio station, WHRB 95.3 FM. For those outside the Cambridge area, WHRB provides live Internetstreaming.

The Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer professor of Christian morals and Pusey minister in the Memorial Church, died Monday evening at age 68. As reported, he had suffered a heart attack and stroke last December 10 (he had had a pacemaker implanted in 2009), and was in a rehabilitation hospital.

Read the  New York Times and the Boston Globe obituaries. The Harvard Crimson report on the death cited an aneurysm and subsequent heart attack as the cause of death.

Gomes was perhaps most widely known to the Harvard community for his role in offering the benediction at Commencement, one of the many ceremonies and traditions of the University that he loved and celebrated. He was the bestselling author of books on the Bible, and bridged the political and cultural spectrum—a black Baptist preacher who gave the benediction at Ronald Reagan’s second presidential inaugural and who attracted much attention by revealing that he was gay in 1991 (see Andrew Tobias’s “Gay Like Me” from the January-February 1998 Harvard Magazine).

For Boston Globe coverage of the memorial service for Reverend Gomes in his hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts, on March 8, see here.



On March 10, the University announced that Wendel W. Meyer, a former Gomes colleague, would become acting Pusey minister in the Memorial Church immediately, and served during the search for a permanent successor.

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