Gomes Is Named to New Post, Minister in Memorial Church

The Rev. Peter J. Gomes was named yesterday Minister in Memorial Church, ending a two-year vacancy in the post.

Gomes has held the job on an acting basis since his predecessor, the Rev. Charles P. Price, resigned in July 1972. The Corporation approved Gomes's appointment in a meeting on Monday, and the Overseers followed suit yesterday.

Gomes was also named Plummer Professor of Christian Morals, a chair traditionally given to Preachers to the University.

Gomes becomes the first black and the first Baptist to hold the position.

Minister in Memorial Church is a new position replacing the old post of Preacher to the University. Both the change in the title and the two-year delay in appointing a minister resulted from an extensive reappraisal of the functions of Memorial Church.


The re-examination, conducted by a committee headed by Krister Stendhal, dean of the Divinity School, recommended last November that the Memorial Church post be split into a "troika" made up of a minister, priest and rabbi.

President Bok last spring over-ruled the Stendhal committee's report and announced he would keep a single minister, saying that the religious pluralism of the University made it difficult to fairly pick three representatives from the multitude of religions represented at Harvard.

Bok said yesterday that his decision was "definitive" and that major changes in the nature of the ministry would not be considered, at least during Gomes's term.

A search committee, named by Bok, considered over 50 candidates for the Mem Church post.

Don K. Price, dean of the Kennedy School and chairman of the search committee, had arrived at "the most remarkable degree of unanimity that I've ever encountered in a personnel decision" in favor of promoting Gomes to the post permanently.