Sunday Service Will Honor Gomes

As many as 1,000 people are expected to attend a special service at Memorial Church this Sunday afternoon in honor of the Reverend Peter J. Gomes' 25 years at the University.

The service, at 4 p.m. Sunday, will culminate the "Silver Jubilee" celebration honoring Gomes, who is Plummer professor of Christian morals. The weekend-long celebration will incorporate a private dinner as well as the annual Noble Lecture series, which addresses aspects of Christian life.

President Neil L. Rudenstine and Lord St. John of Fawsley, the former leader of the British House of Commons, will speak in Gomes' honor at the private dinner, to be held in Adolphus Busch Hall.

Gomes, a native Bostonian, graduated from the Divinity School in 1968 and returned as acting minister of Memorial Church two years later. In 1974, he became Minister in Memorial Church and was named to an endowed chair.

In 1979, he was named one of the seven "best preachers" in America by Time Magazine and has since spoken at the inaugurations of two United States presidents. Gomes currently teaches at the Divinity School.


"Under Reverend Gomes, Memorial Church has become more of an intellectual center within the University," Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said in a telephone interview yesterday. "It's a place where you'd expect to hear great preaching but also serious theological discussions. [This weekend] we hope both are represented."

Epps, who is the chair of the committee which organized the celebration, said the highlight of the weekend will be Sunday's "Thanksgiving for a Ministry" service.

The service will feature the premiere of an evensong composition entitled "The Harvard Service," performed by the University Choir and a sermon by Lord Runcie of Cuddesdon, former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Rev. Charles Adams, senior pastor of Detroit's Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, will give the first of three William Belden Noble lectures Friday at 8 p.m. at Memorial Church.

The Noble lectures, established in 1898, seek to " the students of Harvard University the joy of service for Christ and humanity," according to the bequest by which they were established. In the past, the lectures have been given annually by luminaries including Theodore Roosevelt class of 1880 and Eugene McCarthy.

This year the Church scheduled the lectures to coincide with the Jubilee. Gomes chose this year's lecture topic, "Preaching and the University: Speaking the Lord's Song in a Strange Land." For the first time, the lectures will be delivered by three speakers. There is normally one speaker.

Gomes has served on many Harvard committees and has exerted leadership on racial issues, Epps said. Gomes chaired the 1981 "Gomes Committee" which proposed the creation of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations.

"He helps guide us, providing wisdom on matters both spiritual and secular and is always welcome on the councils of the University," Epps said. "He is contemporary in his preaching and courageous in speaking out on matters of race and tolerance."

Sarah L. Thomas '98, who attends services at the Memorial Church on Sundays and took a class on the interpretation of Scripture taught by Gomes, said Gomes is the best public speaker she has ever heard.

"Gomes articulates very well and always has profound points to make," she said.

Thomas said that Gomes is also accessible to students, inviting those in his class to dinners at his own home.

"My general impression is that he's a principal player in the University because not only is he a leader in terms of the religious organization and as a professor, but also in terms of his prestige, his overall knowledge and his intelligence," she said

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