Voices 3: RIP Peter Gomes

For forty years, Peter Gomes was the pastor of Memorial Church at Harvard, and one of its leading African-American voices. He was a man unto himself: a conservative wearer of good suits and bow ties, a New Englander through and through, the son of a cranberry-bog worker two generations removed from slavery, a Harvard professor, a Republican (until he broke party to vote for Deval Patrick), a gay man, and a deeply believing member of the Christian community. "I am not a minority of any sort. I am a son of God." For forty years that lovely, rounded bass voice tucked it gently to the Harvard community and the wider world.

I loved not only the man, but that particular voice. Everyone else did too, and I thought Law and his father would.  I used Peter Gomes's verbal rhythms and his distinctive accent while I was thinking of what their voices would sound like.

Read Candace Chellew-Hodge's appreciation of him, then listen to a sermon by the man himself at the bottom of the page. It's a good long sermon. As he said, quoting from William Sloane Coffin, "Sermonettes make Christianettes."


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