Peter Gomes ’65 receives Benjamin Elijah Mays Medal

The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, a 1965 graduate of Bates College and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard University, received the Benjamin Elijah Mays Medal on Saturday, June 6 during Reunion Weekend at the Bates campus.

The Mays Medal, established in 1982 and first awarded to Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, a member of the Class of 1920, is conferred upon a Bates alumnus or alumna who has performed distinguished service to the larger community and the college. Past recipients include former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Edmund S. Muskie, a 1936 graduate of Bates.

Since being named by Time Magazine in 1979 as one of America’s seven most influential preachers, Gomes has remained an insistent voice of conscience, blending a conservative view of religion and morality — he is a leading authority on the Pilgrims of Plymouth — with contemporary concern for the physical and spiritual welfare of all Americans.

In his recently published best-seller The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (Morrow, 1996), Gomes reinterprets the bible as a dynamic, transforming and inclusionary work for our times. “The theme of this book is the risk and joy of the Bible: risk in that we might get it wrong, and joy in the discovery of the living Word becoming flesh,” Gomes wrote.

A native of Boston, Gomes graduated from Bates and from Harvard Divinity School. After teaching and serving as director of freshman studies at Tuskegee Institute, he arrived at Harvard in 1970 as assistant minister in the Memorial Church. Gomes has been minister at the Memorial Church since 1974, when he was appointed Plummer Professor of Christian Morals.

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