Rev. Dr. Robert P. Lawrence to speak at area men’s First Friday Club

FALL RIVER, Mass. — Rev. Dr. Robert Lawrence, pastor emeritus and former senior minister of the First Congregational Church in Fall River, will speak at the historic Fall River Area Men’s First Friday Club following a 6 p.m. Mass at St. Joseph’s Church on North Main Street in Fall River on November 7. The Mass is open to the public. Reservations for the hot meal from White’s of Westport following the Mass served in the church hall and to listen to Rev. Lawrence must be made with Daryl Gonyon at 508-672-4822.   

Lawrence is completing a 60-year ministry, having served churches in Little Compton, R.I., and Fall River. He is responsible for beginning the Pastoral Care Department at Charlton Memorial Hospital.

He also served as chaplain aboard the ocean liners Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mary II and served as chaplain for U.S. Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Lawrence championed efforts to remove more than 3,000 guns from the streets of Fall River, create the first Fall River Police K-9 Unit, and purchase public safety equipment, such as defibrillators.

In January 2014, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth announced it had received an anonymous $1.14 million donation in honor of Rev. Lawrence and his contribution to community, church, and his fellow man.

“He’s a chaplain’s chaplain,” said a fellow ordained minister. “It doesn’t matter to Bob if a person is down and out or if they are in the highest office. He’s a man for all people.”

As for why he continues with his crusade of community involvement, Lawrence recalled an episode that occurred 65 years ago. He was in a restaurant in Washington, D.C., and ordered a coffee. It was during World War II and there were rations on several items, one of which was sugar. Lawrence received one packet of sugar and asked the waitress for more.

To this day, he will never forget her response.

“She told me, ‘No. Stir up what you’ve got,”’ said Lawrence. “That really made an impact on me.”

Lawrence has been stirring things up ever since, and it’s the local community that is better because of it.

Rev. Lawrence has a special interest in autographs of prominent people from the area that have contributed to the history of the community. This will be the subject of his presentation to the Men’s First Friday Club.

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