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Merrimack Valley

December 22, 2012

Haverhill Rev. James Gustafson rewrites Psalms as tweets


Gustafson said he decided to publish the book in a spiral-bound format so readers can lay the book flat and write their own thoughts on the lines beneath the tweeted psalm.

He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Wheaton College, a master’s degree from Fuller Seminary and a doctorate in philosophy from Boston University.

Gustafson moved to Haverhill in 1959 and started ministering part-time at West Congregational Church. He served as minister at the church from 1959 to 1970 and as associate from 1978 to 2000. He continues to preach at the church when needed and remains the church organist.

In addition to West Congregational, he has been conducting short-term missions to the Rus-Rus tribe in Honduras. He has also traveled to India and Kenya to teach philosophy for the past 20 years.

He has blogged about his travels to Kenya and India and published them in the book “Outta My Mind.” The statue of “The Thinker” is on the cover.

Gustafson used his vast research, knowledge of the church and reminiscences from longtime members to write “Wheat & Weeds in a Country Parish: The History of West Congregational Church.” The 244-page book recounts the church’s 275 years. He also wrote the textbook, “The Quest for Truth — an Introduction to Philosophy,” currently in its fifth edition

Gustafson said he received two calls from God to join the ministry. The first came while his mother was driving from Raymond, N.H. back to Boston and he looked up at the steeple of the Congregational Church. He was sitting in philosophy class at Wheaton College when he felt God calling him to serve as a teacher in secular colleges.

He taught at the former White Pines College, which later became Chester College, Chester, N.H. He has been teaching at Northern Essex Community College for the past 31 years where he is now an adjunct professor of philosophy and religion. For the past 10 years, he has been teaching an online introduction to philosophy of world religion at the Haverhill school.

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