Event Notices

Occupational Hazards: 20 Years as Old North’s Leader

Wednesday, May 23, 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Old North Speaker Series
Occupational Hazards: 20 Years as Old North’s Leader
Speaker: The Rev. Stephen T. Ayres
Co-sponsored by the Old North Congregation
Register here

The Vicar of the Old North Church has two occupations, as spiritual leader of a North End congregation and as director of one of the most famous historical sites in the nation.  Have you ever thought about the occupational hazards involved in leading two distinct, but intertwined institutions? The Rev. Stephen Ayres is both the vicar of the Old North Church and the Executive Director of the Old North Foundation. Vicar Ayres has led thousands of worship services, preached over one thousand sermons, married nearly a hundred couples, baptized over a hundred babies, and presided over dozens of funerals.  At the same time, Vicar Ayres has helped transform the Old North Church from a brief stop on the Freedom Trail into a respected and professional historic site that teaches history and civic values to hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Questions to be addressed in the lecture include:

  • What is a vicar and what does that occupation entail?
  • How do the values inherent in a spiritual calling impact the practice of managing a historic site?
  • Given the American tradition of separation of church and state, how can one person occupy a sacred and secular calling at the same time without going crazy or at least driving his spouse crazy?

Afterwards, please join us for an outdoor reception in the Washington Courtyard while hearing about Old North’s upcoming projects.

The Rev. Stephen T. Ayres has served as Vicar of the Old North Church since 1997 and as Executive Director of the Old North Foundation since 2012. Vicar Ayres was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1980 and has served parishes in Missouri, New York, and Massachusetts. He has an undergraduate degree in Comparative Religion from Hamilton College, an M.Div. from the Episcopal Divinity School, and an MA in Urban Policy from Tufts University. While at Old North, Vicar Ayres hosted the state wide prayer service after 9/11, gave the opening prayer at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, and gave the infamous tour of the church to Sarah Palin, after which she promptly flunked her history quiz.  In the course of raising millions of dollars to preserve the Old North, Vicar Ayres led the effort to change federal preservation policy, enabling active historic houses of worship of all faiths to access federal preservation grants. He lives near the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown with his wife Lisa and son Matthew.