Architectural detail of window arches on Old South Church in Boston

News & Announcements

Old South Church Blesses Marathon Athletes on Palm Sunday

Old South Church in Boston salutes the Boston Marathon, one of the oldest and greatest races in the world. The blue and gold flags flying from the church’s Boylston and Dartmouth Street facades located near the Finish Line are a salute to the race, to the athletes, and to the international spirit of sport. The Boston Marathon brings together people from across the globe in a peaceful competition that celebrates individual achievement without regard to class or caste.


On April 14th – Palm Sunday – at two identical services at 9am and 11am, Senior Minister Nancy S. Taylor will perform the “Blessing of the Athletes”, a traditional act of blessing in which we ask that the athletes be kept safe from harm or injury, exercise respect for each other, and find the stamina to endure the competition. The blessing features these words from the Prophet Isaiah: “May you run and not grow weary, walk and not faint”. The service includes a stirring rendition of “Highland Cathedral” for bagpipes, organ and drum.


As the first athletes turn onto Boylston Street on Monday, April 15th, Old South’s Great Bell will announce their approach and peal the four winners across the finish line with pomp and ceremony.


At 2:49 p.m. on April 15th – the 6th anniversary of the bombs that exploded near the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon – Old South member and survivor of the 2013 bombings, Tom Ralston, will toll the Great Tower Bell in memory of those who perished and in honor of the survivors.



May 12, 1669 was the first gathering of Old South. In the 350 years since, we've taken bold stances and pursued justice and mercy. Benjamin Franklin was baptized at Old South. Samuel Adams, a leader of the church and one of the Sons of Liberty, ignited the Boston Tea Party from our Meeting House. Another Old Southere, Samuel Sewell, wrote the first anti-slavery tract in North America. Phillis Wheatley, America’s first publish black poetess, was a member. Today Old South is a diverse, lively and welcoming urban congregation.

On May 12th, 2019, we will hold a family-friendly ceremony and party on our 350th birthday. The event will take place at Old South Church – 645 Boylston St., Boston. The schedule of events for the day includes:

  • 11:00am Festival Anniversary Worship Service
  • 12:30pm Ceremony: Heraldic trumpets, dignitaries, an interfaith blessing.
  •  1:00pm 350th Birthday Party: Ice cream and cupcakes, magician, games, reenactors, and dance music.
  • 2:30pm Finale: Pealing of the Tower Bell.