• Welcome
  • What to Expect
  • Children & Youth
  • Worship Schedule
  • Directions
  • Contact
  • Greetings,

    Welcome to the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, a community of people from all walks of life discovering the joy of knowing and following Jesus Christ. We gather on Sundays to hear the sacred stories of God’s love and to be spiritually nourished in sharing Holy Communion. Then, inspired by our fellowship, we strive to make God's love a living reality in our lives every day. At Bethesda, Sunday is the high point of the week. So, look around our web site. Then come and join us on a Sunday morning soon.

    Peace, The Rev. James Harlan, Rector

  • Every Sunday is where the life begins at Bethesda. We celebrate the Holy Eucharist with glorious liturgy and music. We also celebrate Holy Eucharist during the week and offer a healing service on Wednesdays. All baptized Christians are invited to participate in the Holy Eucharist when visiting Bethesda-by-the-Sea. It is not necessary to be a member of the Episcopal Church in order to receive Holy Communion. Persons who have not been baptized are welcome to come to the altar rail and kneel to receive a blessing. Cross your arms on your chest as a sign that you will not receive Communion. Click here for our service schedule.


  • FROM I-95

    Take the Okeechobee Blvd East exit (70). Travel East on Okeechobee Blvd to the Intracoastal Waterway. Cross over the Intracoastal Waterway, and continue going East to the second light (South County Road). Turn North (left) onto South County Road, and travel 1/2 mile. The church will be on the Right.


    Click here and scroll to Directions and Parking Information.

  • Having the faith of a child

    Children and youth bring such wonderful life and energy to our community. Bethesda offers a warm welcome to every child, whether parents prefer to bring their children into the worship service, or put them in the special children's worship (when available), or let them enjoy the nursery. We strive to create a place where even our littlest members know that God loves them, where all of us can grow in our faith, and where parents can find their own sense of peace and support.



  • God is Love

    Our worship is formal, intimate, transcendent, reflective, fun, and inspiring. As we celebrate our life together, we focus on God's love for each and every person and encourage one another to seek that loving presence of God. We have communion as an integral part of every service where we share together in a simple meal of bread and wine. While our worship may not be entirely familiar, we encourage everyone to join in as they are comfortable. Read more here.


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Our Parish Impact

We are mid-way through this year of worship, service and learning together. I would like to give you a sampling of the impact of this parish, on what we are doing for one another, and on what we are doing to serve our wider community. Since January we have shared:more...

My Sabbatical

As you all know by now, I will be on sabbatical from August through December of this year. The term sabbatical is derived from the biblical Sabbath. A ministry sabbatical is often defined as a period of time when ministry leaders and congregations set aside the leader’s normal responsibilities for the purpose of rest and renewal, with the hope of sustained excellence in ministry; it is not an extended vacation nor is it an academic sabbatical that normally involves extensive study. A ministry sabbatical is a release from the routine demand for physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual energy.more...


Israelis know what time the sun goes down each Friday. They know because the Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. Families plan and cook their Sabbath dinner before that time. They get their errands done and get to their Sabbath destination because the Sabbath is for rest. In Israel, busses do not run, most businesses close, and the rhythm of life completely changes for those 24 hours each week. They don’t answer their phones, check their e-mail, or watch the ball game. They turn off. They stop. They rest.more...

Here’s the church, here’s the steeple...

Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the door, and here’s all the people. I remember my grandmother saying this while weaving her fingers together and folding them into her hands with a smile. Then she would point her two index fingers up to make a steeple and then turn her hands outward to expose all her fingers as she finished the sentence. I thought it was hysterical as a toddler. And I suppose someone might have thought it was a good way to teach something important.more...


Another successful mission trip to Our Little Roses Orphanage for Girls in Honduras! We had a wonderful mission team, perfect weather, and through the grace of God we accomplished our goals and returned safely. more...


I love board games. I love all kinds of games really—video games, sports games, icebreaker games—but I especially love board games. When I was a kid I was infatuated with Monopoly. I don’t know why. It certainly wasn’t a quick game to play. It usually ended with everyone being totally frustrated. It was outdated and plodding and required math skills that weren’t always obvious to a 10 year old. Try reading those instructions on reclaiming mortgaged property from the bank through the eyes of a pre-teen and they look a lot like the tax code. But if anyone ever asked me what game I wanted to play, I would immediately say, “Monopoly, and I want to be the banker. . . and I’m the dog.” There comes a point in a game of Monopoly where you’ve been around the board a few times buying up smaller property, maybe some trains or a utility, perhaps a brief stint in jail, when you’ll land on an un-owned Boardwalk, the best property in the game. Your money is stretched pretty thin. There’s not a high likelihood that anyone else will land on this property forcing them to pay you rent. There’s little advantage to be gained by sinking more cash into diminishing returns. And yet—it’s Boardwalk. It’s the top of the line. You can’t just pass up the chance to buy Boardwalk! Only a complete novice to the game would do that. And so you roll the dice, you gamble on yet another piece of property and pray that it will yield a windfall later on. In the end, it’s just too tempting. more...

Rationale or Rationalization: An Opportunity to be Honest

I admit that I think the Church has spent far too much energy on trying to build a mission around conforming behavior. We all have experienced or witnessed communities dictating to members how to dress, how to speak, how to behave in any situation, and what situations to avoid all together. Some of us likely grew up in churches or other religious communities in which we or our families were overly concerned about what we were supposed to do—what the community expected of us. And we or people we knew probably believed that following all the rules was going to get them “stars in their crowns” or a ticket to heaven.more...

Deepen your spiritual life in Lent

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 13. The Church invites us to find ways during Lent to deepen our spiritual life and our concern for the world around us. One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is to make some space—both in our schedules and in our hearts—to pray. So, as a way to invite each of us to think about how we pray, I offer some brief thoughts about characteristics of prayer that have helped me be more open to the loving presence of God in my life.more...

Lenten Worship at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea

Ash Wednesday we begin the holy season of Lent. The Church has, from very early on, called people to a time of fasting to prepare for the paschal feast at Easter. Over time this fast became fixed at forty days. So, we begin this forty-day season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, and draw it to an end with our Holy Week celebrations. Fasting and penitence have always been Christian practices intended, not as means of punishment, but as means of drawing us into a deeper knowledge of the life-changing meaning of the paschal mystery: Christ’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection. This season offers such a profound opportunity to vary and rethink the rhythm of our daily individual and weekly common life in which we can discover new dimensions of our relationships with God, one another, and the world, and in which we can know more clearly the life we have been given by God in Christ.more...

Marks 125th Anniversary in 2014

In 1789 the Episcopal Church separated formally from the Church of England and no longer would its clergy be required to accept the supremacy of the British crown. A revised version of the Book of Common Prayer was produced in the same year. more...