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  • 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

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  • 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.

     

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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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mentoring program at Bethesda

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mentoring program at Bethesda

Here in Nova Scotia, I was reading the Sunday Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper the other week when I was reminded of the 2005 Kenyon College commencement speech delivered by the prodigious writer David Foster Wallace. The beginning of the speech opens with a short story that goes like this, “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes ‘What the hell is water?’ “

The commencement speech goes on for a while about going to the grocery store on a busy Friday night, being hassled, too few clerks, etc. To save space, I won’t go into the whole story, but if you’ve never read it I encourage you to look it up on the web under the title, “What is Water?” However, let’s get back to my point which is while we’re all very busy working, raising families or enjoying the fruits of our labors in whatever form we take them there are moments of pure joy we miss experiencing if we don’t live our lives compassionately which was the point of Wallace’s commencement speech. Life is the sum of more parts than just our electronic gadgets, sports, travels, etc. and the more we live outside of ourselves, the richer our tapestries become. For example, our Outreach Education committee’s mentors have two students at Lake Worth Community High School entering their senior year both of which are awesome for the same and different reasons.

If you’ve ever been to a Bethesda Life presentation when I was the Outreach presenter, you’ll remember my argument that kids who are very bright but born poor need mentoring into college because they don’t have the same opportunities growing up as some of their more entitled peers do. My argument continues that once they’re in their professional careers, these same students may work on a project that answers a key question facing our world. Even if they don’t discover a cure or file a patent, they will be aiding our economy by buying a home, opening a bank account, saving for their retirement—all items which help to propel our economy forward. However, if we fail to give these very bright children the benefits of mentoring, they may drop out of school, work menial labor jobs, or tap into social services and these dismal results don’t propel our economy forward.

The two seniors mentioned above are examples of tenacity, fortitude, drive, and inward beauty. They attend Lake Worth Community High School where 75% of students receive free lunch and 85% of the students are from minority families. One struggled as a child from hunger because there was so little food in the house that she spent many nights wishing it was morning so she could go to school just to eat. Not to study and learn, but simply to eat. Not hungry like grab some celery sticks between lunch and dinner, but hunger we’ve never known. The other can count on one hand the number of Christmas presents he has ever received—one, a gift from a former teacher—and he’ll be 18 in December. But do these children spend their time whining and wallowing in their predicaments, focusing their attention on what little they have and what more their mentors might have? Absolutely not! In fact, although we knew these children lived in desperation, they never mentioned these shortages until they both had to write two scholarship essays; one about their next five years and the other about what challenges did poverty force them to face as children. Then, we as mentors were humbled. Humbled by their strength, grace, and drive to change their lives and how we are blessed to watch it happen, to be a part of something far larger than ourselves, and hoping that what we can offer them will be enough.

One of the students plans to study for her BSN in Nursing in-state to be near her family. She aspires to be a NICU nurse working with young families. She volunteers every summer and on school weekends at Bethesda Memorial Hospital gaining valuable experience. Of course that is when she’s not working at her part-time job to provide needed money for the family. The mentoring team is aiding her in applying to UF, FSU, FIU, and FAU. The other student receives emails daily from MIT, Cornell, and Harvard and dozens of others each vying for more and more attention during this frantic Fall semester of his senior year because his ACT/SAT scores are so high. He’s on the varsity football and baseball teams and hopes to play collegiate baseball. The mentoring team is assisting him in applying to Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, MIT, University of Notre Dame, RPI, Washington University at St. Louis, and UF while also applying for scholarships. He wants to get his degree in Computer Engineering and work for Microsoft or NASA.  

Each of the Bethesda mentors brings something different to the mentoring table. Tanner Rose and Sebastian Kent are lovers of language and history enriching the students with a breadth of knowledge they’ve never had access to before. Poverty makes their worlds so small. Susan Barnhart, Barbara Callahan, JoAnn Sears, and Lee Daniels are passing on their love of reading and discussing books with students to improve their vocabulary, always in need of help in underprivileged children. In the meantime, they’re all volunteering their time as scholarship and college essay editors. I volunteer as the administrator; scheduling tutoring sessions, signing the student’s up for their ACT and SAT examinations, researching scholarships, watching out for deadlines, and overall cheer leader. This is an exciting time for all of us; we’re sitting in the wings watching these two bright abjectly poor kids realize their dream that we in Bethesda Outreach envisaged and prayed for—if we just came together for something outside of ourselves.

While we have six students in our mentoring program ranging from a college freshman to a 9th grader, I’ve written about these two students because as seniors so much is going on in their lives right now.  

And now I offer my grateful thanks to all of our Bethesda mentors for wanting to enrich their tapestries of life through unselfish acts of kindness with high school students. If you’d like to participate, please contact Susan Barnhart at Outreach@bbts.org. Thank you.  

Pat Reichenbacher, Chair of the Outreach Committee 

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