• 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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The Rev. James Harlan

The Rev. James Harlan


The Rev. James R. Harlan serves as the twelfth rector of the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.

Having served in parishes in Colorado and as a Navy Chaplain all over the world, Father Harlan brings a breadth of parish leadership experience and education to his ministry at Bethesda-by-the-Sea. James has served in large and small congregations, in urban, suburban, and small-town resort congregations, each of them experiencing a time of growth and vitality under his leadership.

Alongside parish ministry, James served in Colorado on the Standing Committee, the Commission on Ministry, the diocesan Board of Examining Chaplains, the Commission on Youth Ministry, and the board of directors of Cathedral Ridge, the diocese’s camp and conference center. He also taught Liturgics and Church History at the Iliff School of Theology in the Anglican Studies program and served for many years as a reader for the General Ordination Examination for the Episcopal Church’s General Board of Examining Chaplains. In the Diocese of Southeast Florida, he currently serves as chair of the Constitution and Canons Committee, and recently concluded a term as Dean of the North Palm Beach Deanery and as a member of the Executive Board of the Diocese.

James’ passion for helping congregations grow and thrive centers on learning about and appreciating the rapidly-changing culture in which we all live. He wants Bethesda’s rich Episcopal tradition to continue to speak the love of God to all who come through the doors: by thinking creatively about programs and ministry; and by being responsive to new needs and opportunities. He loves working closely with staff and other leaders in collaborative ways that unleash everyone’s gifts for ministry.

James first felt called to be a priest in fifth grade. He grew up, the fourth of five children, in a faithful family that was always active in the Episcopal Church. As a teenager his parents responded to a call to live in a Christian community setting, and so he had as many as sixteen fellow residents in his house. He has solely focused on serving the church since the age of twenty when he became an assistant youth minister at St. John’s Cathedral in Denver.

James, Eli, his wife of 20 years, and Hannah, his 18-year-old daughter, are enjoying life in Palm Beach. James is certain that he does not miss icy sidewalks and snow tires. He loves that he can go out for a run or a bike ride almost every day of the year. He and his family have discovered that each season offers wonderful ways to enjoy south Florida. Having served in the Navy, but never on a ship, he’s hoping to take advantage of living just down the street from the ocean and get out to sea often.



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