We realize that walking into a new church can be bewildering for even the most seasoned church-goer. Below is some basic information about what to expect on a Sunday morning at Bethesda. Recognizing that you can never really get a feel for a place until you experience it in person, we hope this will make your first visit a bit more comfortable. Remember, no one will give you odd looks if you stand when you’re supposed to sit or kneel when you’re supposed to stand!
What time are Sunday services?
Our Sunday services are held at 8:00, 9:00, and 11:00 a.m. from November through mid-May, and at 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. from mid-May through October. From October through May, we offer a service of Choral Evensong at 5:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month.
Where do I park for church?
On Sundays, free parking is available on the streets surrounding the church. During high season (when the last service is at 11:00 a.m.), cars may stay until 1:30 p.m.. During the summer (when 10:00 a.m. is the last service), cars may remain until 12:00 p.m. Handicapped parking is available on Via Bethesda and there is also a circular drive on this street for drop off, with wheelchair accessibility into the church.
How long is a typical Sunday service?
The 8:00 a.m. service does not include music and lasts 40 minutes. The 9:00 a.m. service includes a quartet of singers and lasts about 50 minutes. The 11:00 a.m. service (or 10:00 a.m. during the summer) includes a full choir and generally runs for an hour and ten minutes.
How should I dress?
First of all, please know that however you dress, you will always be welcome at Bethesda. Generally people do dress up a bit — you’ll see many in jackets and ties or dresses (sometimes even hats!). But there is no dress code to worship with us, and things tend to be more casual in the summer.
What about my children?
While children are always welcome to join us for worship (we don’t mind noise!), we offer nursery care during the 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. services (or 10:00 a.m. service during the summer). Children’s Chapel is held in the Parish Hall at 9:00 a.m. and Sunday School happens in the Sunday School wing at 10:00 a.m. There is no fee to participate in Sunday School and children are welcome to join at anytime throughout the year.
Must I identify myself as a newcomer?
Only if you want to! But you are more than welcome to simply come, worship, and sneak out afterwards. If you would like more information about Bethesda, you can fill out a Visitor’s Card in the pews and hand it to an usher or put it in the collection plate when it passes by. We also have Bethesda Ambassadors (identifiable by blue ribbons on their name tags) who are available before or after the service to answer any questions you may have.
I’m not an Episcopalian, may I take Communion?
All baptized Christians, regardless of age or denomination are welcome to receive communion at Bethesda. If you would prefer to receive a blessing from a priest, you can simply cross your arms over your chest at the communion rail. And if you are not baptized, and would like to have a conversation about baptism, please speak with one of the priests.
What if I physically can’t go up the steps to receive Communion?
If you would like Communion delivered to your pew, simply let an usher know and a priest will bring it to you. During the late service, we often have Communion available in the chapel (on the left side of the worship space as you face the altar), which does not involve steps.
Do I need to pay to join the church?
There is no financial requirement to participate fully in the life of our parish. All of the ministry that takes place at Bethesda, however, is made possible through the generosity of our parishioners. Each February, we do invite people to make a financial pledge to support the church in the coming year and gifts are welcome at any time. For more information about giving at Bethesda, click here.
What’s a typical Sunday schedule?
During high season (November to May), we offer three Sunday services (8, 9, and 11:00 a.m.), with an Adult Forum at 10:00 a.m. in the Parish Hall. This is an educational opportunity that may highlight a particular ministry at Bethesda, engage with Scripture, or be a panel discussion on a spiritual topic of interest. The Forum lasts until 10:45 a.m. Coffee Hour in the Parish Hall also follows each service.
Are there any weekday services?
We hold a service of Holy Eucharist on Wednesdays at 12:05 p.m. in the chapel. This service is immediately followed by optional prayers for healing and anointing by a priest. The brief (15 minutes) service of Morning Prayer is offered at 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday in the choir stalls.