Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church has a new rector at last:

After a year of searching, The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea has a new rector.

Tapped by the search committee, the Rev. James R. Harlan of Denver has accepted the job and will begin work the second week of June. His first Sunday in the pulpit will be June 19.

Harlan, 45, was born and raised in Colorado and has lived there most of his life. He will succeed the Rev. Ralph “Hap” R. Warren Jr., who retired in April 2009 after 27 years at Bethesda.

For those of us who follow the saga of the Anglican-Episcopal divide, the Diocese of Colorado has been the scene of the unfortunate career of the Rev. Don Armstrong, who led his congregation out of the Episcopal Church only to end up pleading guilty to misdemeanor theft of funds.

For his part Harlan chaired a committee appointed by Bishop Rob O’Neill aimed at heading off division:

The Rev. James Harlan of Denver, who chaired an O’Neill-appointed task force aimed at heading off divides in Colorado, dismissed such talk.

“One of Bishop O’Neill’s basic passions and values is to realize the true communion we all have in Christ, not to do things to divide,” said Harlan, of the Church of the Ascension in Denver.  Harlan said while he knows nothing about the Armstrong situation, he hopes the diocese will focus not on national tension but on working together.

Harlan will be in very revisionist territory in the realm of Bishop Leo Frade, whose stance on same sex civil marriage has been the subject of this blog.

One warning: if he opts to enrol his daughter Hannah in Palm Beach Day Academy, she (and her parents) are in for a culture shock.  Trust me.  In reality, they’ll find the “Palm Beach experience” a very different way of living.