UPDATE: The president came to pray.
A line of worshippers in Easter florals and wide-brimmed hats snaked outside the front door, waiting for searches of purses and hoping for seats. Metal detectors were on site, as were Secret Service agents in bulletproof vests. A double line of motorcycle cops parked on a side street. Traffic slowed in front of the church at 141 South County Road and then was closed down entirely prior to the presidential motorcade from Mar-a-Lago to the church.
Across the street, long-time Trump supporter Lina Lindroos of Hypoluxo stood on the hood of the “Trump-mobile,” a high profile homage on wheels to the president, cobbled together from three different cars, that is the object of international attention. Her husband Karl, part of the Lantana Finnish community that supported Trump, stood nearby.
Just around the corner from both, Lauren Lester, a Palm Beach resident in a pink hat and dress, held up a hand-lettered sign to get her message across: Palm Beach loves its immigrants.
“I wouldn’t want to detract from the president’s Easter,” said Lester. “I pray for him as a person and as a president.”
But, she said, “I think it’s important to remember our immigrants here in Palm Beach, who prepare our meals, care for our young and our elderly.”
It’s doubtful the Trump entourage saw either the sign or the car.
A block away, the president, first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron; Trump’s daughter, Tiffany; and the first lady’s parents entered the church for 11 a.m. services from a series of tents erected to give the family privacy.
The Rev. James Harlan, the church’s rector, gave a welcome message before the service with instructions on receiving communion- and turning off cell phones and cameras.
Trump had already tweeted several times Sunday morning, wishing his followers a happy Easter and addressing the Tax March protests that took place around the country yesterday. Read more about his Easter morning Twitter activity.
London resident Arthur McCalmont, who sat two rows away from the president, was relieved politics had been left outside the church doors. The service was “very non-political, very non-controversial,” he said.
Trump left after taking communion. The first family planned to brunch at Mar-a-Lago with Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., followed by an afternoon Easter egg hunt.
12:20 p.m. UPDATE: President Donald Trump and his family have left the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, where they attended an Easter service this morning, to return to Mar-a-Lago.
The family will have brunch and then take part in an Easter egg hunt on Mar-a-Lago’s lawn, a White House spokeswoman said.
11:50 a.m. UPDATE: The Secret Service has reopened part of South County Road following an earlier closure, according to a town of Palm Beach traffic alert.
The road now is open north of Cocoanut Walk, and traffic traveling to and from The Breakers is no longer being diverted.
11:30 a.m. UPDATE: As the president’s motorcade made the short drive from Mar-a-Lago to the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea this morning, a group gathered near Charley’s Crab to wave and take photos.
According to pool reports, one woman held an American flag, while a woman farther along South Ocean Boulevard stood on a balcony holding a sign that said “Impeach.” Two children stood closer to the church holding signs that said “Happy Easter Mr. President.”
Joining the president are first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron; Trump’s daughter, Tiffany; and the first lady’s parents. Following the service, the family will return to Mar-a-Lago for Easter brunch and an egg hunt with Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric and their families.
The president is scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., later today.
10:57 a.m. UPDATE: President Donald Trump has arrived for the Easter service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.
The Rev. James Harlan, the church’s rector, gave a welcome message before the service with instructions on receiving communion, and asking attendees to turn off their phones and cameras.
President Trump has arrived at Bethesda-by-the-Sea church in Palm Beach for Easter services. He last went to church on Inauguration Day.— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) April 16, 2017
10:50 a.m. UPDATE: Church-goers have begun entering the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach ahead of President Donald Trump’s arrival.
Easter service at Bethesda where President Trump is expected to attend. pic.twitter.com/MHre2IHZUt— Aleese Kopf (@aleesekopf) April 16, 2017
To get into the church, congregants had to walk through metal detectors and allow their bags to be searched. A tented walkway has been set up outside the south entrance to Bethesda-by-the-Sea’s sanctuary, indicating the president could enter there.
The church is streaming the service live on its website, www.bbts.org.
10:45 a.m. UPDATE: As President Donald Trump is set to attend the 11 a.m. Easter service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, drivers in the area can expect these road closures:
• From 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: The Secret Service is closing South County Road from Royal Poinciana Way south to Barton Avenue near the church.
• As the president travels to and from the church: South Ocean Boulevard will be closed for the motorcade from the church to Mar-a-Lago.
Still waiting to enter Bethesda for Easter service. pic.twitter.com/czvt3O6GnJ— Aleese Kopf (@aleesekopf) April 16, 2017
10:30 a.m. UPDATE: Attendees of the 9 a.m. service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea are beginning to leave, as President Donald Trump is set to arrive at the church in the next half-hour to attend the church’s 11 a.m. Easter service.
People from the 9 a.m. Easter service are leaving. We're still waiting to get into 11 a.m. service. President Trump expected to attend. pic.twitter.com/TNfwyO3JXp— Aleese Kopf (@aleesekopf) April 16, 2017
10:05 a.m. UPDATE: Congregants are lining up to pass through metal detectors before attending the 11 a.m. Easter service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, where President Donald Trump is expected to arrive within the hour.
Dozens of people line up for 11 am Easter service at Bethesda. Most are regular churchgoers w/ or w/o President here pic.twitter.com/BGUmUqs43X— Aleese Kopf (@aleesekopf) April 16, 2017
Metal detectors before getting in line for the 11 a.m. Easter service with President Trump. pic.twitter.com/xbftXu87ug— Aleese Kopf (@aleesekopf) April 16, 2017
Churchgoers lined up to get into Bethesda for Easter service with President Trump. pic.twitter.com/V3T2nmNOgu— Aleese Kopf (@aleesekopf) April 16, 2017
Trump has tweeted several times this morning, wishing his followers a happy Easter and addressing the Tax March protests that took place around the country yesterday. Read more about his Easter morning Twitter activity.
The Secret Service is closing South County Road from Royal Poinciana Way south to Barton Avenue near the church from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, the town said. Drivers should use Cocoanut Row instead and expect delays in the area.
Tents have been set up on the south side of the church for the president’s arrival.
Tents are up where President Trump is expects to make his entrance for Easter service at Bethesda. pic.twitter.com/avBpqVnoMM— Aleese Kopf (@aleesekopf) April 16, 2017
The service can be streamed live online at www.bbts.org.
9:30 a.m. UPDATE: Security is tight at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, where President Donald Trump may attend the 11 a.m. Easter service.
Metal detectors have been set up outside the church to screen congregants, and Secret Service agents and other security officials and law enforcement are patrolling the area.
If you want to attend the service with Trump, you should get there soon: The church’s popular holiday services frequently overflow, with extra seating available this morning in the Parish Hall for the 11 a.m. service.
Those interested also can watch the service streaming live online at www.bbts.org.
Trump tweeted his Easter greeting this morning: “Happy Easter to everyone!”
Happy Easter to everyone!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2017
The president has a history with the church: He and first lady Melania Trump were married there in 2005, and their son Barron was christened there in December 2006. The president and first lady attended the 11 a.m. Easter service and Christmas Eve Mass at Bethesda-by-the-Sea last year.
EARLIER STORY: As President Donald Trump starts his Sunday in Palm Beach, there’s one question on the minds of many: How will he spend his Easter?
Should the president and his family attend a church service, it likely will be at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, a short drive north of Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.
The historic church is where Trump, his wife and their son Barron attended an Easter service last year. The president and first lady also have attended the Christmas Eve service at the church, and the couple was married there.
Church officials have declined to comment on whether Trump is planning to attend this year’s Easter service.
A church service could cap Trump’s visit, as the president is expected to leave Palm Beach later today to return to the White House, just in time for the annual Easter Egg Roll on Monday.
Check back for more updates throughout the day.