Church Services in Israel: Catholic, Protestant, Anglican and more
For most Christian pilgrims, traveling to Israel is quite a special experience. Whilst it’s a vacation, it’s also far more than that - it’s a chance to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, exploring the places he spent his life and visualizing for yourself the events that you grew up reading in the Bible.
Visiting the Holy Land offers Christians the opportunity to travel to the towns and cities where Jesus spent his life - where he was born, raised, ministered, arrested, and crucified, then resurrected. It is an opportunity not just to connect with your faith, but also to meet others who share it.
And, of course, whether it’s your first trip to Israel, or you’re returning, you’re going to want to go to services, whilst you’re abroad. The good news is that Israel is home to about 185,000 Christians, spread around the country, and there are endless opportunities to worship, whether you’re a Protestant, Catholic, Coptic, Russian Orthodox, or simply someone who doesn’t like labels!
There are many beautiful churches in Israel and so we’ve compiled a list of some of their services, all offering visitors a warm welcome and the opportunity to see for themselves what life as a Christian in Israel is really like.
Churches in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is home to 95 churches, so there’s plenty of choice for those visiting the capital of Israel.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Various Services)
Located on St. Helena Street in the Old City, this is the largest and most well-known church in Jerusalem. Founded by Constantine the Great, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is home to the place where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and subsequently raised from the dead.
It has a beautiful and imposing interior and, under a Mandate established in 1852, its ‘custody’ is shared by six denominations - Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syriac Orthodox.
Numerous services are held there each day, depending on winter or summer hours. For a complete list and additional information: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Notre Dame (Catholic Service)
Just a few steps away from Jerusalem's New Gate, this comfortable guesthouse (which also boasts an excellent rooftop restaurant with panoramic views of the Old City) has a beautiful chapel, where daily masses (in English) are held at 18.30. Every Sunday they have a morning mass at 9.00 am. For more details: Notre Dame of Jerusalem
Notre Dame of Jerusalem
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer (Protestant Service)
With its imposing bell tower (it’s a rather exhausting climb to the top, but you will be rewarded with astonishing views of Jerusalem) the Lutheran Church holds archaeological treasures under its nave that date back to the era of King Herod the Great.
Founded in 1898 in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm II, there is an English-speaking group of worshippers which holds services at 9 am on Sundays, in a small chapel south of the main German/Arab congregation. For more details: the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
Christ Church (Anglican Service)
A stone’s throw from the Tower of David, just inside the Jaffa Gate, Christ Church is an Anglican center of prayer for nations across the world, and holds communion in English, Arabic, Russian and Turkish, not to mention Advent and Epiphany services in German and French!
They boast accommodation and a friendly, welcoming coffee shop, and their services are geared towards reflecting a Jewish context of the Gospels.
Church Services in Bethlehem
Church of the Nativity (Various Services)
This is surely one of the churches which hold the most significance for Christians since it holds a grotto that marks the spot (with a silver star) where Jesus was born. Originally commissioned by Constantine the Great, it is the oldest continuously used church in Israel (and indeed the world).
Situated in Bethlehem, just 20 minutes drive from Jerusalem, it was rebuilt over the centuries, today it is made up of three different monasteries - one Armenian Apostlic, the second Greek Orthodox, and the third Roman Catholic. All week long, the church is open for visits and mass is held on Sunday mornings. For more details: Church of the Nativity
The Church of the Nativity
Church Services in Jaffa
St. Peter's Church (Roman Catholic Service)
This beautiful Franciscan church is located in Jaffa, in the historical part of the city, near the port (where Jonah fled God and subsequently ended up in the belly of a whale).
The interior is reminiscent of a European cathedral and was originally built during Ottoman times, over the ruins of a medieval fortress. The marble walls and high-vaulted ceilings are extremely beautiful and the windows in the church all depict scenes from the life of the disciple St, Peter.
Masses are held in English, Spanish, Hebrew, and Polish and St. Peter’s Church in Jaffa is open daily.
St. Peter's Church in Jaffa
Church Services in Nazareth
Church of the Annunciation (Roman Catholic Service)
Nazareth is in northern Israel and the Church of the Annunciation (also known as the Basilica of the Annunciation) was erected on the spot where Christians believe the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, to announce that she was pregnant with Jesus. The church today is on two levels and was constructed over the ruins of Byzantine and Crusader structures.
With its enormous cupola and the famous grotto (believed to have been Mary’s childhood home), the courtyard is also a lovely place to wander, filled with mosaics donated from Christian communities around the world.
Services are held in Arabic, Italian, and English, depending on the time and day, and can be live-streamed from their website, should you for any reason not be able to attend in person! For more details: Church of the Annunciation
Basilica of the Annunciation
Church Services in the Galilee
This beautiful part of Israel boasts several beautiful churches and is a must-see area because it was here that Jesus recruited his disciples, performed many of his miracles, and ministered to thousands. But there are two, in particular, that we would recommend:
Church of the Beatitudes (Catholic Service)
In the heart of Galilee, just above Capernaum, and located on the Mount of Beatitudes, this is where Jesus gave his famous ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ This beautiful Franciscan church was designed by the Italian Antonio Barluzzi (who subsequently became known as ‘the architect of the Holy Land).’
The church was built in 1938, in an octagonal shape, and has stained glass windows (featuring the beatitudes or ‘blessings’) and a single dome. It boasts daily services, and scripture readings and also offers pilgrims the chance to stay at their guesthouse, where meals are served using local produce from farmers in the area. For more details: The Church of the Beatitudes
The Church of the Beatitudes
St. Peter's Church (Catholic Service)
Situated in Tiberias, a town on the western shore of Galilee, next to the promenade, St. Peters is an ancient church, built by the Crusaders in around 1100. After the land was conquered by Muslims, it was turned into a mosque. However, in the 18th century, it was purchased by Franciscans, who converted it back to a place of worship for Christians.
The church’s interior is interesting - it is shaped like an upturned boat, to represent the fact that it was here Jesus found his disciples - all fishermen, who worked on boats on the Sea of Galilee.
St. Peter’s offers a guesthouse with 25 rooms for pilgrims and, to attend services, take a look at their schedule of masses; Services are held both in English and Hebrew.
St. Peter's Church in Tiberias (by Almog CC BY-SA 3.0)