The Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea
In 1889, four communicants gathered on the shores of Lake Worth, beginning what would become the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea. In response to a request from the Rt. Rev. E. Gardner Weed, Bishop of Florida, the Rev. Joseph N. Mulford, then rector of Christ Church, Troy, New York, volunteered to travel to the tiny island community of Lake Worth, on the eastern side of the eponymous body of water. His calling was to establish a mission in South Florida, and he gathered a small, seasonal congregation in a simple wooden structure accessible only by boat from the mainland across the intracoastal waterway. The congregation grew, and a second structure, slightly north of the first (and currently a private home), was consecrated in 1896. In 1925, through the vision of Canon James Townsend Russell who had previously served at the National Cathedral, the congregation began construction of the iconic structure in which we worship today.
At Bethesda, we welcome all of God’s people to share in worship, fellowship, and leadership. As Jesus loves all, we strive to love and include all in Jesus’ name, unconditionally and without regard to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, culture, age, national origin, socio-economic status, family configuration, education, physical and mental challenges, or spiritual and religious traditions.
Bethesda is a community of people from all walks of life discovering the joy of knowing and following Jesus Christ. We gather throughout the week to hear the sacred stories of God’s love and to be nourished in word and sacrament. Then, inspired by our fellowship, we strive to make God’s love a living reality in our lives every day. Even during this pandemic, we have experienced the clear and strong presence of God through worship, learning, and service online. Now gathering both online and in-person, we hope every person seeking the peace and presence of God will join in worship and other programs regularly.
Rector & Clergy
Directions and Parking Information
Bethesda is blessed with beautiful buildings and grounds but with almost no private parking. We make every effort to be good neighbors and ask that anyone visiting Bethesda pay careful attention to the parking guidelines for the various neighboring streets. We promise, coming to Bethesda is worth the effort!
Handicap parking is available on Via Bethesda (north side of Church). Any spaces along Via Bethesda not designated as handicap parking are available for those visiting the church. Via Bethesda is a private road, and anyone parking there for reasons other than visiting the church will be ticketed and/or towed. In addition, parking is never allowed on Via Bethesda east of the church’s property line, in front of the neighboring residences. Cars parked there will be towed.
Barton Avenue (south side Bethesda) offers public, two-hour parking in marked spaces. The two-hour limit is suspended for services at Bethesda. For large church events, Barton from Ocean Boulevard to South County Road becomes one-way with parking on both sides for the entire length of this block. The Town erects signs to clearly indicate when Barton is one-way. All cars must be removed within 30 minutes of the conclusion of these events and any cars remaining in this section of Barton, with the exception of those in designated, public spaces, will be ticketed and/or towed.
Barton Avenue from South County Road west to Cocoanut Row is reserved for those with residential permits and those attending a church event. Cars parked in this area without a permit and not attending a church event will be ticketed and/or towed.
The Town allows parking on both sides of South County Road on Sunday mornings only.