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.