In the 1890’s Moravians got tired of walking four miles or so to church, so they began forming churches of their own — Christ, Calvary, Oak Grove, Enterprise. In the 1990’s a group of Moravians living in the West Palm Beach area got tired of driving the 60 miles to Prince of Peace in Miami, so they began forming a church of their own.
Actually the first meetings were in January 1989, and they met in the home of Sr. Christina Lewis. By July they received fellowship status in the Southern Province as the West Palm Beach Fellowship. Sr. Beryl Adlersberg served as coordinator. In August they began worship services in a neighboring Presbyterian church. Christmas Eve had 74 in attendance for a children’s pageant and candle service. On August 19, 1990, they held their first anniversary of meeting together in the Presbyterian church.
Pastors David Guthrie and later John Giesler made periodic visits from Prince of Peace, and members of that congregation offered encouragement to the fledgling fellowship as did Christian D. Weber, a retired Moravian minister living in the area. Steadman Bent came from Nicaragua in January 1995 to be organizing pastor.
The big day arrived on January 28, 1996, when West Palm Beach formally became a full congregation of the Province. It had 90 members, and it dropped the “West” from its name to become Palm Beach Moravian Church. More than 320 attended that day including choirs from Prince of Peace and King of King churches from Miami. Bishop J.C. Hughes represented the Provincial Elders Conference and delivered the sermon.
Palm Beach finally got its own worship place with the purchase on June 10, 1997, of the Bethesda Gospel Chapel, which could seat 225 in its sanctuary and had an office, social room, and nursery. The building was consecrated that August 24 with 480 attending the 2 1/2 -hour service, 100 of them having to stand outside.
Palm Beach is mission minded, for in 1990, hardly a year after it became a fellowship, it was raising funds to rebuild a church in Nicaragua. And that is entirely fitting, since so many members of Palm Beach had been Moravians in that land.