Sue Nowicki of the Modesto Bee writes:
The knock echoed loudly Sunday afternoon through the sanctuary of St. Francis Episcopal Church. It was the Rev. Chester Talton, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, rapping with his crosier and asking for permission to enter.
His entrance — the first by an Episcopalian bishop since 2007 — began the Festival Homecoming Eucharist in the church, which until May 31 had been in the hands of an Anglican congregation. That congregation held its final service three weeks ago before giving up its parish property to the Episcopalian diocese and beginning a new church — Grace Anglican — a few blocks away.
St. Francis was packed Sunday, with about 140 people filling every pew and the choir area, with visitors from Bakersfield to Lodi. The crowd fit the theme of the day, from the opening hymn to the sermon: “All Are Welcome.”
St. Francis’ is the second former breakaway church in San Joaquin to return control of parish property to the diocese.