Church on Demand: A Prologue

Posted by C. A. Conn, With 2 Comments, Category: Church on Demand,
Grace Bacher

Co-researcher Grace Bacher

In 2003, Good Shepherd celebrated the centennial of its designation as a mission; in 2011, it was the centennial of our church building. In between those centennials, I got very interested in the people and the happenings of both Good Shepherd and St Paul’s, San Jacinto. One of the things that set the Episcopal congregations apart from many of the other churches in the valley was that both missions grew from the congregation, not from a central church. They did not exist because an organized church sent missionaries to begin a congregation; they existed because worshippers informed a diocese that they wanted – that they needed – a church in this valley. At the time, I said if I ever put it all down in a book (as my co-researcher Grace Bacher said we must someday do), the title would be “Church on Demand.”

Then the interest took me further afield—to the beginnings of the Los Angeles Diocese, then back to the beginnings of the Diocese of California; then further back to the first Episcopal services in California. At some point, it occurred to me that the Episcopalians in our valley weren’t the only demanding ones. I noticed that the beginnings and early confusions in bringing Episcopal services to California came from this same circumstance: it was potential parishioners demanding the church, not the central church sending out missionaries in the hopes of beginning missions and churches. So the title still seems apt.

We share our pews and our faith with more than a century of parishioners who built and grew the space in which we worship, but first they demanded to be acknowledged as part of the Episcopal Church in the United States. It is to those thousands of parishioners — and especially to my coworker for many of these years, Grace Bacher—that this writing is dedicated.

July 2015

  1. Date: August 25, 2016
    Author: Bob Johnson

    Mr. Conn, My grandfather, Mortimer Chester, was an Episcopal missionary and priest serving St. Paul's in San Jacinto between 1918-1920. How can I find out more about the Church and its history? Regards, Bob Johnson

    • Date: August 26, 2016
      Author: Church of the Good Shepherd

      I'm slowly developing the history of St. Paul's and Good Shepherd; the only other published history is in one for the San Jacinto valley; it is mostly accurate but only has your grandfather's name and service dates. The chapter in Church on Demand which will deal with your grandfather's time as vicar here will be coming in a few months. What information I have currently came from the Canonical Registers of St. Paul's and Good Shepherd (showing that he began here March 4, 1919 and left March 1, 1921) and in the Hemet News (an article about his coming is in the March 7, 1919 issue, currently online). As I approach that chapter I'll be searching other sources; it would be wonderful to have any information you might have about him to incorporate into the history. Thank you for the contact -- it's very exciting to hear from families! CA Conn


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