From San Joaquin-
After years of fighting a lawsuit over its property, the parishioners of St. Francis Anglican Church in Turlock will close their doors for the final time Sunday and walk to a new beginning a few blocks away.
The 75 or so regular attendees will take almost nothing with them — not even membership and financial records of the past few years — and instead will start from scratch as Grace Anglican Church in rented space at another local church.
"At the end of the day, we walk away from all this with a great deal of peace in our hearts," said the Rev. Gerry Grossman, who has led St. Francis Anglican Church since 2008.
The tussle over property began after the San Joaquin Diocese left the national Episcopal church in 2007 over issues such as the ordination of gay priests and the interpretation of Scripture. The theologically conservative group that left remained part of the larger worldwide church called the Anglican Communion.
Seven parishes, including Christ the King in Riverbank, and other individual parishioners stayed with the Episcopal church, which filed multiple lawsuits in 2008 and 2009 against the departing Anglican diocese, claiming all property belonged to the national church.
St. Francis and the historic Red Church — St. James in Sonora — are the two most recent parishes to turn over their property to the Episcopal church. Parishioners in St. Paul's in Modesto walked away from its property in 2009. That congregation formed Wellspring Anglican Church, which recently purchased a new facility near the Modesto Junior College West Campus.
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