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Parishioners at St. Timothy’s Church in Compton surprised Bishop Suffragan Chester L. Talton on Sunday June 28 by dedicating their church hall in thanksgiving for his ministry in the Los Angeles diocese.

“We are gathered here today to thank God for the life of Bishop Chester L. Talton and for his love to St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and School,” the Rev. Dr. George Okusi, St. Timothy’s priest-in-charge, told about 80 people who gathered outside for the dedication after the 10:00 a.m. service.

Talton, who was elected suffragan bishop in 1990, has announced plans to retire in June of next year. “This may be my last official visit to St. Timothy’s, but this isn’t my last visit here,” he told the gathering.

“Let this be a place for all people,” Talton added, in thanking St. Timothy’s and the committee which oversaw the building dedication.

During his 18-year tenure as L.A.’s first African American bishop he has served as area bishop to numerous congregations. His responsibilities have also included overseeing the ministry of deacons, higher education, Episcopal schools and various social ministries within the diocese.

St. Timothy’s, located at 312 S. Oleander Street, is “the only Black Episcopal School west of the Mississippi,” Okusi also told the gathering. The church was organized as a mission in 1925, and became a parish in 1954.

The congregation in 1962 also founded the St. Timothy’s Day School, which currently has about 80 students in preschool through 8th grade. That same year, St. Timothy’s Manor, a nearby residence for senior citizens was also established. More recently, the congregation began a Spanish-language congregation, under the pastoral care of the Rev. Gustavo Hernandez.

Talton presided over the confirmations of 11 children and adults during the 10:00 a.m. service. In keeping with St. Timothy’s longstanding tradition of musical excellence, the “Voices of St. Timothy’s,” along with attendees of the Spanish-language service and other parishioners, offered a variety of musical selections during the service.

A graduate of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, Talton served on the clergy staff of the Wall Street Parish of Trinity Church in New York City, and as rector of St. Philip’s Church in Harlem.

April Grayson Talton was also present at the dedication ceremony. Also making presentations to Talton were Mireya Clarke, on behalf of the church; headmaster Ron Chatman, on behalf of St. Timothy’s School; and Viceroy Andrews, St. Timothy’s senior warden, on behalf of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

A lunch reception was held immediately following the dedication.

The “Voices of St. Timothy’s” are set to perform at an upcoming 4:00 p.m. concert on July 18 at the church.