All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Jesus Didn’t Come to Found A Church!

Bishop C. Christopher Epting 
Assistant Bishop of Chicago

Sunday, July 7

While I was serving on the Presiding Bishop’s staff as ecumenical officer, I ran across something called the “Emergent (or Emerging) church.” This is a kind of movement initially started by young, evangelical pastors who were trying to relate to the post-modern, post-Christian, post-nearly-everything-else world of the 21st century, and to discern what – if anything – the Holy Spirit might be trying to say to the churches in our day.

Many of these young people had been involved in big, evangelical “mega-churches,” those big box structures with the full parking lots one can see on the outskirts of most American cities these days. And, they had become disenchanted with all the hype and the manipulation and the “marketing” of Christianity as well as with the notion that the whole Christian faith revolves around nothing but personal conversion, and being saved from the fires of hell by “accepting Jesus Christ as one’s personal Lord and Savior!”

They began noticing, as they talked and studied and prayed together, that the Bible really has very little to say about that…when compared to its evolving message about liberation for the oppressed, justice for the poor, and peace and harmony for the whole world! They began noticing that – far from what they had been taught – Jesus did not come to found a Church. He came to inaugurate the Kingdom of God -- To announce the ultimate Reign and Sovereignty of God. They began to discover that evangelism and social action are really two sides of the same coin. And, if the Church has a message in our day, this may be part of it!

I think today’s Gospel (Luke 10:1-11, 16-20), with Jesus sending out 70 disciples on what looks very much like an “apostolic” mission, may have something to say to all that. Let’s take a look at it. First of all, Jesus sent them out in pairs. That says something about the essential nature of Christian community for our mission. You can’t really be a “solo Christian” and being part of the Christian community is absolutely essential -- whether that community is a large one like All Saints or just “two or three gathered in Christ’s name” in a household or a cell group. Community is central!

Secondly, Jesus tells them to go out in a spirit of vulnerability and humility – “like lambs in the midst of wolves.” In contrast to a kind of triumphalist, muscular Christianity we see so much of today, these disciples are to be humble and even vulnerable as they interact with the world. Not to have all the answers, but perhaps at least asking the right questions!

Third, they are to “travel light.” “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals, and greet no one on the way.” They were to be itinerant preachers and evangelists, not encumbered with a lot of “stuff,” and single-minded in their purpose, not getting distracted. Well, the Church of today – whether big box evangelicals or gothic mainstreamers – has a lot of “stuff!” And one of the things we are going to have to figure out in a day of economic stress, and changing priorities, is how we are going to deal with our “stuff.” Can it be used for mission and ministry? If not…do we really need it? How do we keep “the main thing, the main thing” in our mission?

Fourth, they are to be peacemakers: “Whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this house.” There should be a peaceful, centeredness in our Christian discipleship. Whatever situation we walk into, we should bring something of “the peace of God which passes all understanding” with us. In a conflicted society and a violent world, what more important message is there than the message of peace?

Next, Jesus tells them that, while they are itinerant preachers and evangelists, they are not to “move about from house to house” but to “remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide.” In other words, they are to build relationships! And sometimes you do that by letting other people serve you! Sometimes, we are to provide hospitality to others, but at other times we need to be humble enough to let others provide hospitality to us! “Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you… (and) cure the sick who are there.”

Cure the sick. Healing! Another essential ministry for Christian disciples: we are to bring healing. That may come in the traditional forms of prayer and the laying on of hands or sitting with people bringing counsel and spiritual direction. Or it may entail the healing of society – working to end gun violence, or for just immigration reform, or marriage equality for all God’s people. However we do it, just as it is incumbent upon Christians to be peacemakers, so we are also to become healers.

Then, the last step: “Say to them: The kingdom of God has come near you!” At some point, we have to make the connection that it is God who “has given us the will and the wisdom to do all these things!” And, just as our evangelical friends have often failed to engage in the work of peacemaking and justice building, so we have often failed to make the connection for people that the reason we are about those tasks is not because they are “politically correct,” because we are in the service of God’s kingdom – we are about the task of cooperating with the Reign and the Sovereignty of God in this world!

Once again, what the emergent church folks are learning is that Jesus did not come to found a Church. Jesus came to inaugurate the Kingdom, the Reign, and the Sovereignty of God in the world. We need to learn the same thing.

Years ago, the evangelism office of The Episcopal Church put out a rather colorful poster. When you first looked at it, it appeared to be a chalice. But, it was an optical illusion and, when you looked at it more carefully, you could see that it was two faces, in profile, talking to one another. And there were three words beneath the picture: Go…Listen…Tell.

That was an attempt to articulate a simple, but effective, evangelism strategy for Episcopalians. A strategy which, I believe, is based on our Gospel story today of the sending out of the Seventy. Go – outside the doors if this church after we are dismissed at the end of the Liturgy. Go, into your homes and neighborhoods and schools and workplaces this week. And…

Listen. Don’t talk so much, but listen! Listen to your family and friends and co-workers and people you meet on the street. Listen to their pain and their struggles, to their joys and their celebrations. Listen deeply like those first disciples sharing meals in the homes of their new acquaintances. Then…and only then…

Tell. Tell them your story. Tell them about how God helped you when you were going through something like what they are going through. Tell them about how the Church – this church – has been there for you, in the good times and the bad. And then invite them here…

…So that they can discover for themselves the peace which passes all understanding, the healing of body, mind, spirit, and relationships that you yourself have experienced. For, when you’ve done that, they – like those first disciples’ hearers – will know that “the kingdom of God has come near…”

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Weekly Message for December 17

Weekly Message for December 17

Dear Friends,    

Tomorrow is our long awaited and much anticipated #HamiltonMeetsJesus Christmas pageant. As I write this note, I remember Fonzi and the writers’ of that beloved 70s TV show, Happy Days, and conclude that this year’s pageant may truly have "jumped the shark." That said, our young people have spent an inordinate amount of time working on this year’s production. Tomorrow you will see that the camel and sheep legislators are busy amending the celestial republic’s founding documents, the shepherds are trying to figure out their new tax bills, the innkeeper offers Joseph some sage advice, “Smile more, talk less,” Mary is adjusting to a new donkey, the archangels have an opening rap that really puts some flesh on the notion of the virgin birth, and King Herod is quite sure that the immigrant Wise Men will be back. All of which is to say, it’s pretty much business as usual for the All Saints’ Christmas Pageant which will be premiering at the 9 and 11 o’clock worship services. 

In the midst of the Hamilton hoopla one truth I hope to offer to all of us is that God, in the infant Jesus, came into this world to show each of us the unending power of love. While Alexander Hamilton and the founding parents of our republic took a step toward liberty and justice, I invite you to remember and hold dear that the real revolution, the true up-ending of our world, comes not through government policy, but through our ability to live our lives in such a way that the love of God is made real in all we do. Please let that revolution begin.

To avoid donkeys, camels, and chaos, attend the 8:00 service and then return for the absolutely amazing Advent and Christmas Lessons and Carols that our choir will be offering at 4:30 tomorrow afternoon. To end a long day at 5:30 we’ll all journey to the back room of O’Shaughnessy’s Pub for Beer and Caroling! At noon—we’ll be serving a light lunch and transforming our sanctuary from Advent austerity to Christmas greenery. Please come and join in any or all the activities that may feed your soul in this season of expectation and birth. 

All my very best to you on this my MOST FAVORITE WEEKEND of the year,


Working Against the Virus of Racism

Working Against the Virus of Racism

kellybdWe are very excited that the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas will be spending a weekend with us this fall, September 23 and 24. Kelly was formerly the Canon Theologian at our National Cathedral. In the fall she will become the first Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, now located at Union Theological Seminary. We've invited Kelly to spend the weekend with us so that we might again return to our work on confronting racism. Kelly is an amazing preacher and theologian and we are beyond honored that she is making time in her incredibly busy schedule to be with us. Look for more details in the next few weeks on the spirituality and theology that we will be exploring together. 

In the event that you find yourself looking for some interesting summer reading, here are some books she has suggested we investigate: HomecomingThe Color of Law, and one by Kelly called Stand Your Ground. She also suggested that watching 13th on Netflix would be helpful.

Racism is an issue that we are called to confront and challenge and end. It is not something that will just die a gentle death. Our hope is that with our time with Kelly and one another, we may again return to this important work. 

All Saints' Book Club

All Saints' Book Club

midnightFall Reading List Selected

The All Saints Book Club has defined its reading list through the fall. The meetings start at 7:30 PM usually at the home of a member. The locations and further details are on our Facebook page. Here is the schedule for the next several months:

  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe (meet in the Reading Room at the church)
  • October 12 - "Saints and Villains" by Denise Giardina
  • November 9 - "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson
  • December 14 - Pick your own poetry book and share favorite poem(s)

For additional information, contact Mike Burke (

Bags for RCS

Bags for RCS

We're running low on paper and reusable bags for our Tuesday night pantry. Please bring us your extras! 
We will be taking donations on Tuesday evenings, M-F 9am-4pm, and on Sundays during church services. Look for the bins by the doors. Thanks for your help!

Evening Prayer at The Breakers

Evening Prayer at The Breakers

 Sundays at 2pm

breakersbibleWe are very excited to announce that every Sunday at 2:00 pm, All Saints' offers something new at the Breakers - An Evening Prayer Service! Our first event was Sunday, December 4th, and went marvelously well - we had 13 attendees! Folks are very pleased that there's a Protestant service being offered in addition to the current choices (which are Catholic and Moody Bible.) The Prayer Service itself is printed in large print and in bulletin style with scripture taken each week from the Common Lectionary.

The weekly service starts at 2:00 pm, upstairs on the second floor Meditation Room, and lasts about 15 minutes. Please contact Paul Mallatt if you have questions, or comments at 773-860-4649. When you can, stop by the Breakers (5333 N Sheridan Rd) where the parking is free (for 2 hours), the coffee is hot, and the folks are friendly!


Community Kitchen Volunteers Needed

Community Kitchen Volunteers Needed

Tuesdays 6:15-8:00pm 

RCS is looking for help serving and cleaning up after dinner on Tuesdays from 6:15-8:00pm.

If you're able to volunteer, contact Emily or Operations Manager Parker Callahan, or call 773-769-0282.

New Opportunity: Hospitality Ministry

New Opportunity: Hospitality Ministry

helloDo you feel called to create an open, welcoming, hospitable environment at All Saints? Do you like meeting and connecting with people? Join the new Hospitality Ministry! Members of the Hospitality Ministry will help the clergy and vestry create a welcoming culture by greeting new members, engaging new faces at coffee hour, and helping connect new members of All Saints with our various programs.

Interested? Contact Diane Doran or Michelle Mayes. Include "Hospitality Ministry" in the subject line.

Join Our Member Directory!

Join Our Member Directory!

Our new Associate Rector, Emily Williams Guffey, is enjoying getting to know everyone in our congregation. Help her put names and faces together by adding yourself to our online directory!

If you are a member of All Saints' and haven't already registered for the directory, please contact our resident web guru Jim Crandall at and he will send a user name, password, and instructions.

Love on a Plate

Love on a Plate

Join the All Saints' Care Ministry! 

casseroleThe Care Ministry at All Saints' is a quiet one, simply providing meals after a new baby arrives, after surgery, during an illness. Because when life gets complicated, dinner is often the last thing on our minds--but sometimes a meal and visit from a friend is exactly what we need!

If you can provide a meal, give someone a ride, or run an errand once in awhile, please email You'll be contacted when a need arises and you can sign up to help at your convenience.


Donate to The 1883 Project

Donate to The 1883 Project

Please consider supporting the restoration project of our historic building. To make a donation, click here

1883 Construction web 

This OLD Church

This OLD Church

This week’s stories of the bell tower: The beams and posts in the bell tower are being filled with epoxy and fungicide to prevent future insect damage and to restore their strength and integrity. Here are some photos of the work currently taking place. Everywhere you see white is where the post or beam is being rebuilt, restored and protected.
The blue hue in the photo is from the tarp surrounding the bell tower enabling Ron Young and his crew to continue working in the dropping temperatures.
Fixing This Old Church

Fixing This Old Church

Here is a collection of photos of the progress of our 1883 Project. Here is a collection of bell tower photos. Check back often for updates.

Sunday Service Times

8:00 am Inclusive Language Eucharist
9:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir
10:00 am Children's Church School
10:00 am Coffee Hour
11:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir


Contact Us

4550 N. Hermitage in Chicago, IL 60640 (Directions)

Phone (773) 561-0111


Information about pastoral care.



Bonnie on Huffington Post

Occasionally Bonnie's sermons are published on the Huffington Post. Here are some links.

Pain. Change. Hope.

November 15, 2015

What Does St. Francis of Assisi Have to Say to Us Today?

October 4, 2015

Wake Up Calls

September 6, 2015

Christmas Reminds Us That We, Like God, Are Human, Too

December 24, 2014

The Deep Sleep of Racial Oblivion: One Pastor's Sin of Omission

November 30, 2014

Pulpit Swap

The Pulpit Swap between St Thomas and All Saints is part of our ongoing effort to bring our parishes closer together as we engage in a conversation about systemic racism and how we can work together to forge new possibilities and outcomes.

Going Home—Changed

Pulpit Swap Sermon By The Rev Bonnie Perry of All Saints Episcopal Church on October 16, 2016.  

When Prayers Go Unanswered

Pulpit Swap Sermon By The Rev Dr Fulton L Porter celebrating at All Saints Episcopal Church on Oct16 2016.