All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

Mary Deeley

July 14, 2013

Earlier this week, I was looking for a birthday card. I wanted to find the right one and they have so many to choose from. On a whim, knowing today’s readings, I suddenly began looking for a different card altogether. Do you know what kinds of cards are not at Walgreen’s – cards for neighbors. You know what they would look like..”Thanks for being such a good neighbor…nice fence.” Do you know where there are lots of conversations about neighbors? Dear Abby and Ask Amy. But those conversations are not about nice neighbors. Those conversations almost always begin like this: “Dear Abby, My neighbor has a dog…” “Dear Amy, My neighbors are copycats…” “Dear Abby, my neighbors children lack neighbors…there is a strange person leaving my neighbor’s house early in the morning…my neighbor is a troubled woman.”

To all of these letters, both Abby and Amy have three basic responses: “Mind your own business, “Speak to them politely, but firmly,” or “Move out or live with it.” What strikes me is that is all of this, whether people are good or bad, their identity as neighbors is defined by their proximity to the writer’s house. That’s how we all do it, isn’t it? My neighbors are those who live next door, or on my block, or in my area.

But today is about so much more than that. Today is about wresting our definition from self-centeredness to other-directedness. Today is about questions on how we give witness to our encounter with the living God. Today is not about people who lived long ago, it is about us who live today with more ways to communicate and stay in touch with friends and neighbors than ever before and, more than ever before, able to avoid the face to face, down to earth messy encounters that are the essence of what it is to be a neighbor.

When I was preparing for today, I could not get the words of that great 20th century theologian out of my mind – that’s right, Mr. Rogers. He asked: “Would you be my, could you be my, won’t you be my neighbor?” This is where we start – with a question for our childhood in faith. Children need to know that someone is open to them, willing to accept them and our first tentative steps on the path of love begin with letting someone else know that we will be open to them. What I notice is that in all that openness, we still require the other person to make the response and take the risk. They have to decide whether or not to be our neighbors. This is where the lawyer is when he asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” His question easily could have been phrased “Who has agreed to be my neighbor? Who do I have to love?” And, like many of us in our lives, we will wait until someone volunteers or accepts our openness or at least our tolerance.

But in his story and his words to the lawyer, Jesus challenges us to shift perspective with the question for our adult Christian lives: “Who are you a neighbor to?” Suddenly we find that it is no longer enough to be open to others, it is a matter of declaring ourselves to be the neighbor to whomever we encounter, wherever we encounter them. What does that mean? The story itself is a clue. We are neighbors when we bind the wounds not just of those we like or who are like us, but of those who would cross to the other side of the street if they saw us coming. We are neighbors when refuse to take advantage of someone else’s brokenness or vulnerability and, instead, offer help and solace, even if it costs us something. This is neighbor no longer defined by proximity and similarity. It is neighbor defined by compassion, mercy and the recognition of our common humanity and origins as children of God.

(Different Services heard different stories here. This is the one the 11:00 service heard)

Just yesterday, a trial ended in Florida which touched the heart of an often divided nation. What would it have been like, we might wonder, if George Zimmerman had decided to be a neighbor to Trayvon Martin. Yes, we would like to live in that world. But if you want to glimpse the real risk we take when we decide to accept the challenge to do what the Samaritan did, then imagine this: that a few months or years from now, one of Trayvon Martin’s family members comes upon George Zimmerman beaten, bloodied, robbed, and, instead of passing by, stops to patch up his hurt and pay for his shelter. This is what it might be like when we live our lives as a declaration that we are neighbors to all we meet. A good spiritual exercise this week might be to think about people who have hurt you or your family or friends and imagine being their neighbor – healing their wounds, helping them get on their feet. And if that’s hard, pray and ask yourself why? What is getting in the way?

What might it look like – a life lived with the intention of being a neighbor and loving those we meet? Paul tells us of his prayers of gratitude that we can and do love all the saints because of the hope laid up for us. What is that hope? Maybe it is simply the confidence we have that the word of God does live and has planted seeds deep in the hearts of women and men who don’t become blind to color, race, status, religion, or orientation, but joyfully become neighbors and welcome them into their lives.

Maybe this is what Paul meant when he said, “Live a life worthy of the Lord…” Maybe his exhortation is to be laid alongside Jesus’ command to the lawyer, “Go and do likewise…” Because when we do that, when we become a neighbor and live that life…it looks like strength – to carry another person’s burdens or even another person just a little bit further down the road. It looks like first responders carrying civilians to safety in a disaster, like family members caring for a loved one ravaged by disease, disability, or deep woundedness of body, mind, or spirit.

It looks like patience, like parents reading the same book over and over again to their children, like people who open their homes, hearts, and checkbooks to those who have been displaced by acts of God or acts of human cruelty. It looks like the students I know and the people you know who build, tutor, or feed people they don’t know - whether in this city or halfway around the world. It looks like old friends, old couples, and long -time congregations who know each other’s great strengths and really rough edges and love them as neighbors and friends anyway, because that’s what makes them who they are.

It looks like joy at the sheer gift of life and faith and community and a world filled with the presence of God, marked in all kinds of ways by all kinds of people to whom we are called to be neighbors. It looks like Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa, like Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Ghandi. It even looks like a lawyer who had the audacity to ask, “Who is my neighbor?” and got an answer that pushed him to go further and risk more than he ever bargained for.

And living a life worthy of the Lord looks like all of us when we stop waiting for someone to be our neighbor and start being neighbors to all we meet – wherever and whomever they may be. “Would I be your…Could I be your…Won’t I be your neighbor?” Who knows, maybe someday there will even be a card for it.

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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.