All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

What are you protecting yourself from?

Beau Surratt

August 4, 2013

There I was in yoga class on Thursday was the period of relaxation at the end of class--that time when, after all of the exertion of a yoga practice, the body is given a chance to rest, regroup and reset itself, by lying on the back and relaxing completely into the floor. My yoga teacher Nick, who could help even the most tightly wound person to relax completely, was leading us into relaxation by inviting us to let go of any of the places where we were holding tension in our bodies. I hadn't been to a yoga class in a while so I was totally enjoying this. I was in that yoga bliss zone and it was great. That is, until Nick uttered those words that sent me spiraling into sermon prep mode for the whole rest of savasana:

What are you protecting yourself from? are things that many of us seek to cultivate in our own lives and in the lives of our families.

Parental drives to protect their children are particularly strong, and rightly so--this is especially prevalent in moms who will often try to protect kids and even adults who aren't even their own--like when you're riding in a car with a colleague who is a mom and, when there's a particularly hard stop she throws her arm out in front of you like a mom-sized seatbelt, except...she's not your mom. Or, like yesterday at the lunch break for our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training course when Andrea Garland, mom to Owen and Eli, felt compelled to make things better and protect me from having a meltdown yesterday when the waitress spilled water all over my pants and I didn't react at all.

Our protection instincts run strong, particularly in this part of the world in this day and age. Life insurance, car insurance, pet insurance--insurance insurance. We yearn for and crave safety, security and protection, and it's no wonder, really. Author, researcher and TED talk diva Brené Brown (who is an Episcopalian, by the way!) tells us in her bestselling book "Daring Greatly" that she's witnessed major shifts in the zeitgeist of our country. She says, "The world has never been an easy place, but the past decade has been traumatic for so many people that it's made changes in our culture. From 9/11, multiple wars, and the recession, to catastrophic natural disasters and the increase in random violence and school shootings, we've survived and are surviving events that have torn at our sense of safety with such force that we've experienced them as trauma even if we weren't directly involved."

All of us have ways that we deal of the harshness of the world--- ways of looking for peace in the midst of the chaos, hope in the midst of the apparently hopeless, control in the midst of uncertainty...ways to ratchet our vulnerability down even just a little when everything seems like too much to bear.

What are you protecting yourself from?

In December of 2012 I returned to All Saints' after almost a year of being away from this community. By my count, this makes my fourth incarnation on the All Saints' staff--- College Intern, Parish Administrator, Associate for Music and Administration, and now Director of Music. In mid 2011 I had been working full time as Parish Administrator here at All Saints' for about 4 years when Margaret McCamant, who was the Director of Music here for 20 years (and now, much to my delight, sings in the choir, plays fiddle and does a myriad of other things here in this community) retired. After much thought, consideration, discernment and questioning about whether it would be something that might work, Bonnie (our Rector-Senior Pastor) and I decided that I would take on the music director duties in addition to my duties as Parish Administrator. I certainly wasn't 100% sure that working 60 hours each week in this amazing and quirky community of faith would work, but I was so excited about the possibility of being able to make music with y'all that I felt compelled to jump in with both feet. And it was really wonderful....for a little while. At some point during those months I realized something that, quite frankly, scared the hell out of me. I couldn't control it all. I was used to being able to rely on my competence to be able to handle whatever anyone threw at me, but, in these two areas where I felt very competent, I just couldn't handle it all. It was out of my control and it made me very, very uncomfortable (and, if you worked with me in the office during those months, you'll know this well--cranky.) So, I did what anyone else would do when completely overwhelmed.....I joined the Roman Catholic Church.

Now...before you think that working at All Saints' drove me to the Roman Catholic Church, I should be really clear that I had felt drawn in that direction for various reasons for a long time and it was something that I would eventually have to experience for myself in order to know completely what it was. But what led me to leave All Saints' and go to work and worship in a Roman Catholic parish at that particular time was something in myself that I didn't know quite how to deal with. I wanted to feel in control again...I wanted to feel like I knew all the answers...I wanted some certainty about things, and I didn't want to feel so darn vulnerable---and, truth be told, if there is a Church that doesn't project even an iota of vulnerability, it's the Roman Catholic Church. I certainly found wonderful grace and comfort during my time in the Catholic Church. I also got to know some very pious- very devoutly religious people - who certainly helped me with my need for certainty. But here's the thing...the more I was attracted to that certainty the more I saw its shadow side. The faith that was so important to me had again become almost completely about being certain and getting it all right. The faith that had been kindled into a living, breathing flame through the Holy Spirit's work in me through my first encounters with the All Saints' community had become a matter of participating in the right rituals in the right way as if to try and make sure God knew that I really cared. I was accumulating all of this right belief and religious experience, and that was it--I was accumulating it. Storing it up, protecting myself so that I wouldn't have to worry about anybody or anything else.

A few months later, when I went with All Saints' and Ravenswood Community Services to the Greater Chicago Food Depository's annual Hunger Walk (and eventually began the series of conversations that would bring me back home to All Saints' and the Episcopal Church) it became very clear to me that I was longing to return to this community. Being at Hunger Walk reminded of something very important that I had learned and seen embodied at All Saints' and that became an integral part of my faith: The Gospel doesn't matter one bit if it doesn't change people's lives. I had been spending a lot of time learning the Gospel, but precious little time living it.

We all at different times in our lives find ourselves longing to protect, hold close, and maybe even hoard our money, possessions, time, religious experiences, our denomination, our church. Particularly when we're feeling overwhelmed, angry, uncertain, and scared. But Jesus says to us the same thing he said to the rich farmer in our story from Luke's Gospel today who stored up all his grains and goods so he could eat, drink, and be merry: "This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."

Blogger about the weekly lectionary readings, Sarah Dylan Breuer ( writes: "When we're dead set on accumulation, whether it's some kind of moral points we think we're gathering or wealth to shield us from misfortune and suffering, we end up trapped in anxiety. There's usually an awareness that we're kidding ourselves, that life involves vulnerability."

Life involves vulnerability. Vulnerability....being ALL IN, as Brené Brown puts it. And she goes on to say in Daring Greatly, "Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection."

Life involves vulnerability.

This very night your life is being demanded of you.

What are you protecting yourself from?

This table that we gather around week after week is a place of vulnerability. Because at this table we offer our very selves to God--hopes and fears, joys and thanksgivings--all that we are - along with bread and wine and food for hungry people. And when we offer it all to God, God gives back to us God's very self--the Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven - the Blood of Christ, the Cup of Salvation -- and we become God's body- the living, breathing, healing, forgiving, and renewing body of Christ sent to mend this broken world. In our vulnerability.....offered to Christ's vulnerability--in his life and death, there is the great power of Resurrection and the promise of the Holy Spirit that we are not alone -- we are not left comfortless.....that we're in this thing together. We're ALL IN.

The Gospel really doesn't matter one bit if it doesn't change people's lives and I am so thankful to be among this community in which I first experienced this being lived out. And I can't wait to see where this living the Gospel together takes us next.


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Dear Friends,

Tomorrow afternoon I'll hit a milestone that astonishes me. I'm honored to be officiating at Kate Gannett and Jamison Merrill's wedding. Katie was one of the five or six little ones who were here at All Saints when I first arrived almost 25 years ago. She was five years old... Now she's working on a graduate degree at Johns Hopkins. She and Jamison met while working in South Africa.

So much has changed since then and yet this community of faith, although much bigger (and heaven knows our building looks much better), retains the same "let's just give this a try and see what happens" spirit. Back then we had Clyde Propst and a few dedicated church school teachers who were willing to give their time to be with our young people and let them know that they mattered. Today we still have Clyde Propst, and more than 10 other people, working with and serving our young ones. In addition, one of the little ones from back in the day, Hilary Waldron, now facilitates our incredibly active 7-12 grade youth group. Taking young people seriously can make a huge difference in their lives! I am so grateful to our nursery, church school teachers, and youth group advisors. Thank you for all that you do and give.

This weekend, in addition to Kate's wedding, I'll be getting my sermon ready for Sunday and anticipating our amazing end-of-the-church-school-ice-cream social. 

Colin and the choir will be creating some lovely music and Emily will be catching some time away after an incredibly packed Spring!

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday!

All the best,


The last few Sundays of our church school year are quickly approaching:

Sunday, June 18th - The Annual Ice Cream Social when church school hosts coffee hour and what's better than ice cream! There will be a variety of ice cream flavors and many possible toppings for do-it-yourself Sundaes served on the lawn in front of the church. Children help with set up serve (and eating!) ice cream, and clearing away the debris

The rest of June and July - Although Sunday school classes do not meet at 10 during the summer, Atrium I will continue to be open during the 9 o'clock service until the end of July. Atrium I children who attend the 11 o'clock service will be welcome in the nursery during the service.

At 10 o'clock children are encouraged to come help water, weed and harvest vegetables from the garden we're planting to support the Ravenswood Services Community Kitchen.


redbirdUnderstanding Vocation in a Complex World

Parishioner Liz Futrell and her colleague Kate Rademacher both work in international public health with a focus on trying to increase access to contraception for women in developing countries. Both women feel a sense of vocation in this work. However, with birth control remaining a controversial topic in the political and religious landscapes, understanding this work as a vocational calling can raise challenging questions. Liz and Kate will talk about how their work intersects with their faith. Kate will read from her new memoir about her recent conversion to Christianity, and Liz will read from a piece about her career path that's been included in a new anthology of women's stories.

Discussion will take place Sunday, June 25, during coffee hour. There will be time for open discussion and the group will be invited to share their experiences and thoughts about discernment and understanding vocation.


revelationsMonday nights at 7:30, Beginning July 10

Bible study is back! If the current U.S. presidency and administration is causing you to wonder if we're living in "apocalyptic times," then studying the Book of Revelation is perfect for this summer's Bible study! The Monday nights for this, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (6 to 7:15 p.m. for dinner beforehand at O'Shaughnessy's), are July 10, 17, 24 and 31.

Your "tour guide" on this journey will be parishioner Jerome Wilczynski. Jerome holds a Master's degree in Systematic Theology and New Testament from Catholic Theological Union, and a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He is Associate Professor/Core Faculty in the department of Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University, Chicago. The point of our study will be to de-mystify this all too often misunderstood text from Scripture. The main commentary Jerome will use to assist us in unearthing the rich symbolism of this book will be Wilfrid Harrington's Revelation from the Sacra Pagina series, in case you want to buy it—but don't feel you have to.


Summer Lineup Selected
The All Saints Book Club met on May 11th and decided on a lineup of books for the next year. The book club is open to anyone who enjoys reading. 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:
  • July 13 -  "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson
  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe
  • For additional information, contact Mike Burke (


    Individual Actions Towards Racial Equality

    Volunteer Opportunities, Events, and Recommendations

    (re)imagining: Racial Justice Summit Sponsored by YWCA Evanston/North Shore:

    Thursday, April 6 from 6 - 8 pm
    Friday, April 7 from 9 am - 4 pm
    Unitarian Church of Evanston
    1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL
    Goal: "To bring people of all ages and demographics together to deepen their understanding of their own racial identities, develop skills to work for change, formulate action plans and engage with others."

    For Information and Registration, click here

    "The Scottsboro Boys" at Porchlight Theater through March 12th
    A musical production that is getting rave reviews, "nominated for 12 Tony Awards, and presented in the style of the notorious "minstrel show", this true-life story of nine African American teenagers accused and put on trial in Memphis for a crime they did not commit is one America's most notorious episodes of injustice; inaugurating a wave of social changes leading up to the modern Civil Rights Movement."

    For information and ticket prices, click here

    Suggested reading, non-fiction: 
    Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson, January, 2017

    This book has been described as "...a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted."

    Recommended as a "companion piece to the film rather than a stand-alone book." One reviewer recommended "seeing the film first, and then using the book for meditation and revisiting afterward."

    Volunteer opportunity: GROWING HOME "We have a vision of a world of healthy people and communities. Everyone deserves to have a good job, and everyone deserves to eat well." Since 2002, Growing Home has trained and employed and, most importantly, given a second chance to people with employment barriers. You may be familiar with their Wood Street farm in Englewood. Their farms are the first and only USDA-certified organic high-production urban farms in Chicago, and because they strive to also feed their community well, all their produce is grown, harvested, cleaned, and sold within a 20-mile radius. Read more at

    Volunteer opportunity: Non-profit Reading In Motion has successfully refined its mission over its 30+ years to help give kindergarten and first grade students foundational reading skills they need to start on a path for lifetime learning. They partner with public school teachers and have been extremely successful in making a difference in children's lives. Click here for more info.


    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!

     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!


    Jeff Lee
    Dear Polly and All Saint's Kids,
    I am writing to you from a meeting of the board of Episcopal Relief & Development in Bogota, Columbia. We are meeting here to visit some of our partner ministries with people in need. I have seen the amazing results of this year's bake sale (in fact, I'm looking at photos of some of the cakes - wow!), and you have reminded me that we don't have to travel to Columbia or South Sudan to make a huge impact for the good of God's people.
    I am so proud and grateful for you and the work you do. You guys are heroes. Our friends in South Sudan will be blessed by your effort.
    In Christ,
    Jeffrey D. Lee
    Bishop of Chicago

    Sundays at 10am

    The phrase Imago Dei means the Image of God. Specifically, the image of God as it is found in humanity. The image of God in us - it is what makes us spiritual people - valued as whole and complete. What does it mean to creatively live as whole people? How do we live in relationship with others - respecting and sharing one another's security and one another's discomfort?

    Join us on Sunday mornings between services as we figure out together how to help one another take practical responsibility for living in this world - especially as racial and spiritual beings.

    True - our time will be uncomfortable because it will mean talking about race, violence, personal helplessness, and personal failure. Also true - this will be comforting and supportive because it will mean getting to be honest, practicing together, and caring for one another.

    Every week we will ask one another "What have you done in these past 7 days with who you are and within your sphere of influence when it comes to the realities of race?" the answers will be different for each person and it won't be a competition. We will be lifting up the everyday choices we make and don't make. Sometimes we will like what happens and sometimes we won't.

    And - we will be doing it together.

    The Middle Eastern refugees and immigrants served by the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society were deeply moved by the notes of welcome from All Saints. We shared them at our community lunch on Thursday, and now they will hang in our conference room to remind people of your warm welcome in the days to come. Thanks!

    Laura Youngberg

    breadbakersSignup online to bake for a month

    Calling all bakers! If you love the smell of fresh-baked bread filling your kitchen, please consider signing up to bake communion bread for our services. This involves a one-month commitment that you'll share with another baker, and you can do all your baking at once and add to the reserves in our freezer.

    Signing up is easy, just click here for our page on Signup Genius and reserve your favorite month.

    Contact Jennifer Simokaitis, or Anne Ellis if you have any questions.

    Yard Signs Available 

    Grow Community has created yard signs for anyone who would like to display support for our local public high schools. Signs and sign holders are available in the Reading Room.



    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.


    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.

    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.

    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.


    tinaParishioner, Tina Tchen, accepts Bishop Maryann Budde's invitation to preach at the National Cathedral Sunday, May 8. Click here to see the video.


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

    1883 Construction web 

    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.

    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.


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    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.