All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

A Friend I Can Do For —

January 12, 2014
Matthew 3:13-17
Baptism of Jesus
Bonnie A. Perry
-with excerpts from Anne Ford's book

I propose to show that our community kitchen and food pantry is the sacrament that has enabled All Saints to create a community that attempts to get to what God hopes for in the world, so that those hearing this sermon will come and visit and listen and learn.

Each of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have somewhat different descriptions of Jesus' early life beginning of his public ministry. Luke's Gospel has a lovely set of stories of Jesus as a child before he steps onto center stage. In John's gospel one of his first public acts is to change water into wine at a wedding reception because his mother asks him to. In Matthew and in Mark his public ministry as an adult begins with his baptism in the river Jordan, by John the Baptist.

"When Jesus was baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

A rumble in the sky, words from on high. And thus it all begins. His trip to the Jordan, being bathed in water, not really about forgiveness of sins, instead it is for him much more of a rite of passage: an outward visible sign that he is now doing a new thing, a different thing, a holy thing, a maybe— world-transforming thing.

For other people who came to John in the Jordan that day is was about having their sins metaphorically and literally washed away. For Jesus it was a outward visible sign that his time to challenge the world and create an oasis of hope, and a vision of change is beginning.

Baptism, in our tradition, is a one-time, public moment of making promises, vows and assertions about our faith, and the faith we hope to offer our children and signified by having water poured on their heads, their bodies, our head, our bodies: Water is the outward, visible sign of God's inward spiritual grace, water is the outward visible sign that God is acting in and through us.

As we will do at the 11:00 worship service for Finley.

Water in baptism is the sign that begins it all. In this passage Jesus rises from the water and those around hear and know that a new thing is upon them. They hear the thunder, the words and know the Holy is in their midst.

Baptism is wonderful, one of the activities I most enjoy as a priest. It is something we as a community do for an individual child, an individual family. And I love it. And as with all things, as with all things church, with all things, I realize I am wired to ask continually the question, "So what?" What does it mean, how does this lovely event, lovely snippet matter?

Christian Ethiscist, Stanley Hauerwas, says that Christians are called to create a community, "Capable of forming people with virtues sufficient to witness to God's truth in the world." (A Community of Character, 1982, p 3).

Let me say that again, 'Christians are called to create a community "capable of forming people with virtues sufficient to witness to God's truth in the world."'

What might be an outward visible sign of a community that is committed to witnessing to God's truth in the world? God's truth for our world—not a world where nearly 55% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 have experienced at least a year in poverty or near poverty, not a world where almost 50% of all American children have at some point in their childhood relied upon food stamps. Not our world as we know it—but our world as it could be.

What might be a sign of a community committed to witnessing to God's truth for our world?

I think, quite possibly, our community kitchen and food pantry, Ravenswood Community services, might be this Christian communities, outward visible sign of our belief that our world can be different, should be different, must be different.

I'm not saying our Tuesday nights are perfect, I am saying that they matter and that they may give us a glimpse of hope, a bit of truth, a portion of holiness.

Anne Ford's narrative and Charlie Simokaitis' photos portray that glimpse in their book, A Friend that I can Do For.

A Friend that I can Do For, is powerful piece simply because it is people's stories: about their lives. Neither the narrative nor the photos differentiate between the people who gather on Tuesday evening. It is a story of neighbors, "just neighbors" gathering, sharing, listening, talking, sitting and eating. What remains constant on a Tuesday evening: people come to our parish hall, come to our sanctuary and we are fed: literally, metaphorically, spiritually, physically.

Is it perfect? No. Is it Holy? Listen—you tell me.

Says, one Tuesday night regular: "It's one of the highlights of my week. It doesn't make me sad. Its sort of a social occasion. I see my friends, and I hang out for a couple of hours and have a meal. How often do you get to have a dinner party with your friends every week? [Where you don't have to cook and you don't have to clean up? If I were a good volunteer, I would clean up.]

The folks on Sunday morning, we look like we have our lives together. We can hide all of the things that are falling apart. Most of the folks on Tuesday night can't hide the fact that their lives are falling apart. They're much more forgiving. If you say something stupid or don't respond right, they don't judge. You're one of them." (P 3)

Another former regular says, "The last job I had I was working out of the YMCA that I live at. But I stopped doing that because I'm not ready to have all this extra money. I have to have a friend I can do for. If I'm by myself, depression will set in...I was house sitting for a guy who had to go to prison for two months. He came and dug me up from under the bridge to sit with this 80 year old lady till he gets back. The lady if she put anything on the stove to cook, she'd walk off and forget about it. I told her, "Don't cook nothing. I will cook for you."

I had money so I went to Aldi's. I cooked a duck. I had it on the table. I had candles lit. I ran to the liquor store and bought some Boone Farm Strawberry Hill. She tastes it—I made her a plate and everything—and she tells me in her 80 years of life, ain't no man in her life ever did what I just did." (P 5)

Another neighbor says, "I started coming here [to RCS] about a year ago. I like the way you have these ladies around that kind of hostess you. That just makes you feel more human. When you're homeless, you're most of the time by yourself, in your own thoughts. That's too much in the head. You go crazy and you don't even know you are crazy. But you have a nice pretty lady sitting by you talking all night, it reminds you that you're a worthwhile human being." (P 71-72)

And this, "I was a psychiatric nurse for a long time. [On Tuesdays] we set up a clinic and its fabulous. We started doing blood pressures and weights and a lot of health teaching. Then we began looking for places we could send people, because we don't prescribe medications.

These people are just a see of unmet health care needs. There are agencies that in theory provide care to them, but getting people connected is incredibly difficult. There's one agency that says you have to have an official note that you're homeless. Isn't that fabulous?

I have the luxury of treating people as whole human beings which is very nice." 

One more snippet which may sum up our Tuesdays, "If you have an agenda here, you'll go crazy. If you have an agenda that you are going to transform lives or whatever the hell it is you're going to do—No. I get to say hi to some people. I get to hug 10 people. They're going to tell me some stories; they're going to catch me up, they're going to tell me crazy stuff, I'm going to tell them crazy stuff. And then we'll clean it all up, put the chairs away, put the tables up.

That is the powerful thing we can do, is just love people. I'm not here to teach people. I'm here to love them. And I think that loving people is what teaches them. Maybe that's fudging it. But that's my story. And I'm sticking to it."  (P 32)

Christians are called to create a community, "Capable of forming people with virtues sufficient to witness to God's truth in the world."

That I believe is our calling here at All Saints' and Tuesday evenings for the last 20 is our attempt to create a glimpse and slice of God's hope for our world.

That's my story—and I'm sticking to it.


  1. This Week
  2. Service Times
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  4. Sermons

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.