All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Speak in the Storm

The Rev. Emily Williams Guffey 
All Saints' Episcopal Church, 
Chicago 21 June 2015 
• Fourth Sunday after Pentecost • Proper 7B 
Mark 4:35-41

Hi, I'm Emily, and this is my first Sunday here at All Saints'. I have been looking forward to this day for a long time.

I was talking with my mom and dad last night and realized that I've been discerning a call to ordained ministry for twelve years. More than that if you count high school and college, when I changed my major a million times, trying to figure out what it was God wanted from me. I've spent the past eight years in formal discernment in The Episcopal Church. In that time, I've worked in hospitals, restaurants, and also in churches as an organist and choir director. I went to Northwestern for college, then came back to Evanston to Garrett-Evangelical Seminary for a Master's in Music Ministry, and most recently I've been at Virginia Seminary for a Master of Divinity.

I say this just so that you know a little bit about me and where I've come from, and how long I have been looking forward to this day. I am so excited that your discernment and my discernment have led me right here.

If you think about it, someone's first day also means that they've never done this before. I'll be learning lots and lots as I go, and I ask your patience and support. Bonnie, I'm grateful for this one Sunday before you leave me in charge for two weeks. By tomorrow, I'm sure that I'll know exactly what I'm doing!

On this first day, I can't help but think of another important "first day" in my life: the day my first child was born. Like today, I had been anticipating that day for quite some time. Being pregnant gives you clues that something is changing. So, at that time — like the time I just spent in seminary — I read lots of books about babies, went to classes about what to do with said babies, acquired at least some of the stuff people recommend you have for babies, and took in lots of advice from others who knew about babies.

But none of this really prepared me for the day I met my baby. None of this really prepared me for the steep learning curve that is being a new parent. In a day, I went from thinking I knew about babies to thinking, "Oh my gosh, what do I do now? I don't know what I'm doing!" In a day, I went from well-rested to...well, not. In a day, I went from never having met this little person to being absolutely in love with him.

And while I'm thinking — and hoping — that ministry with you will afford me more sleep than a new baby will (please), know that I will love you and cherish you, as I do my own children. Later this year, it is you - and the bishop - who will make me a priest. I become who I am through you, just like children make someone into a mother or a father.

So as a parent and as a person of faith, this week has been tough, hasn't it. More news of ecological demise. Maybe you saw the report foretelling the extinction of animals at a much more rapid pace that usual — even classic animals like lions and tigers, the animals my kids learn to mimic even before they learn regular daily words. More incomprehensible violence, as a racial terrorist walked into a church — just like this — and killed nine black Christians at prayer, just as we are today.

These days are stormy. Terror and injustice crash like wind and waves all around us. I think - like the disciples in the Gospel - that we just might be perishing by the weights of racism, and our own despair and hopelessness. And where is Jesus? Asleep? Seems like it.

In this storm I have looked for comfort. These past few days, I have found it in the words of one of my mentors, a priest who mentored me in Washington, DC, when we were both there. Now, he is living in South Carolina. He is African- American, he is wise, he is bold, and he is full of words. The morning after the Charleston massacre, he offered these:

"I sought and found, I trust through the leading of the Spirit, who can illumine truths that I, in my aggrieved blindness, cannot see, two comforts.

One. I do and dare believe that there are more of us who live and move and have our being within the ethical economy of good will than there are those of us in whose hearts evil prospers.

Two. Those of us who still, after innumerable assaults to the soul of grievous experience, whether personal or that of others, can wince in agony means that we are not morally benumbed and have retained the quintessential elements of sensibility and sensitivity that compel our deeper commitment to love and justice for all." (The Rev. Paul Roberts Abernathy, via Facebook, June 18, 2015)

That he could find and share these words just hours after the massacre — which, as an African-American clergyman in South Carolina, must have cut into his heart in ways I may not fully understand — both impressed me and comforted me.

More comforting still, though, is how I see the sensitivity of which he speaks, this compulsion toward love and justice, at play here at All Saints'. See, on Tuesday night I had what you might call a "quintessential All Saints' moment". It was about eight thirty, and I had just finished washing dishes after the Community Dinner. (Or really, had just learned about the whole dishwashing system and had done one small part: I watched that dish sanitizer really well!) And I came upstairs to the vestry meeting.

Now I have been to a few vestry meetings before, and they were not the most engaging conversations. But here, I sit down, my hands still a little wet, and someone asks me, "What might a sacred conversation about racism be like? We've been talking about it," she continues, "and we'd like to ask you. What might a sacred conversation about racism be like?"

And I thought, "Of course. Of course this is what the vestry is talking about, because this is All Saints'. And All Saints' is a place where we talk about the things that need to be talked about."

In the meeting, we went on to watch a documentary called Cracking the Codes, which is designed to illuminate issues related to racism, and to help folks talk about them. When someone invites you to watch the documentary, I encourage you to do so. It really is good.

And I have a hunch that when we gather to talk about racism, when we gather for these awkward and emotional conversations that perhaps we'd rather avoid, we will begin to see Jesus right there — awake, not sleeping. We'll hear him there whispering "hush!" to the storm.

But paradoxically, if we stay silent, if we don't talk about what needs to be talked about, we might think the storm will just pass along on its way — but it will not. It will rage on and on; if we stay silent, then the storm will never be silent. If we don't make time – if we don't dare — to have holy, hard conversations about racism, then what good is it to pray for safety or comfort or peace?

I find it hard to pray to God for things that I'm not willing to take part in, to help bring about. In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. said that "there is a creative force in this universe working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that [like Jesus in our Gospel today] is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows."

All Saints', in my few days with you, I have heard and I have seen that you are people who pray with your hands and your feet and your hearts. Today I ask you to remember that whenever you do so, whenever you seek lasting peace perhaps at the expense of your own comfort or fears, you indeed are of that creative force that will bring down evil. Please, let me join you. 

  1. This Week
  2. Service Times
  3. Contact Us
  4. Sermons


Dear Friends,

maryjaneI am so very sad to tell you that my Mom, MaryJane Fahey Perry, has died. I flew to Virginia last night to be with my Dad and siblings. I will fly back Saturday night and will be in church briefly, but mostly I am coming in to celebrate my spouse Susan's installation as Senior Pastor at People's Church this Sunday at 2:00pm. Please join me there if you are able.

All my best,

Friends, this Sunday, March 26, I will be away to attend the funeral of a close family friend, Andy Becker, who died in a plane crash last week at the age of 33. I am incredibly grateful to Carol Reese and Jeanne Wirpsa, who are stepping in to preside and preach, respectively, on short notice. I also am so grateful to Colin and the choir, who will be leading gorgeous music (like this song), and to Polly Tangora and others who will be making sure things run smoothly. The strength and faith and talent of this place run deep.

I am available by email and phone, and I'll return Sunday night.

We will send a note next week with information about services for MaryJane. In the mean time, I ask your prayers for Bonnie, her father Ray, and all of her family during this terribly difficult time.




People's Church of Chicago, Sunday March 26, 2pm

susanhBonnie invites you to join her for the installation of her spouse, The Rev. Dr. Susan Harlow, as Senior Pastor of The People's Church of Chicago this Sunday at 2pm. A reception will follow.

People's Church is located at 941 W Lawrence. Parking is available at 850 W. Lawrence at the Chicago Lakeshore Hospital Doctor's Office building. Although not required to park, use of this "permit" would be appreciated, as it helps give organizers notice as to which cars are connected to Peoples Church.

For more details, see the Facebook event here.


The Communications Summit previously scheduled for this Saturday, March 25, at 9:00am has been postponed, due to Bonnie's and Emily's last-minute travel. It will be rescheduled for later this spring. Stay tuned.


Sunday, April 2 at 10am

asygEver played Human Rock, Paper, Scissors? Ever jammed in a drum circle? Ever had in-depth conversations with teenagers about how faith matters in the ups and downs of our lives? I'm guessing the answers are "No," "Not really," and "Not since I was a teenager." Well, this could be your chance to change all that.

All Saints Youth Group, or ASYG, is (literally) a growing ministry, and we are looking for additional help. On April 2 during Coffee Hour, we will meet in the Parish Hall to share what ASYG is all about and provide information about the many ways you can help support, from joining the leadership team to simply dropping off dinner... and maybe play Human Rock, Paper, Scissors...


Wednesdays, March 8 -- April 12, 7:00-7:30pm 
Evening Prayer with music and candlelight will be offered at the high altar on Wednesdays throughout Lent. 

Come, join us in taking time to pause and listen for God.


Wednesdays, March 8 -- April 12, 7:30-9:00pm 
For those new to the Christian faith or to the Episcopal Church, our 6-week Inquirer's Class, led by both Bonnie and Emily, is an exploration of adult spirituality by way of a "spirited" romp through history, prayer, scriptures, theology, church polity, and more. 
This lively series offers space to question beliefs, imagine possibilities, learn about All Saints', and make new friends. If desired, it may also serve as preparation for the rite of confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church in May or June. Contact Emily with any questions.


Beginning now and ongoing 
The All Saints' Listening Group offers ministry of presence to any member(s) of our church family facing an important decision. Perhaps you are at a crossroads in your career or you're deciding where to move or go to school. The Listening Group is happy to gather with you and provide a supportive, nonjudgmental space in which you can think through your questions more deeply.
Gatherings typically run for a couple of hours and are scheduled as needed. If you're interested in meeting with the Listening Group, or if you're looking to serve on the ministry, please contact Jess Howsam Scholl at


Sunday mornings at 10:15 beginning March 19
The Screwtape Letters by the Christian apologist C. S Lewis never grow old precisely because they are about me, you, and the world we inhabit. In a series of letters, Screwtape guides the young demon - his nephew Wormwood -- through the finer points of temptation, the weaknesses and foibles of human beings, and the disaster of his patient becoming a Christian.
On Sundays March 19, 26 and April 2, Jim Nixon will lead a discussion of these very human letters from 10:15 to 11:15 AM in the Reading Room.
So get the book (easily available on Amazon or local booksellers), grab a cup of coffee and join us in a reading and discussion of this perennial classic. 
Any questions? Contact Jim via email or 678.910.4923.


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.


Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

The Ravenswood Run website is officially open! 

Register now at their website here.

The race times (subject to change) will be 5k - 8:00 AM
Kid's Race - 9:00 AM.

Save the Date! May 12threalityf

The 11th annual Reality Fair will be held Friday morning at Ravenswood Elementary School. Please mark your calendars now, and we'll send more information and sign up instructions later. This is an incredible event which truly affects our children's lives.

If you have any questions, please contact Jen Simokaitis or Helen Poot.

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.


faceb   twit   smallmail

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.