All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

A New Second City...?

Jeremiah 33:14-16

A failed city. A corrupt city. A city where wealth and power are worshipped and the poor are shuttled to the side and ignored. A place of chaos, violence and segregation. Rulers hanging on: Making deals and plying bargains. A failed city. A corrupt city. Thus it was said of Jerusalem in 587, as the prophet Jeremiah predicted its fall, foretold of its coming destruction.

I wonder when the people of faith in Jerusalem looked around and said, "This is not as it should be." Was it when Jeremiah first spoke, or was it more likely when the Babylonians made it through the breach in the walls and began to pour through the streets?

For years Jerusalem had been hanging on—living in a netherworld between the Assyrians, the Egyptians and now the Babylonians. For years the prophets have been saying to the leaders of Jerusalem you are corrupt change your ways. Or else...

Ages ago, far away, different time, different place. And yet I wonder what the prophets, Micah, Isaiah and Jeremiah would have to say to us these days in Chicago, this second city of ours.

Much has been said, some has been heard, and even a bit understood about the systematic, institutional racism of the usual business of our city. I feel no need to repeat what anyone of us can read on every third post of our FB feed. My question for us given all that has happened in our city and country this past year is: Will the egregious murder of Laquan McDonald be what finally shoves the silent, complacent majority of this city (of which I count myself) into a prolonged, profound, movement for change? Will this be the event that propels us into active solidarity with our black and brown sisters and brothers who are demanding change?

Yes, this congregation has been working. We've done more to begin educating ourselves about systemic racism in the past year than we've done in the past 25 years put together. That is however, frankly, something of a low bar. But yes, we have not been ignoring the world.

But, as I watch things unfold in the city and across the country I find myself wondering if what we are doing is way too little, way too late. Then a tide of gelatinous hopelessness rises over me. I am left feeling inept and marooned. I wonder if that might be something like how the ancients of Judah and Jerusalem must have felt. Exiled, overwhelmed with the sin of their complicity and despair at anything ever changing.

That then is when the prophet Jeremiah, who has spent chapter and verse telling the people of the ways that they have failed to honor God and their covenant with the Holy, it is then when Jeremiah offers seeds of hope. A promise and a vision of what could be. Jeremiah ceases to tear down and pluck out and instead begins to plant and sew seeds of hope.

He says, "There are days surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promises I made to the House of Israel and House of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David...Judah will be saved, Jerusalem will live in safety."

A vision of a new Jerusalem.

Jeremiah says to the people, there is something more to come. The difference between people of faith and people of despair is that people of faith have hope. People of faith have hope in something more. Their actions reveal their belief in something more. God through Jeremiah is promising the ancient people of Jerusalem something more. God through Jeremiah is promising us the same. It is our choice whether we act on or ignore that hope.

As biblical theologian Walter Brueggemann says, The people who stay close to God's promises are very odd people, who will never be 'subsumed' either under the false promises of empires or under the large despairs of a failed city. After the failed city and the false promises of the empire, there persist these promises, the God who makes them, and the people to whom they are made. The promises, the God, and the people constitute an always new possibility in history, a possibility undaunted by the... empire. (P 269 A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming 1998.)

It is tremendously difficult to create and live into transformation if we have no visual image of what that might be. What my friends would be a concrete vision of change and transformation look like in our own city, in our own lives?

To start this process of transformation I suggest that there are some of us, such as myself, who must begin first with a confession of sin. 

To frame some of our personal and institutional sins of racism I offer the following statement constructed by a group in our congregation working on confronting systemic racism:

The blood of the dead is calling us to repent for our sins of racism.

We confess that when we do nothing, we permit the neglect, abuse, and murder of our black and brown sisters and brothers.

God yearns for us to care, to act, for all to be set free.

Longing for justice, learning from history, listening to voices of truth, we vow, with God's help, to claim our responsibilities to overturn, step-by-step, systems of racial inequality.

And so we build the beloved community of God.

So that all may live.

May we this day, begin to live into a new city, a new way, so that all may live.

Silent no more.

Copyright Bonnie A. Perry December 2015


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Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Here is a link to download Bonnie's address.

Weekly Message for February 18

Weekly Message for February 18

Dear Friends,    


How much longer will the killing continue? 
Here are some groups and activities you might consider supporting with your time and your money: 
  • The IL Council Against Handgun Violence 
  • Moms Demand Action 
  • Gabby Giffords' PAC 

  • And here's a list of congressional representatives who have received the most amount of money from the National Rifle Association. Apparently they are all praying for the people in Florida directly affected by our country’s latest mass shooting. I invite you to pray for their souls and to drop them a note wondering if God is answering their prayers. Will it make a difference? I don’t know. But, being held hostage by a diabolical association that has convinced our elected officials that it is the God-given, constitutionally-sanctioned right of every American to wander around with a semi-automatic rifle is absurd. Seems like all of us ought to start loudly pointing out this insanity.
    I’ll be at the Moms Demand Action Lakeview gathering on the 24th of February. Let me know if you’d like to come with me. Please let me know what other courses of action you plan to take to end gun violence in our country.
    This evening, All Saints’ will be hosting a gathering for the friends, family, and neighbors of our long-term neighbor John Vanzo at 7:00. Tomorrow morning at 10:30 there will be a visitation in the sanctuary and a memorial service at 11:00 am. All are welcome. 
    I’m super excited that we will finally kick off the All Saints’ Youth Group with an overnight this Saturday. Please RSVP to Hilary Waldron if your 7-12 grade child is planning on attending. 
    Following the 11:00 Worship service we will have a Newcomer’s Brunch at O’Shaughnessy’s at 12:15. Please join us!
    This Sunday, Emily will be preaching, I’ll be celebrating, and our choir will be singing some wonderfully moving Lenten music. It seems like the right time to be praying and repenting. So please come and join me.
    All my best,


    Memorial Service for John Vanzo

    Memorial Service for John Vanzo

    AUGUST 13 2013 11The memorial service for our friend and neighbor John Vanzo will be held at All Saints' this Saturday the 17th, at 11:00 am. There will be a visitation in the sanctuary prior to the service, beginning at 10:30am. All are welcome. 

    On Friday evening, the 16th, we will host a time of conversation and story telling for John's friends and family. All are invited from 7 to 9pm to share a drink, and hear and tell a favorite story of the very many sides of John.

    May John's soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


    Lenten Evening Prayer

    Lenten Evening Prayer

    On Thursdays, February 15-March 22, brief services of Evening Prayer will be offered at 7:00pm, with scripture, poetry, and song. Come find rest for your souls.

    Inquirers’ Class

    Inquirers’ Class

    On Thursdays, February 15—March 22, the Inquirers’ Class will take place in the Reading Room next to the sanctuary. Designed especially but not exclusively for those new to All Saints’ and/or the Episcopal Church, this 6-week series is an exploration of adult spirituality through history, prayer, scriptures, theology, church polity, and more. If desired, it may also serve as preparation for the rite of confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church in May or June.

    The book we’ll refer to occasionally in the class is called Jesus was an Episcopalian (and you can be one, too!): A Newcomer’s Guide to the Episcopal Church by Chris Yaw. If you’re interested in joining the class, consider getting a copy to look over.

    Contact Bonnie or Emily for more info.

    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!

    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.

    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 

    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.