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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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.