All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

wewill“We Will”

January 10, 2016
Bonnie A. Perry

“It’s hard when you don’t have anyone behind you. It’s easy to start something, but when you don’t have anyone supporting you, it’s easy to quit,” thus says the young man pictured on pages 402 and 403 of Brandon Stanton’s book, Humans of New York: Stories

Some of you have probably heard of the Humans of New York Project and Blog. Brandon Stanton had the idea of photographing 10,000 of the people who live in New York City. Part of the way through the project it occurred to him to also add a quote or two from the person pictured. Soon he found himself doing 20 minute interviews of the men, women and children who agreed to participate. The project then morphed into telling the stories, or at least bits of the stories of the strangers on the streets. Humans of New York: Stories is the result. The photos convey an image of the person, a snapshot in time, their faces and quotes hinting at the icebergs of their incredibly intricate lives that lie below.

The young man I mentioned earlier, I’m going to call him motorcycle man is pictured wearing a heavy leather red and black Honda Jacket, standing next to a Honda Street bike, helmet in hand.

He says, “My mother abandoned us [me] when we were 16. She was a single mom raising four kids, and one day she just said, '______________you' and left.” He goes on to tell of how he supported himself with a job he had in the afternoon, going to school in the morning, living in abandoned buildings never telling anyone at school. He says, he barely got through high school and when he went to college, he had to take all remedial classes and pretty much do it all over again. But he is the first person in his family to get a college degree.

But he says, “If you don’t have anyone supporting you, its easy to quit. Because I think no matter what we say, the main reason we do things is because we are trying to please somebody. And when things get tough, that helps keep you going.” He continues, “I tried to take boxing lessons once. And every time I had a fight, there was nobody in the stands cheering for me. Whenever things were going well for my opponent, I could hear all of his friends and family encouraging him. Whenever things were going well for me, there was silence.”

“Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?”

Thus is the question asked of all of us, when we baptize Hattie, Henry and Baxter.

What’s your answer?

The prayer book indicates that all who are gathered, respond by saying, “We will.”

Which is polite and right and expected, but are our responses anything more than a pro forma answer?

Maybe. Maybe not.

What does an embodied, “We will,” look like?

Does it mean you have to be the boring church person? Sitting around discussing bible stories? Maybe—I for one would have enjoyed that, but by my own admission I’m a geek. And a priest.

That said, the Gospel story about the paralyzed man whose friends decide to put him on a stretcher and take him over to meet Jesus to see if Jesus can heal him—remember that one? Turns out the place where Jesus is preaching and teaching is packed, overflowing with people. But rather than turning away and giving up the paralyzed man’s friends dig a hole in the roof of the building and lower him down through the top so that his stretcher lands right in front of Jesus. I love that story—for me it’s literally and metaphorically about prayer. Sometimes I cannot get myself to Jesus. Sometimes I need help from my friends. Many times those friends do, as anyone of you would do, they go a step beyond. And because of their care, the man finds Jesus. He is healed. That story is at least as cool and compelling as Good Night Moon! 

Does it mean, taking a week off from work and driving a young person whose mom was not well enough up and down the East Coast looking at and finding the perfect college? That may be a little extreme, but it happened here.

Does it mean, being the person who has a close enough relationship with a young person so that when they go to a party in high school and somehow wind up drinking too much, you get called to drive that young person home? Again a bit extreme—but it happened here.

Does it mean sitting down with a 16 year old and offering contextual appropriate dating advice? Happened here.

Does it mean, taking the time to learn the names of the children who sit next to, or walk by you? Talking to the young people who do such an amazing job in our pageant? Does it mean having appropriate conversations and interactions with them? Being the adult who takes them seriously? Happens here. 

Do you remember the adults who took you seriously as a young person? Remember how incredibly important they were to you?

Will all of you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?

It’s easy to start something but when you don’t have someone supporting you its easy to quit, that absence of support is deafening.

In the midst of baptizing Hattie, Henry and Baxter we are promising to be there for them. May we do so. Amen.

Copyright Bonnie A. Perry January 2016

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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.