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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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.