All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Our Amos Moment

July 10, 2016
All Saints Episcopal Church

It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? Just as my facebook feed returned to pictures of cute puppies and silly cats, this week happened – a week marked by violence, retribution, accusation, racism, fear.

Just three weeks ago, Bonnie stood here days after the massacre in Orlando and asked if we were willing to work on this “cancer of hate and violence, racism and homophobia prayerfully, tenaciously, steadfastly, and relentlessly.” (The Rev. Bonnie A. Perry, Sermon, June 19, 2016)   I would imagine that many of us thought –  Yes, yes, we will with God’s help.

And here we are again, when we thought it couldn’t get any worse… more lives lost, more hate spewed. An endless stream of news, video, facebook posts coming at us relentlessly.  And while in the weeks since Orlando, our horror may have diminished at the capacity of humans to mow one another down in hate and fear, the violence never really stopped, did it?  What Bishop Gene Sutton of Maryland calls the unholy trinity of poverty, racism, and violence – that unholy trinity continues to wreak havoc and pain  on a world, a nation, a city that I believe, has lost its way, that is no longer “plumb.”

And the Lord said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “a plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “See I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people, Israel; I will never again pass them by.”

The Book of Amos begins with God’s indictment on Israel’s neighbors – Syria, Canaan, Moab – for their injustice against the people of Israel. Then this prophet from Judah turns his attention to Israel and pronounces God’s judgment on a nation that has lost its way – where economic injustice, greed, indifference, and neglect of the poor abound; in a time where self-satisfaction and a believe that God is on their side rules the day.

“See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people….”

A plumb line is a tool used by builders and masons since the time of Ancient Egypt. It’s quite simple – a string attached to a triangular weight – that is used to ensure that new construction is upright or that an existing structure is square.  (I’m sure this tool was used quite often by Ron Young and his team during our recent renovation) You can’t just eyeball a structure to determine if it’s plumb.  Being out of square or not fully plumb may not be readily apparent.

And once you determine that something is out of plumb, you have several options.

  • You can ignore it (we did that for a long time here with our building and we know where that got us)
  • You can try and prop it up to bring it plumb or square (we tried that too without much long term success)
  • Or you can rebuild it (we finally recognized that this was the best option) And this re-building sometimes involves tearing it all down to start anew.

    A plumb line finds what can be a fatal flaw in a wall or a building. And as we discovered with our actual walls, you can’t prop up (at least in the long-term) what is not square or upright, you must create a new foundation and rebuild.

    “I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people.”   God has set the plumb line in our midst and we are not plumb.  As a people, as a nation, we are in an Amos moment

    Like Amaziah, priest of Bethel, we may not want to hear these words. “Go away,” Amaziah says to Amos, go somewhere else, to another land, go back home, anywhere but here!  It’s easy for those of with privilege, with comfort to say no to the one calling us to accountability.

    And what I know and experience about us here at All Saints is that as uncomfortable as it might make us, we are willing to acknowledge our place in an unjust system, a structure that is deeply flawed, that needs to be taken down and rebuilt.

    Amos’s words are meant to disrupt us, to shake us, to tell us the truth. The truth that in our country of 320 million people, there are more guns than residents; the truth that the deeply violent founding and growth of this nation was marked by subjugation, oppression and slavery; the truth that present day bigotry and racism infects us all; and the truth that police brutality (especially directed at African-Americans) results in little or no justice for the perpetrators.

    And this past week, and the week before that, and the months and years before that continue to point to these ugly and sinful truths. And while our natural inclination might be to look away from the pain, to cross to the other side of the road, to ignore the wall that is leaning right in front of us, to shut out the voices/the prophets in our midst calling for change, our readings this morning call us to stop, to pay attention, to offer healing, and to get involved.

    So what might that look like? I offer three ideas….

    1. We must continue to name the evils in our midst – system racism, white supremacy, unfettered access to guns, murder, callous disregard for human life, corrupt systems. And we must name these evils not just here but in our workplaces, our schools; at the playground and in the boardroom; in the coffee shop and in the halls of power.
    2. We can continue to offer space for healing and naming of the deep pain and fear that is in our world, in our city. Soon after the Orlando shootings, my dear friend Katie, who happens to be straight, sent me a message.  She said that as she was reading all the stories that came out after Orlando –stories of homophobia, violence against LGBTQ folks – she realized she had never asked me about my experience, what was it like for me as a lesbian; had I ever experienced the type of violence and hatred that people were sharing online.  And she invited me to share my story but importantly also acknowledged that I might not want to do that.  And in Katie’s act of care and concern for me, offering presence and a healing balm, I realized that I rarely have offered that healing space to my friends of color in times like this week or to those who may be in law enforcement.  We cannot heal all of the pain and the grief will continue, yet our presence may make a difference.
    3. We can acknowledge our connection to one another. There’s a scientific theory called quantum entanglement that I think illustrates this idea beautifully.  The idea of entanglement is just the idea that two things that are separated in space can still be the same thing.  And the particles within these objects remain connected even though they are physically apart – they are entangled.  What excites one, excites the other.  What moves one moves the other.  What hurts one, hurts the other.  (National Public Radio, Invisibilia, January 30, 2015) Scientific evidence for empathy.  And when we become entangled, we are changed. When we are entangled, we are neighbors.

    The lawyer testing Jesus, asking “who is my neighbor,” is trying to politely ask, “who is NOT my neighbor,” argues New Testament scholar Amy Jill Levine. “Who does not deserve my love, whose needs can I ignore, whom can I hate?”  (Levine, Amy Jill, Short Stories by Jesus, p. 85) To which Jesus simply answers, no one.  No one.  We are all entangled – science proves it and Jesus commands it.

    It is too easy to believe that the world in which we live today is the world we are destined to have. It can seem too hard to imagine something different.  Yet as people who proclaim the resurrection of Jesus, we are called to shape an alternative vision of the world we inhabit, one in which structures of hate and division are torn down and foundations of love and justice are put in their place; one in which we see each other – all of us – as deeply connected, entangled as neighbors – in which the longing to be in relationship, the longing for love is more powerful than the forces of hate and fear.

    UCC pastor, Acting Executive Director of the UCC Justice and Wellness Ministries, and Black Lives Matter activist, Traci Blackmon, wrote this past week, “Ultimately, the guns used to kill 5 police officers and wound six more and one civilian, and the guns used to kill Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Reykia Boyd, Michael Brown, Amadous Diallos, 49 mostly Black and Latinx LGBTQ people at Pulse in Orlando, 9 in Bible study in Charleston, and 312 in Chicago to date this year were loaded by the common enemies of fear and hate… not matter who pulled the trigger. We are all connected.  We must mourn it all.  And we must all love ourselves out of this.  Murder is a byproduct of people who have lost their love.  Love is our only hope.” (Rev. Traci Blackmon , July 8, 2016)

    The promise of Jesus’s resurrection, after suffering a brutal death at the hands of the state, is that LOVE wins. The love that is much more than a feeling or a hallmark movie, but the love that tells those who lost their lives this past week that they will not be forgotten and their deaths not in vain.  The love that fulfills a mother’s agonized plea that her black son be able to live in a world in which he can breathe and run and make mistakes that won’t cost him his life.

    In the statement this community developed and wrote on race last year, we vowed “with God’s help, to claim our responsibilities to overturn, step-by-step, systems of racial inequality…”( All Saints Chicago, Race Matters) Will we work to tear down the our of plumb structures of hate and injustice so that we might together build a new community – the beloved community of God?  Will we seize our Amos moment?


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    Dear Friends,

    Please mark your calendars for our upcoming Reality Fair on Friday, May 12th. Here's a link to volunteer. This wonderful event at Ravenswood School is essentially a 3D game of Life. The 7th and 8th graders pick a future occupation, are assigned a spouse (OK, not that romantic) and a certain number of children. Then they try to make it through a month paying student loans, taxes, and other assorted bills. My favorite station is the “Fickle Finger of Fate” where a student will draw a card and may receive money from a great Aunt’s estate or break an ankle and pay for an unexpected ER visit. It’s a wonderfully fun morning, designed to teach the kids a bit of financial literacy. If you can spare a few hours to volunteer I promise the event will not disappoint!
    Today I’m driving to Indianapolis to be a presenter at Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows’ consecration as the next bishop of the Southern half of the state of Indiana. I’ll be back for church on Sunday and am very much looking forward to hearing our interim music director, Colin Collette, preach.
    Following the service I’m going to take a week away to recover a bit from all things Holy Week and my mom’s death. Emily will be here and available to assist you with whatever you may need.
    Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday!
    All the best,

    May 12threalityf

    This year marks the 11th anniversary of the Reality Fair! On Friday morning, May 12th, RCS will bring this powerful learning experience to the seventh and eighth graders at Ravenswood School once again, and you can get in on the fun. Not familiar with Reality Fair? It's a financial literacy challenge where students receive a fictional job and a paycheck and attempt to navigate real-world monthly expenses without going bankrupt. We still need volunteers to serve as bankers, utility company reps, travel agents, car salesmen, financial counselors and more. It's a three-hour commitment you won't forget! 

    To sign up, go to this Signup Genius link. If you have questions about the event contact Helen Poot or Jennifer Simokaitis.

    To see Helen and Jen talk about the Reality Fair with Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries click here for the interview!

    ¡Veinte de Mayo! May 20th at 6pm
    The 5th Annual Mexican All Saints’ Mexican Fiesta will be held from 6:00 - 9:00 pm on Saturday, May 20.  Our special guest will be Padre Bayron Chanchavac, Priest in Charge of our partner congregations Santa María Virgen in Xalapa, and their mission La Família Sagrada in Alchichica.  Also featured will be music by Mariachi Herencia de México, Margaritas and other Mexican beverages, great Mexican food, and a piñata! We will hold both a live and silent auction of Mexican crafts, a custom painting by Lori Mueller, and stays at vacation houses including AJ Buckingham’s gorgeous guest house in Guanajuato, Mexico and the Jones’ Lake Michigan beach cottage as well as numerous other enticing items.
    The proceeds of the auction help support the programs of our two partner congregations. 
    What can you do?

    • Add the Fiesta to your calendar and purchase your tickets ($25 adult/$10 child) which will be available soon on the All Saints’ website!

    • Donate an item, activity, or vacation stay for our auction (bottle of wine, special meal, a few days stay at your vacation cottage, etc.)!

    • Volunteer to help on May 20 with setup and cleanup!  (You will still have plenty of time to eat, drink margaritas, and bid on auction items.)

    • Take Padre Bayron to your favorite tourist site or restaurant in Chicago or meet with him over coffee to talk about the exciting things that are happening in his congregation. He speaks excellent English and is a thoroughly delightful person!


    Please contact Dave or Karen Howe if you can help or need more information.
    Thursday, May 11, 7am - 3pm
    Since 1902, the Woman's Society of Winnetka Congregational Church has conducted a rummage sale on the second Thursday of May with all net proceeds awarded to Chicago area non-profits that support women and children. 
    Our community kitchen and food pantry, Ravenswood Community Services, is one of the beneficiaries of this great event. This year's sale is on May 11th, 7am - 3pm. 
    For more information, including lists of types of goods sold and media coverage of past years' sales, visit the Rummage Sale website
    Click here to view the event flyer. 
    Saturday, April 29, 2017 in the Parish Hall
    Level I: 9:00-11:30am -- Learn how to keep our children safe from sexual abuse in the church and in our community. Parents of children and teens in our congregation are especially encouraged to attend. This session is mandatory for anyone working with our children or youth (or hoping to in the future!), clergy, staff, vestry, and persons providing care to home bound members of our community.

    Level II: 12:30-3:00pm - How can we sustain healthy boundaries among adults in our community? How do we prevent the misuse of power as we minister to one another? How can we work together to safeguard the more vulnerable members of our community from emotional and sexual abuse? This session is open to all members of our community who are seeking to live into the fullness of our baptismal vow to "respect the dignity of all persons." Those working with Tuesday night guests would especially benefit from this workshop. It is mandatory for leaders of programs that minister to adults, clergy, staff, vestry, and persons providing care to home bound members of our community.

    Level I will be facilitated by Norman Linde, social worker/therapist who has worked extensively in this area and is a certified trainer for KGPS. Level II will be facilitated by Chaplain Jeanne Wirpsa, also certified by the Diocese to teach this material.

    Please register by Friday, April 21st so we can have adequate materials available. For further information & to sign up contact Jeanne Wirpsa via email or 773-316-6936 (cell).

    Cinco de Mayo Style- May 6 at 6pm

    What you ask, is 'What's Cooking at All Saints?' It is a chance for parishioners to come together to prep, cook, and eat a meal, with both adult and equally attractive non-adult beverages. It is a chance for a small group to talk, to get to know each other, and to share fun cooking tips and hacks.

    We are looking for 6-8 individuals to join us in the All Saints' Kitchen on May 6 at 6pm. Food (carnitas and more, perhaps) and beverages provided.

    Please email Joe Wernette-Harnden to get in on the fun.

    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.


    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.


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    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.