All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News

The Rev. Kevin M. Goodman

On Thursday evening, at the Democratic National Convention, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of the fallen Iraqi War hero Captain Humayun Khan, told a story.

Mr. Khan shared, "Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy — that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings. We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams. Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers. (I believe) Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son 'the best of America.' We can't solve our problems by building walls and sowing division. We are stronger together."

People cheered. Others cried. Many pondered the images of Muslims that have been held up before us in the previous weeks. I heard the story of faithful Americans. Others heard "those people are coming to kill us."

What story have you heard?

What story do you need to hear?

"The Wiz" debuted on Broadway in October, 1974. It is a musical retelling of The Wizard of Oz from the African-American perspective. It won seven Tony awards, including best musical. The story is well known. Dorothy is blown out of Kansas by a tornado. Her house falls on a witch. She travels down a yellow brick road, meeting friends who have been told by others that they are stupid. Have no heart. Lack courage. As they travel together, they share each other's stories, realizing that they have come to believe what others have said about them.

When "The Wiz" debuted to critical acclaim, my grandmother was genuinely perplexed. "Why did they have to take our favorite movie and tell it from the black perspective?" she would ask. I wouldn't call my grandmother a racist. Her father was a civil rights lawyer, a man she loved deeply. My pawpaw was the man I wanted to be. He was a faithful Catholic, a man of principle and reason, a lawyer who fought for those who had no voice, whose stories remain untold. He travelled all over Mississippi and Alabama, signing up and defending an African-American's right to vote.

I would visit him on weekends. The Ku Klux Klan would stop by to burn crosses in his yard. I was terrified. My pawpaw, - not so much. He would say, "these people are just ignorant. They don't know the world. One day Kevin, there will be no races. We will have loved each other so much, we will all be the same color."

Because he had raised my grandmother, because his stories shaped and formed my entire family, I was a little taken aback by my grandmother's reaction to "The Wiz." She wasn't a racist. But it was racism. It was something she didn't recognize within herself. Everything she read, every song she heard, every picture in magazine she saw supported and affirmed her life experiences. She heard and read and saw her story. "The Wiz" was not how the story had been told. When the popular narrative is challenged, we experience discomfort, discontent.

The stories around us are changing rapidly. We are so surrounded by bad news. A police officer kills a citizen over a busted out tail-light. An armed civilian kills cops from skyscraper rooftops and city street corners. Terrorists are killing everyone and everything. There's Brexit, a failed Turkish coup, Syrian refugees, unrest in Afghanistan, the Palestinian crisis, the Chinese encroachment, the Rio Olympics, the Republican National Convention, the Democratic National Convention, email theft from Russian Hacks, violence right here on the streets of Chicago, and it goes on and on and on.

We are so overwhelmed by these shifting narratives, we have no time to reflect on how these stories change us, challenge us, shape us, call us to something new. Often, we just have time to react. Stories shape and form us as people of the United States of America.

In the broadway musical "The Wiz," Evillene, the wicked witch of the west, owns a sweat shop. She enslaves her people, in order to crank out the latest fashions demanded by the residents of Emerald City - a city ruled by elite urbanites. The citizens of OZ control the poor and disadvantaged residents by encouraging them to dream about the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

"Live our life. See our story on TV. Admire our photographs in the Vanity Fair. Believe the promises of wizards and politicians and all of this can be yours."

When I can't find myself in the stories that surround me, I come to believe that my story is irrelevant. My life has no value.

What story are you hearing?

What story do you need to hear?

Evillene, the wicked witch of the west, sings an amusing musical number called "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News."

Evillene says, "I wake up already negative and I have wired up my fuse... When you're talking to me don't be crying the blues. You can verbalize and vocalize but just bring me the clues... If you're gonna tell me something tell me, something I can use but don't you bring me no bad news. Don't you bring me no bad news."

As an Emerald City outsider, Evillene is trying to shape her narrative. Control her story.

What story are you hearing?

What story do you need to hear?

Our Old Testament reading this morning is from the book of Ecclesiastes. It is one of my favorite books however calling it a book is misleading. It is an odd gathering of platitudes, of fortune cookie sayings, presenting a sarcastic yet whimsical look at the absurdities of this life. The sayings are attributed to Qoheleth which literally means "teacher."

Qoheleth is frustrated with the limitations of humankind and is downright jealous and angry with God who created all of this. Qoheleth's anger comes across as cynicism. God has freedom. Limitless. Is unbounded. But God, you created a world full of voices of dissent. I am right. The "other" is wrong. I have worked for all that I have but why? What do I get from all of this? What am I entitled too? Why do I feel entitled to things I did not even earn? Things I inherited from others. Is this vanity?

Is all of it just vanity?

In the midst of all the noise, the hatred, the blatant disregard for human life, the total disgust of the other, the teacher is struggling to figure out what is good and true and why.

The Good News for us is Jesus walks into our world, in the midst of all the mess, to change the narrative. To open our hearts. To challenge our thinking. To remind us of our story.

Sometimes I understand totally the frustrations of Qoheleth, the teacher of Ecclesiastes. The people of God have forgotten who they are. We have forgotten our Holy Story. We are not listening. We ignore God. We do not love our neighbors. We murder. We steal from the poor. Leave the hungry for dead. Do not welcome the stranger into our homeland.

Don't nobody bring me no bad news.

What stories are you hearing?

What stories do you need to hear?

Jesus shares stories of healing for the tossed aside and forgotten. Fair wages for the working poor, for all in the vineyard, and all you have to do is show up. The hungry fed. The dead brought back to life.

When the stories of ALL the people of God are heard and claimed as sacred, the mission and ministry of the people of God is clear.

Have I heard the story of a transgendered person?

Do I know what happens to a refugee family?

Can I possibly understand or imagine the amount of trauma experienced by a police officer during the course of a day?

Even Jesus was changed by listening to story.

The Canaanites are mentioned over 150 times in the Bible. They are depicted as wicked, idolatrous people who were descended from Noah's grandson Canaan. A Canaanite woman's daughter was possessed by an evil spirit. No one, not even Jesus, cared about the experiences of the Canaanites. But she yelled after him and demanded that he hear her story. Jesus's friends begged him to send her away. She is bothering me. She is yelling after us. She is a Canaanite. Who cares?

"Get away from us you dirty Canaanite woman."

Annoyed, Jesus said to the Canaanite woman, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs."

She answered, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

Suddenly, in an instant, Jesus' eyes were opened. The narrative in his head shifted. Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish."

And her daughter was healed instantly.

I take great comfort knowing that even Jesus had to listen to the experiences of others in order to change his prejudices.

What voices am I hearing and ignoring?

What story do I need to hear?

At the end of "The Wiz," Dorothy realizes she has been changed through sharing and hearing and becoming a part of the stories of her friends. She is able to recognize her heart, her brain, her courage, her God-given dignity.

Dorothy sings, "Suddenly my world has changed its face but at least I know where I'm going. I have had my mind spun around in space and thanks be to God I've watched it growing."

May it be so for all of us.


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Dear Friends,

maryjaneI am so very sad to tell you that my Mom, MaryJane Fahey Perry, has died. I flew to Virginia last night to be with my Dad and siblings. I will fly back Saturday night and will be in church briefly, but mostly I am coming in to celebrate my spouse Susan's installation as Senior Pastor at People's Church this Sunday at 2:00pm. Please join me there if you are able.

All my best,

Friends, this Sunday, March 26, I will be away to attend the funeral of a close family friend, Andy Becker, who died in a plane crash last week at the age of 33. I am incredibly grateful to Carol Reese and Jeanne Wirpsa, who are stepping in to preside and preach, respectively, on short notice. I also am so grateful to Colin and the choir, who will be leading gorgeous music (like this song), and to Polly Tangora and others who will be making sure things run smoothly. The strength and faith and talent of this place run deep.

I am available by email and phone, and I'll return Sunday night.

We will send a note next week with information about services for MaryJane. In the mean time, I ask your prayers for Bonnie, her father Ray, and all of her family during this terribly difficult time.




People's Church of Chicago, Sunday March 26, 2pm

susanhBonnie invites you to join her for the installation of her spouse, The Rev. Dr. Susan Harlow, as Senior Pastor of The People's Church of Chicago this Sunday at 2pm. A reception will follow.

People's Church is located at 941 W Lawrence. Parking is available at 850 W. Lawrence at the Chicago Lakeshore Hospital Doctor's Office building. Although not required to park, use of this "permit" would be appreciated, as it helps give organizers notice as to which cars are connected to Peoples Church.

For more details, see the Facebook event here.


The Communications Summit previously scheduled for this Saturday, March 25, at 9:00am has been postponed, due to Bonnie's and Emily's last-minute travel. It will be rescheduled for later this spring. Stay tuned.


Sunday, April 2 at 10am

asygEver played Human Rock, Paper, Scissors? Ever jammed in a drum circle? Ever had in-depth conversations with teenagers about how faith matters in the ups and downs of our lives? I'm guessing the answers are "No," "Not really," and "Not since I was a teenager." Well, this could be your chance to change all that.

All Saints Youth Group, or ASYG, is (literally) a growing ministry, and we are looking for additional help. On April 2 during Coffee Hour, we will meet in the Parish Hall to share what ASYG is all about and provide information about the many ways you can help support, from joining the leadership team to simply dropping off dinner... and maybe play Human Rock, Paper, Scissors...


Wednesdays, March 8 -- April 12, 7:00-7:30pm 
Evening Prayer with music and candlelight will be offered at the high altar on Wednesdays throughout Lent. 

Come, join us in taking time to pause and listen for God.


Wednesdays, March 8 -- April 12, 7:30-9:00pm 
For those new to the Christian faith or to the Episcopal Church, our 6-week Inquirer's Class, led by both Bonnie and Emily, is an exploration of adult spirituality by way of a "spirited" romp through history, prayer, scriptures, theology, church polity, and more. 
This lively series offers space to question beliefs, imagine possibilities, learn about All Saints', and make new friends. If desired, it may also serve as preparation for the rite of confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church in May or June. Contact Emily with any questions.


Beginning now and ongoing 
The All Saints' Listening Group offers ministry of presence to any member(s) of our church family facing an important decision. Perhaps you are at a crossroads in your career or you're deciding where to move or go to school. The Listening Group is happy to gather with you and provide a supportive, nonjudgmental space in which you can think through your questions more deeply.
Gatherings typically run for a couple of hours and are scheduled as needed. If you're interested in meeting with the Listening Group, or if you're looking to serve on the ministry, please contact Jess Howsam Scholl at


Sunday mornings at 10:15 beginning March 19
The Screwtape Letters by the Christian apologist C. S Lewis never grow old precisely because they are about me, you, and the world we inhabit. In a series of letters, Screwtape guides the young demon - his nephew Wormwood -- through the finer points of temptation, the weaknesses and foibles of human beings, and the disaster of his patient becoming a Christian.
On Sundays March 19, 26 and April 2, Jim Nixon will lead a discussion of these very human letters from 10:15 to 11:15 AM in the Reading Room.
So get the book (easily available on Amazon or local booksellers), grab a cup of coffee and join us in a reading and discussion of this perennial classic. 
Any questions? Contact Jim via email or 678.910.4923.


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.


Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

The Ravenswood Run website is officially open! 

Register now at their website here.

The race times (subject to change) will be 5k - 8:00 AM
Kid's Race - 9:00 AM.

Save the Date! May 12threalityf

The 11th annual Reality Fair will be held Friday morning at Ravenswood Elementary School. Please mark your calendars now, and we'll send more information and sign up instructions later. This is an incredible event which truly affects our children's lives.

If you have any questions, please contact Jen Simokaitis or Helen Poot.

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.