All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Progressive Christians in the Trump World

Matthew 5:38-48
February 19, 2017
Bonnie A. Perry

The Pew Research Center put out the results a couple of days ago of their poll on President Trump’s Executive Order on Travel Restrictions. Apparently 95% of the people interviewed had heard about it. 78% said they had heard a lot about it… Here’s the good news, 59% of Americans disapprove of it. A majority of the Americans interviewed disapprove of the Travel restrictions.

Now here’s some interesting and not necessarily heartening data: 49% of the white people interviewed approve of the travel restrictions. 50% of white people disapprove of it. While 84% of African Americans disapprove as do 74% of Hispanics. (An Asian cohort was not mentioned.)

Here are the numbers that really caught my attention. 76% of the White evangelicals interviewed approve of the travel restrictions. With 50% of the white mainline protestants also approving, while most Catholics 62% disapprove and 74% of those unaffiliated with a religion disapprove of the policy. Hmmph.

What the heck is Jesus saying to that? Or for that matter, the prophets, the saints, the sinners?

Seems to me, in our tradition, we have a fair amount written about welcoming the sojourner and alien, caring for the outcast, loving our neighbor as ourselves and even a very clear admonishment, to love our enemies.

* * *

I’ve just returned from an extremely beautiful place, filled with lovely people, that describes itself anecdotally and statistically as a non-Religious country. Despite the devotion that many in this country have to the Anglican Prayer book of New Zealand, from what I saw and what I’ve read, its quite possible that we are more familiar with it than most of the people who live in that island country.

I asked my New Zealand host, if she knew where the nearest Anglican church was. “No,” she said, “I’ve no idea.” Just then, sitting in the back of the car I looked to my left and saw St Martin’s [at St. Chad’s]. She passed by and had for the last 8 years, the local Anglican church twice a day in the mile and half she drove to and from work.

A day or so later, while teaching a sea kayak class in the Hauraki Gulf just off Auckland, I watched a group of people gathering for a full immersion baptism of one of their friends. I recognized what was happening long before one of my Kiwi students figured it out. When I suggested it was a baptism, he said to clear my possible mistaken impressions of his country, “That’s very unusual. We don’t do that sort of thing here in New Zealand.” He, had at that point, absolutely no idea of my day job.

Later on I told him that I rather enjoyed a good baptism…

Why be Christian? Having just returned from a country that is becoming more and more non-religious I find myself asking the question—why am I a Christian?

Because of my Christian beliefs do I live my life any differently from non-religious or areligious people?

Why are you Christian? More to the point—how are you a Christian?

This morning’s Gospel, is a significant section of the Sermon on the Mount. The chapters in Matthew’s Gospel where one could make the case, that Jesus boils down what we need to know, and how we need to act, to the very potent, concentrated essence of Christian actions and behavior:

Turn the other cheek
Go the extra mile
Offer your coat
Give to all who ask
Love your enemies not just our friends, not just our neighbors but love our enemies (think for a moment who that might be…)
Pray for those who persecute you,
Be perfect, as our Lord in Heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:38-48).

This then is what Matthew records Jesus saying as what he requires of his followers.

How’s that going for you so far?

Given this description, are you making it as a Christian?

Given the data revealed by the Pew Research Center, I’m pretty clear that there are a bunch of white evangelicals who are falling grievously short of Christ’s mark. But casting those stones are way too easy. The question here to be answered, for me is how far below the Christian line am I?

Where are you?

* * *

I spent a fair amount of time, reflecting on this passage: reading, researching…Lots of time. As soon as my spouse Susan warned me, “Have you seen the Gospel for this Sunday? It’s terrible, it’s the “Turn the other cheek one…”

In my study, on this terrible passage, what became quite clear is that many have tried to come up with alternate interpretations that would make this section more palatable, livable, do-able.

What the scholars of any repute have concluded is that Jesus meant every word he said, literally. That turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, is not “a passive acquiescence in the face of violence and harm.” But rather as theologian Matthew Myer Boulton says, “the centerpiece of this teaching is noncooperation with harm in all its forms.”

That is, you strike me, I will not strike you back, nor will I crumble and fall, instead I will offer you my other cheek so that you may reconsider your previous action. You ask me to carry your goods, as a Roman soldier was permitted to conscript anyone to carry his gear for a mile, then once asked I will offer to you twice what you require. I will do so in such a way that you may see yourself as an honored child of God. And hopefully in those two miles, I too may see past your oppression to your goodness.

Is this a rationale for bowing to abuse, staying silent in the face of oppressive destructive relationships? No. Never. Absolutely not. Nor can anyone of us, ask another to take on any of these activities. None of these actions can faithfully be executed if we lack freedom of choice or will.

But in those times and in those places when we have choice and free will, loving our enemies, turning our cheek, walking the extra mile offers us the possibility of creating a different world, a different place, one where executive orders and travel bans are repudiated by all, and the people who write them are loved into a different way of being. Imagine that one if you will. Love of that sort and that kind for all.

On most days, I call myself a Christian. And on most days I do want to be the person that embodies these beliefs. I want to say, “Hell yeah—with God and God’s help—I will do this.” Each day, I will try to do it again. I claim the gift of Christianity as the fuel that enables me to try, not alone, but with other equally fragile believers, one more time, one more day. Hell yeah. I will with God’s help.


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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.