All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

How Does a Country Go Off the Rails?

Bake Auction Sunday

February 26, 2017
Bonnie A. Perry

Good Morning!

Welcome to what I consider one of our most sacred holy days of the year: Africa Bake Auction Sunday. About 16 years ago, one of our young people, Hilary Warldron, (Hilary is now in her 30s and running our youth group) came up with the idea of having an auction, not a bake sale, but an auction to raise money. Over the years the recipients of the auction’s proceeds have changed, but what has remained the same, is that the money goes to people in need in Africa and our young people, specifically the children ages 9 to 12 run the bake auction and decide where the money will be allocated. For the last ten years, the young people have donated the vast majority of our not insubstantial proceeds, (some $20,000 a year) to our sisters and brothers in South Sudan.

We have a long relationship with Joseph Garang Atem, who is now the Bishop of the Diocese of Renk. Bishop Joseph has visited our congregation regularly for over a decade. On two different occasions we have sent parishioners to visit with him and his people. We know him. He knows us. When parishioner Connie Wilson was having surgery for breast cancer, I was there when he called her from South Sudan to pray with her right before she left for the operating room. He prays for us. We pray for him.

Life in South Sudan is dire. It’s been dire as long as we have been in relationship with them. I was thinking about it as I was preparing to write this sermon. When we started giving money to Renk, they were in the midst of a Civil war with the Government in Khartouem. Since then the people of South Sudan, won their independence and set up one of the world’s newest countries. I remember the year that bishop joseph travelled here on his brand new passport in October 2013 he was so happy.

Then just a few months later a disagreement between the President and the Vice President, led to the factions, who supported each man, to take up arms. It has continued, morphing into a full-scale conflict with devastating consequence, 3 million people are displaced, 5 million people are food insecure, thousands and thousands of people killed. South Sudan has replaced Afghanistan as the most dangerous place for aid workers. Violence against women and gang rape is now common place.

All of these developments make me wonder, make me mad, really you all had a civil war against the government in the North and now you are doing the exact same thing to the people with whom you fought Khartoem. How does that happen? What must that be like?

How does a government go off the rails? How does ill-conceived rhetoric suddenly lead to violence? Lately, I’ve gotten a better sense of how things can spiral. I have a better understanding of what it must be like to be an average citizen and watch people with governmental authority say and do things that are simply reprehensible. Let’s just say, I find myself understanding a tiny bit more what it must be like to be one of our sisters and brothers living in Renk, aghast at the violence taking place.

Interestingly enough, one of the things that all of the AID organizations say is that the Church in South Sudan is one of the few institutions still respected in all quarters, that and places of education are seen as centers in society where negotiations and peace deals and change and transformation can still be brokered.

I was texting with Bishop Joseph as I was writing this sermon and I asked him, for what, right now, for what do you most need money?

He said, “Our biggest priority is supporting education and women’s projects, which in turn support the care and education of their children.”

When I asked specifically, for what women’s projects he would like funding, he said, “Our women have set up a tea shop and cafeteria.” They sell food, and tea, hand made clothing and fresh vegetables.”

So. In addition to paying for the midwives, and Dr. Paul and more money for seeds and teachers, our friends need money to support the economic independence of the women in their community.

Susan and I were going to be in for our usual gift of $500. But after speaking with Joseph and thinking about just how much they need us. Just how horrible it can be to feel as if your government is off the rails, well she and I are now in for $1000. We can skip some dinners out. There is stuff I want, but its just stuff. I can certainly do without. Our friends in South Sudan need us, they need me, they need you.

All of the money from our bake sale, and every bit of cash or checks put into our collection today, (that do not say annual pledge) will go to our sisters and brothers in need in Africa. In South Sudan the church is transformational because it is a place that supports women, children and education. Let us use our gifts of this church, to help that church, to help a country whose government has gone off the rails.

Joseph’s final words to me were, “You may please ask your children to please pray for us.” And—“God bless you and thank you and keep going.”

So we shall.

The bake auction that followed raised more than $26,000 in an hour. It’s simple, 150 people write a check for $100 and suddenly you have $15,000 to change people’s lives and so we will keep going as Bishop Joseph asked. 

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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.