All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Grow Together

July 23, 2017
Paul Goodenough

My name is Paul. Aside from being a soon-to-be dad, drummer, and youth group leader here, I'm a chaplain for Bishop Anderson House, and I work at Stroger Cook County Hospital.

I love being a chaplain because I get to be in relationship with people like Raymond.
Raymond had a really terrible thing done to him. A lot of people would say he deserved it, because the terrible thing that was done to him was in retaliation for an arguably terrible, also arguably just stupid, thing that he himself had done. And for doing that frustratingly stupid and terrible thing, the person tried to kill him. And nearly succeeded. Raymond is lucky to be alive. However, Raymond was unlucky to be caught by the police, and arrested before he even got to the hospital.

So I had a few days to get to know Raymond before he would go to jail. The first time we met we had a long conversation. Raymond was in the midst of a painful process of meaning making. He really laid it all out there. Finally, towards the end of the conversation, he said tearfully and angrily, "I might have done something bad, but I didn't deserve someone trying to kill me. Two wrongs don't make a right!" I marveled at Raymond's ability to claim his dignity in what appeared to be a very undignified situation. He is a resilient man who has survived more trauma than anyone should have to experience.

Raymond continued to talk about the changes he needed to make, and he even made some plans for things he could do while he was in jail to begin the changes. We both agreed that he shouldn't try to make all these changes on his own, so my part of the plan was to connect him with follow-up spiritual resources.

So I called up my chaplain colleague who has a volunteer pass to visit people in Cook County Jail. I asked if he would follow up with Raymond. His reply laid out a tangled web of requirements and barriers for him to connect with specific inmates: there's no census available to him, his pass is only good for certain divisions, and even if he knew the division he'd still have to hope he was on the right tier, and even then he'd go door-to-door trying to find him.

The immediate conclusion I drew was that it is really, really hard to get people support in a place where they could use it the most.

After reflecting on the Gospel this week, I have come to another realization: People aren't weeds. But we've gotten really good at treating people like they are weeds.
Chicago is unfortunately a great example. Non-white people continue to be treated like invasive species. Make no mistake--Chicago's racial segregation was designed to weed out people based on skin color. Poor people-- disproportionately people of color--are often priced out of their homes, and lose those roots that are so important for community growth. Then we bundle our former neighbors up in poor neighborhoods, failing schools, and dehumanizing prisons. I witness the fallout from this vicious cycle every day at work. I've seen more than a lifetime's-worth of weeping and gnashing of teeth. I, however, am lucky enough to be able to turn off my pager at the end of the day.

The way of the world is too often, "weed out the problem people." The Gospel gives us another way, which is to leave the weeding out to God. I believe it teaches us this forbearance because to be human is to be a tangle of wheat and weed, good and bad, sacred and mundane. None of us is pure. Unfortunately, when we can't tolerate the weeds in our own life, we often turn that struggle outward, and make others scapegoats for our own struggles. The explosive version of this scapegoating is the stuff of shocking headlines. But there are much more subtle versions that we all can relate to.

Speaking for myself, it doesn't take long to walk the rows of my own heart and find a few troublesome weeds. That one--that looks like the time when I was riding home on my bike, someone cut me off, so...well, I gave him what he deserved, and just that time, two wrongs made a right. That one over there--a thorny one, for sure...I'd love to be more generous, but first, I need this cymbal for my band's next tour. And this one over here. Yikes. I'm going to have to call in the professionals on that one...or, how about I just avoid it completely and pretend it isn't there?

If we aren't to uproot these weeds, what are we to do?

Besides just waiting things out, I suggest we think together about that word "grow together." Let them both increase. There's a part of this that is truly "letting be," "allowing," sitting on our hands, but there is another part of it that is proactive. Don't check out, check back in. Stay in the field, because our work is not yet done. I will be angry at you Mr. Oblivious Car, and may you and I both do whatever it takes to get home safely. I will lust after those cymbals that seem to be forged from magic bronze, and I will make my monthly donation my paycheck's first stop. I will continue to be intimidated by you, person who could crush my dreams by saying "No," and I will schedule a time to have that vulnerable conversation with you.

What happens when we don't grow together? What happens when we either rip up the wheat with the weeds, or abandon the field altogether? We tear each other up, or enable the worst in each other.

To be clear, the Gospel does not command us to suffer abuse. So leave an abusive relationship. Stop enabling those who take advantage of you. If there is a dangerous behavior in your life, cut it out.

Which leads me back to Raymond. The people who he has hurt and estranged have every right to have cut off that relationship. e needs help, accountability, and boundaries to keep him and his community safe. He's dealing with quite the tangle of weeds. But he isn't a weed.

By effectively uprooting him and throwing him into a pit, we've made it nearly impossible to nurture the good and the true and the sacred in him. It requires heroic effort just to perform the simple task of finding him to continue a sincere conversation about his faith. Jail? Sure. But this kind of jail system? Surely there's a better way.

Grow together. For me, it's worth registering on the Cook County Department of Corrections website to visit Raymond. It's worth checking it out once, right?, to see what kind of opportunity for growth might be there. It's worth taking that first step towards building the relationships necessary to change the institution, so that people who need healing from a lifetime of moral injury have it, of all places, in jail.

There is fertile ground in Raymond, I've seen it. I'm sure you have people like Raymond in your life. I'm sure you have weedy patches in your life like I do. In that relationship that started there in that hospital room we began the process of growing together. And by hearing that startlingly simple phrase, "two wrongs don't make a right," Raymond helped me to face the weeds in my life, and begin learning to grow with them.

As we think about ways that to make peace with the weedy places in our lives life, let us practice making that peace right here, right now. This altar is a place where all things are welcome. Bring the weeds, and bring the wheat, and lay them here. This altar is a place where we root ourselves in the common soil of God's grace and commit to grow together.


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Weekly Message for December 10

Weekly Message for December 10

Dear Friends,    

Tomorrow morning, Saturday the 9th, from around 10am to 2pm, I’m looking for people who might want to assist me in doing some Christmas decorating for the outside of our church building. Ahn Gallagher has graciously agreed to hang some lights in our bell tower, now I’m looking for assistance is getting lights in our oak tree out front. I’ll be able to put on my climbing saddle and rig a belay and climb the tree, but it will be much easier and way more fun if I have assistance. Right now our beautifully restored building looks GREAT in the day and kind of dark at night. I hope to fix that tomorrow. Dress warm and come join the fun!
Two Wednesdays from now, on December 20th, our evening prayer will be extended to include more silence for reflection, more music for our souls, and an opportunity for anointing. Christmas can be a very difficult time, particularly if we are in the midst of a transition or have lost someone we love. We hope to create a time and some space to acknowledge those difficult feelings and offer some solace and consolation. I invite you to take an hour to care for yourself with some prayer and music.
This Sunday I’ll be preaching, Emily will be celebrating, the children will be rehearsing our presidentially-recognized Christmas Pageant, #HamiltonmeetsJesus, and Colin and our choir will be creating seasonal music that will lift our spirits.
I look forward to seeing all of you!
All the best,
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.