All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

A Time for Solidarity

“Behold, how good, pleasant and sweet it is when brothers and sisters live together peaceably, as one.” (Psalm 133:1)

In the summer of 1966 the neighborhood adjacent to my South Side Chicago parish was facing its racial change, block by block, led by red-lining realtors. In contrast to the vitriolic reaction in our enclave months earlier, the local leadership here chose to make a positive response with an interfaith, interracial welcoming event at its little Foster Park. During the planning for this Foster Fest, the local clergy met one morning at the St. Brendan rectory where the priest, Fr. Peter Scholtes, led us with his guitar in singing a new song, which he wrote for the occasion, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

I recall how touched we all were in sharing Pete’s new creation, the melody his, the text inspired by verses from John 13: “Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” and from Ephesians 4, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Let us now sing this song, “They’ll know we are Christians….” (See your salmon colored insert.) Michelle (Mayes) will sing the first verse joined by the choir on the refrain, and then we’ll sing the remaining verses:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, 
we are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, 
and we pray that all unity may one day be restored: 

Refrain:
and they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love;
yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand, 
we will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand, 
and together we'll spread the news that God is in our land:

Refrain:

We will work with each other, we will work side by side, 
we will work with each other, we will work side by side, 
and we'll guard human dignity and save human pride:

Refrain

All praise to the Father, from whom all things come,
and all praise to Christ Jesus, God’s only Son,
and all praise to the Spirit, who makes us one:

Refrain

Now, in one of the most divisive hours of our history, in the midst of clashing ideologies, of fears, anxieties, manipulations and outright hatred, we need to be reminded that God calls all of us to live together as sisters and brothers, to live as one. The Psalmist called for a family of several brothers to stay together and not divide their inheritance, but rather keep the land intact for the family. This image is deepened in the Hebrew lesson, where Joseph, after many years, reconnects and reconciles with his brothers. “And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them and after that his brothers talked with him.”

But in today’s context, God’s word addresses us more broadly – everyone, from Miami to Moscow, of whatever religion, race, tribe, gender, politics, nationality, and any other persuasion – all human beings are called to live peaceably and harmoniously together. That is a tall order.

“But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said to the crowds: Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falls."

A young man came up to me after my Breadbasket book presentation at Harold Washington Library recently and asked, “what can I do in this current situation; I feel so helpless.” I paused for several seconds trying to collect my thoughts and then said. “You are OK to feel helpless. Alone we are pretty helpless; it is in community, in a cadre of concerned persons, in a congregation, a neighborhood task force, in any dedicated group, that we can begin to experience some strength. There is power in money, but there is also people power. And when we come together for a good cause we can begin to make change.” I think I used the word solidarity, but I may be reading back into that conversation, but it is precisely solidarity that I sense at the center of the Psalmic verse today.

On a larger scale I am reminded of Pete Seeger’s song,

One man's hands can't tear a prison down,
Two men's hands can't tear a prison down,
But if two and two and fifty make a million,
We'll see that day come round, We'll see that day come round.

The women’s marches in cities and towns across the land on the day after the Presidential inauguration last January, was a “two and two and fifty”, an act of incredible sisterhood and solidarity. I experienced that sense of togetherness along with several of you in our downtown Chicago witness that day. “Behold, how good, how pleasant and sweet it is when sisters and brothers live together peaceably.”

Back in the civil rights movement days, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. put together a fantastic team which moved forward with courage and with solidarity for the cause of racial justice. But even that team was severely tested. As racial tensions escalated dangerously in Memphis, Dr. King called his staff into special session in Atlanta. Rev. Jesse Jackson shared the following recollection with me when I interviewed him for my book on Operation Breadbasket.

Dr. King began, “I’ve had a migraine headache for four days from a lot of pressure and some attacks. It is clear we are split on the Poor Peoples Campaign. We are charged without having a game plan.” Andy Young interjected, “Doc, it’s going to work out.” King countered, “Andy, be quiet. Don’t say peace, peace, when there is no peace. Let me make my case.” King made his pitch to continue the Poor Peoples Campaign, even as events unfolded with the garbage worker strike in Memphis. Jesse Jackson and James Bevel kept demanding, “Where’s the hook?” After more heated discussion King persisted and demanded non-violence, saying he would write out a final salary check to anyone who would not hold the line. He left the room. The staff struggled and prayed. King came back in to find they had united behind him. Solidarity finally won out. The session ended when Doc summed up: “I think we need to fast and pray and move on to Memphis.”

“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, and we pray that all unity may one day be restored.”

What are the blocks to God’s command to love one another, to live together as sisters and brothers, to real solidarity with all humanity?

I think we are seeing it vividly on our streets today. It is an expression of anger, anxiety, fear, uncertainty all rolled into an attitude of hate. In his op-ed in the NYT on Tuesday, David Brooks wrote that our nation’s current anxiety is “not so much a fear of a specific thing but a fear of everything, an unnamable dread about the future.” He sees our own president terrified by the possibility of anxiety and escapes it by giving himself and now his minions of tweet mates a “series of explanations that are simple, crude, affirming and wrong.” To avoid this terrible anxiety you simply blame the foreigner, or the elite, the media, the migrant, the Muslim, or crooked Hillary. In the 1930s it was the Jews. Beloved, we are in a dangerous time. Evil has been uncorked and it has taken many forms. And resist we must. As a North Dakota father, Pearce Tefft, wrote so painfully of his son the other day:

“My son Peter, an avowed white nationalist, travelled to Charlottesville, Virginia, a week ago. I…wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home. I have shared my home and hearth with friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed. I have taught all of my children that all men and women are created equal. That we must love each other all the same.

Evidently Peter has chosen to unlearn these lessons, much to my and his family’s heartbreak and distress. We have been silent up until now, but now we see that this was a mistake. It was the silence of good people that allowed the Nazis to flourish the first time around, and it is the silence of good people that is allowing them to flourish now. I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home. Then and only then will I lay out the feast. ….”

Resist we must. Silence now is sin and speak out we must. But how? Right now the media makes it appear there is either demonstrating for so-called free speech and white America, or counter demonstrating against hate. That is a simplistic view. For Dr. King, remember, it was stick to non-violence, then prepare with fasting and prayer.

Let me share another experience of non-violent resistance. Back in 1977 the neo-Nazis tried to march in nearby Skokie. After months of struggle on the streets and in the courts that event failed, so these fanatics planned a march in Beverly-Morgan Park, on Chicago’s South Side. I was pastoring our Methodist Church in Morgan Park in those years. Our Clergy Cluster met to discuss a response. After a long deliberation we chose to simply ignore the march, to ask our people and the press to stay away. And it worked. Ridge Park was host to a few dozen Nazi’s, no press, no residents and hundreds of Chicago police; it was a non-event. Of course it will not always work out that way. But we need to be creative with acts of non-violent brotherly love.

The current divide is the polar opposite of God’s wish for us to live together, to sit together peaceably. An attitude of hate has become explosive, fueled by social media “likes,” by demagogues, by manipulators, by liars, by disrupters and destroyers of our civic order, by provocateurs for foreign governments, by conspiratorial fanatics, by any number of demonic and demented minds.

Even as we back away from this ignominious list of persons, including our own elected President, we need to look at ourselves, our own sins, our own sense of superiority, our own sense of pride, our own deep-down racist remnants, our own separatist leanings. God’s order to live and love in solidarity is a tall order.

As we read in First Peter, 4, “for the time has come for judgment”, and I would add repentance, “to begin with the household of God.” Then let us move “modestly” “humbly” toward communal and collective acts of non-violent resistance. Let us remember that violence only begets violence; we are called to live our lives as sisters and brothers together peaceably and harmoniously. “Behold, how good, how pleasant and sweet it is when brothers and sisters live together as one.”

Last April I went back to my old South Side parish, holding a 50th anniversary reunion of the Gresham Church youth group. During the conversation following my book presentation, one woman, whom I had baptized as a young teenager along with her sister and two brothers, told us that her fondest memory of the Gresham church was learning the song, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” She’s a long-time flight attendant and had just arrived the night before on a flight back from Dubai. She told us that in Dubai and in Muslim countries she often shares this song, and that the flight crews and staffers and locals often join in. Recently when they finished singing the song, someone piped up, “why can’t we sing it for ourselves: “They’ll know we are Muslims by our love”” and the gathered community, Christian and Muslims together sang, “They’ll know we are Muslims by our love, by our love; yes, they’ll know we are Muslims by our love.” It was a touching moment leaving not many dry eyes as we listened to this story.

Yes indeed, we are to live as the beloved community. And for us who name the name, “Christ has”, and I paraphrase Paul in Ephesians, “broken down all dividing walls, all the hostility between any of us, and has created in himself one new humanity in place of two, thus making peace, and reconciles both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death the hostility. So, Christ came and proclaimed peace to those who were far off and peace to those who were near.”

“Behold, how good, how pleasant and sweet it is when brothers and sisters live together in solidarity in harmony, in peace.” Amen.

 

Rev. Martin Deppe
All Saints Episcopal Church
Chicago, IL
August 20, 2017

 

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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,
Bonnie
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 (mebcat@gmail.com)

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 website@allsaintschicago.org 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 care@allsaintschicago.org. 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

Email info@allsaintschicago.org 

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.