All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Incremental Change

September 10, 2017
Bonnie A. Perry
Romans 13:8-14

So. Here we are. Tomorrow is the 16th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Yesterday's weather reminded me of the morning of the attacks. That incredibly crisp, clear, beautiful September time, when you wake up, walk around and try to decide, do I need a jacket or not? Now in the morning yes, but certainly not later in the afternoon, you know that sort of morning when all we are particularly concerned about is the typical, perhaps the mundane, the transient events of our existence that stack one on top of the other comprising the innards of our lives, piled between the big, momentous slabs of meaning.

So much of what is happening today, in terms of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, London, Paris, Barcelona, San Bernadino, Orlando, the list goes on, so much can be traced back to that day. A day when I awoke from my naiveté of how the United States of America, can be perceived. In those 16 years so much has changed.

Including, according to NASA, (that radical leftist agency), 16 of the 17 warmest years on earth have all happened since 2001, with 2016 ranking as the warmest yet. The data has not yet been compiled for 2017. But I can hazard a guess of where it might land. Climate change and the resulting alterations in our weather patterns are real. Ask anyone in Texas, Florida, or Puerto Rico, Oregon, Montana, Colorado, California or Washington.

Couple terrorism, and hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and wildfires of disaster-movie proportions, with a country politically torn and polarized and well its no wonder the New York Times ran a slight tongue and cheek article asking religion scholars as to whether or not the end-times are upon us.

As I mentioned in our weekly newsletter, the most interesting quote from that article came not from the academics but from science fiction writer John Scalzi, who said, "These aren't the End Times, but it sure as hell feels like the End Times are getting in a few dress rehearsals right about now."

Is it the end of the world as we know it? Perhaps. This is, I believe, is the new normal. This is the weather and world that humanity is in the midst of creating.

So what then is the Christian response? What is our response as individuals and as a Christian community of faith? Who are we? How do we talk to our children about our world? How are we called to be in the midst of these confounding realities?

The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the people of Rome, (the fact that I'm quoting Paul may also be indicative that the end times have arrived,) "Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." Or as theologian Eugene Peterson paraphrases the apostle Paul, "Don't run up debts, except the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along."

To which you may now reply, "Seriously Bonnie, the world is cratering and you are telling us to love each other?!" Our world needs fixes and solutions, not platitudes and wishes. Which brings me to unchallengeable power of the small and seemingly insignificant.

Once upon a time Great Britain had an absolutely terrible cycling team. When Dave Brailsford took over the team in 2002, in its 76 year history it had won exactly one gold medal. In 2008 at the Beijing Olympics they won 7 of the 10 gold medals, they repeated this performance in the London Olympics in 2012. Brailsford now leads Britain's first ever professional cycling team which has won three out of the last four Tour De France Events.

Here is what Brailsford did to transform Britain's cycling team, he broke down everything they could think of that goes into competing in cycling and tried to improve each piece by 1% they would achieve a significant compounded gain to transform their performance. And it worked. Small, achievable, repeatable, sustainable, incremental change. As Brailsford said, "Forget about perfection, focus on progression, and compound the improvements."

I happen to believe, that when we love we do just this. The love I am referring to is not an emotion, a feeling, or just an adjective. The love I speak of is a verb, an action. A repeatable, measurable, sometimes seemingly insignificant action, that we as people of faith are called to do over and over and over again; to love one another.

To love one another, to be in relationship, listening, hearing, sitting with the beliefs different from and other than our own. To wrestle with issues, that make us uncomfortable, vulnerable, angry even and to stay in the conversation. The issue of race and anti-black sentiments is not going away. We need to immerse ourselves in this conversation, learning and loving everyone involved. Repeatable actions, we return again to the discomfort and the dis-ease of racism, in all its forms, in this country and the benefits people who happen to be white have accrued from it. Uncomfortable though some of us may be—we return again, to learn and to repair. To love.

Love is building a community, a beloved community, when the world is falling apart. Love is reaching out in very real measurable financial ways to assist our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, for love is more than a feeling it is a measurable action, A repeatable, measurable action, of care and concern.

Our world's climate has not changed overnight, thus it will not be fixed with one or two grand events. Instead it will be righted as it was taken off course, bit by bit. Our love, the love we show this planet upon which we live, will be enacted bit by repeatable, measurable bit. This love is the love we need to teach our children now, for our passion will guide their actions.

Love, incarnated in small, achievable, repeatable, sustainable, incremental change.

This is the world we have created, we as people of faith are called to love this world, bit by bit to its wholeness.

For it is time, it is now the moment for us to wake from sleep, salvation is near, the night is far gone, the day is upon us.



  1. This Week
  2. Services Times
  3. Contact Us
  4. Sermons
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.