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
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  4. Sermons
Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Annual Meeting Jan. 28, 2018: Rector's Address

Here is a link to download Bonnie's address.

Weekly Message for February 18

Weekly Message for February 18

Dear Friends,    


How much longer will the killing continue? 
Here are some groups and activities you might consider supporting with your time and your money: 
  • The IL Council Against Handgun Violence 
  • Moms Demand Action 
  • Gabby Giffords' PAC 

  • And here's a list of congressional representatives who have received the most amount of money from the National Rifle Association. Apparently they are all praying for the people in Florida directly affected by our country’s latest mass shooting. I invite you to pray for their souls and to drop them a note wondering if God is answering their prayers. Will it make a difference? I don’t know. But, being held hostage by a diabolical association that has convinced our elected officials that it is the God-given, constitutionally-sanctioned right of every American to wander around with a semi-automatic rifle is absurd. Seems like all of us ought to start loudly pointing out this insanity.
    I’ll be at the Moms Demand Action Lakeview gathering on the 24th of February. Let me know if you’d like to come with me. Please let me know what other courses of action you plan to take to end gun violence in our country.
    This evening, All Saints’ will be hosting a gathering for the friends, family, and neighbors of our long-term neighbor John Vanzo at 7:00. Tomorrow morning at 10:30 there will be a visitation in the sanctuary and a memorial service at 11:00 am. All are welcome. 
    I’m super excited that we will finally kick off the All Saints’ Youth Group with an overnight this Saturday. Please RSVP to Hilary Waldron if your 7-12 grade child is planning on attending. 
    Following the 11:00 Worship service we will have a Newcomer’s Brunch at O’Shaughnessy’s at 12:15. Please join us!
    This Sunday, Emily will be preaching, I’ll be celebrating, and our choir will be singing some wonderfully moving Lenten music. It seems like the right time to be praying and repenting. So please come and join me.
    All my best,


    Annual Bake Auction

    Annual Bake Auction

    Dear Friends,
    For nineteen years, All Saints' has been creating an Africa Bake Auction that changes people's lives. Last year we raised over $26,000 by buying cakes that we baked! With the money raised during the auction between our 9am and 11am worship services, our young people chose to fund:
  • wells and clean water for people in South Sudan
  • a women's collective tea store, creating a place for women entrepeneurs
  • scholarships for Sudanese refugees in Uganda
  • financial aid for two scholars working on LGBT issues in Africa
  • health care for women, children, and men in the Diocese of Renk, South Sudan
  • In terms of what it buys in South Sudan, our money is multiplied by a factor of ten. And now, more than ever, our assistance is needed. What you do--what we give--helps people so very much.
    So come with your debit cards, bring your friends, bake some goodies, and get ready to make an investment in the lives of people in South Sudan.
    Susan and I will be spending at least $750 to make a difference. I'll be baking my no frills, simply chocolate, kinda ugly, really tasty cake!
    And during our worship services on Sunday, each offering that isn't marked "pledge" will be given to our friends in South Sudan.  
    Please start baking, and email a title and brief description to Polly Tangora so she can streamline check-in by preparing your bid forms in advance. Then post your amazing goodies on Facebookor Instagram, tagging All Saints' and using the hashtag #AfricaBakeAuction. 
    All the best, 
    March For Our Lives - A Lenten Pilgrimage

    March For Our Lives - A Lenten Pilgrimage


    Dear Friends,

    I invite you to join me on a pilgrimage to Washington DC on March 24th to support the young people from Florida who are marching in memory of their slain friends, murdered in their high school.

    I believe this journey to DC or a shorter trip to Downtown Chicago needs to be an intrinsic part of our Lenten Discipline this year. This country can no longer sigh and wring our collective hands and be lulled into thinking that there is nothing else we can do. We can show up. We can show up by the thousands, by the hundreds. That showing up begins when each one of us changes a plan and alters a schedule to be there to show we care. Because we do. 

    For DC, we’ll leave Friday evening at 5:00, March 23rd. Click here for more information and to purchase bus tickets. We’ll March during the day on the 24th. And return Saturday night so that we all may be back in time for Palm Sunday Services, March 25th. Know that the procession we take part in on Saturday will be a Palm Sunday Procession for the world and not just our church.

    I hope you can be there, with your family and friends in either DC or Downtown.

    All my best,



    Lenten Evening Prayer

    Lenten Evening Prayer

    On Thursdays, February 15-March 22, brief services of Evening Prayer will be offered at 7:00pm, with scripture, poetry, and song. Come find rest for your souls.

    Inquirers’ Class

    Inquirers’ Class

    On Thursdays, February 15—March 22, the Inquirers’ Class will take place in the Reading Room next to the sanctuary. Designed especially but not exclusively for those new to All Saints’ and/or the Episcopal Church, this 6-week series is an exploration of adult spirituality through history, prayer, scriptures, theology, church polity, and more. If desired, it may also serve as preparation for the rite of confirmation or reception into the Episcopal Church in May or June.

    The book we’ll refer to occasionally in the class is called Jesus was an Episcopalian (and you can be one, too!): A Newcomer’s Guide to the Episcopal Church by Chris Yaw. If you’re interested in joining the class, consider getting a copy to look over.

    Contact Bonnie or Emily for more info.

    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!

    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.

    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 

    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.