All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Act and Then Believe

Mark 1:16-20

I don't know about you, but I'm trying to wrap my brain around this: Jesus comes into Galilee saying, "Now is the time! Here come's God's Kingdom. Change your hearts and lives...then he wanders past two brothers who are fishing, Andrew and Simon, and he says to them, "Come follow me and soon I'll have you fishing for people" they leave their nets and follow him...[then] while the brothers James and John are in their boat, repairing nets with their father. Jesus passes by calls out to them, invites them along, and BOOM they drop their nets, get up and go, and leave their dad with the hired hands.

Does this make any sense at all to you? Were all of these guys just looking for a career change?

He calls. They go. How did they come to believe so very fast?

I've been trying to figure this stuff out for years. I still don't have the faith in me to act, not like that.

The German theologian, who resisted the Nazis and was later executed by them, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, reflects on how Jesus calls his apostles in his book Cost of Discipleship. He says, "How could the call immediately evoke obedience?" (p 62) It seems that in this instance faith does not precede obedience.

Many of us long for a sure and certain faith that will enable us to do good and great things; If we had a deep abiding faith, freed from doubt, we'd happily risk much and take great steps to embody God's hope for our world.

Bonhoeffer questions if we should try to grow our faith so that one day we might be able to act, rather he believes that answering God's call, just acting before we believe, that will be how our faith grows.

One of our Tuesday night chefs, John Leonard, often says that love is a verb, it is not so much something we feel, rather it is something we do. I believe faith is the same. We've got it wrong, thinking that faith is a thing that is dropped upon us, rather it too is a verb, a muscle that comes into being when we act, when we do.

Could it be, when we answer the call, that is how faith begins?

This reminds me a bit of the Alcoholics Anonymous slogan, "Fake it, til you make it." That is, I will today, at this moment, act like a person who does not need to drink. For this moment, and then for the next, patching together one moment after another of sobriety.

Or as Harvard Business Review author, Herminia Ibarra says in her book, Act like a Leader, Think like a Leader (2015) "We only increase our self-knowledge in the process of making changes. We try something new and then observe the results – how it feels to us, how others around us react – and only later reflect on and perhaps internalize what our experience taught us. In other words, we act like a leader and then think like a leader."

To put a less heady, more embodied perspective on acting then believing, listen to some excerpts from a StoryCorps interview that I heard on NPR Friday morning.

A favorite pastime for April Gibson and her teenage son, Gregory Bess, is simply talking to one another.

"I think I learn more from those conversations than school," says Gregory, who turned 17 on Thursday.

But during a recent StoryCorps conversation in St. Paul, Minn., April,[who is] 33, knew he wanted to talk about a subject the two hadn't really explored.
April invited her son to ask about what that time was like for her, as a young black mother. "Now you can ask me the hard question," April says.

"What did you feel like when I was born?" Gregory asks.

"I actually didn't feel anything," April says. "I was 16, and I was a kid. I didn't know what I was doing. So when I took you home, I didn't know how to feel. I made a bad choice according to everybody. 'You're just like all the rest of them.'"

April Gibson gave birth to Gregory Bess in 2001.
Courtesy of April Gibson

In the beginning, those judgments masked her own feelings. "I don't know what 'the rest of them' means," she says, "but I know what it felt like. Like I didn't deserve to feel the way women who do the right things do — because why would you celebrate someone making such a poor choice?"

Because April didn't know what to feel, she says she felt nothing. "And I just took care of you," she tells Gregory. "I did what I was supposed to do."

Then one day, she had a realization. "I couldn't believe what people told me about myself or about 'those people' like me," she says. "This is my baby, and I love him, and I can feel something. It's not a fairy tale, it's not a failure. It's just a process, and now we're here, 16 years later."

When he was younger, Gregory says, he wanted to find someone to look up to. "But it's always been right in front of me," he says. "You're just the greatest person that I[have] ever known. And I just want to be like you."

It is in the doing that we believe, it is in the acting that we begin to know.

Many of us were out marching yesterday. Do we know where those marches will lead us? Do we have set before us a roadmap of change? We do not, yet we needed to show up. To act. To take a step. One after the other. Faith is a verb, that grows as we act.

Jesus said, "Come follow me." And they got up and went.


Copyright Bonnie A. Perry 2018


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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.