All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

The Rev. Fran Holliday
All Saints’ Episcopal Church
Sunday November 17, 2013

“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; For I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.”

These are the words spoken by the Prophet Isaiah, Words that proclaim hope and hold up a vision of restoration and new life for Jerusalem. In order to truly grasp the radical nature of Isaiah’s vision here I believe it is helpful to take at least a cursory look at at the context in which these verses were written and where they fall in the scheme of things.

The Book of the Prophet Isaiah is a collection of Hebrew writings which scholars often divide into three different books. The first book of Isaiah is believed to have been written by Isaiah of Jerusalem in the second half of the eight century B.C. E. This book contains the Prophets call story and is punctuated by the “Judgment oracles” against Judah and Jerusalem for their unfaithfulness to God.

Second Isaiah, is written by a an anonymous poet in the 6th century and it captures the period when the Israelites were in exile in Babylon. Babylon is about to fall and the author writes with great anticipation and hope that exiled Judah can return to Palestine.

The final book” Isaiah Three” also written in the sixth century by an anonymous author contains the verses we just heard. This book concerns itself with the return of the exiles and the restoration of Jerusalem. Babylon has fallen, Persia is now in power and they are allowing those in exile to return home. However home is not the same. Those who return find it fraught with challenges. Foreigners have moved in and now occupy their land. Life is hard The land is desolate, food and resources are scarce. The temple is destroyed. Everything lay in ruins.

It is here in the midst of this despair and desolation as they stand in the smoldering rubble, that the word of the prophet breaks in and calls forth a new reality. Remember the Prophets don’t predict the future rather they speak on God’s behalf about what God is doing now. “For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth.”

This is not a promise about what is to come but a declaration by God that God is rebuilding Jerusalem into something new and the foundation for this new creation is the broken shattered remnants of their former city and their upended devastated lives. The radical vision of restoration that lies in this final book of Isaiah is not just that God will restore the Israelites but that God will do it with the very stuff of their current reality. God will gather up the shattered rubble, the parched land and their broken dreams to form and to create new life. It is here amongst the desolation and wreckage that God can and will create something new.

It is not a restoration of their former life- It is an entirely new creation. The creation of something new out of rubble is more familiar and tangible to us when we are talking about physical structures. We can visibly see what has been rebuilt in New Orleans, and what physically needs to be recreated in the Philippines. But how do you rebuild and recreate new life in the midst of personal loss, and emotional devastation? How do you rise up from the rubble of personal tragedy?

It does not seem logical that one would or could create something new on the bedrock of total devastation and yet there are people who miraculously accomplish this and when they do it reminds us That with God All things are possible. One stunning example of this is a woman named Jeanne Bishop. Some of you may know her story as it has been in the news over the years.

Bishop is a Cook County public defender. She fought against the death penalty here in Illinois for many years. Her commitment to transforming the justice system has always been fueled by her deep seated Christian faith. Her commitment to the cause became deeply personal in 1990 when her sister Nancy, brother law Richard and their unborn child were senselessly murdered in their Winnetka home.

An intruder entered their home and waited for them. He then took them to the basement and shot them both. Bishop’s sister Nancy scrawled a heart and a U in her Own blood as she lay dying on that basement floor. Bishop said in a 2011 Chicago Tribune article, That, “This was a sign that her sister was thinking about love, in her dying moments and not about revenge.” It was one of the things that helped her to transform her anger into forgiveness.

This tragic turn of events not only strengthened her opposition to the death penalty it also plunged her into a personal faith journey where she began to live out in a very real way what she calls “radical forgiveness.” She had always felt that the killer David Biro should live because He was after all another human being, He was “somebody’s son,” and he was only 16 at the time of the crimes.

However for 21 years she did not speak his name until she visited her sisters grave on Easter Sunday in 2011. As she prayed for her sister she also prayed for Biro who had just turned 37 and is serving a three life term sentences. Bishop explained that “She felt a stone had been Rolled away from her heart.” “Easter “she says, “Is always such a reminder that violence and death do not have the last word.”

This 23 year journey of transformation that Bishop has experienced did not end with praying for Biro. Last month Bishop did another interview for the Chicago Tribune where she continued to describe her Journey now toward strengthening her belief in reconciliation and redemption. It started when she read a passage in a meditation book Which read, “All Christians have the responsibility to Forgive those who have wronged them.”

She began to realize that although she had forgiven Biro and has flown all of the world to talk about forgiveness she never told Biro herself that he was forgiven. She did this recently in the form of a letter, which led Biro to write her back ,and for the first time confess to the crimes. Following this Bishop felt that maybe just maybe he could possibly redeem himself. She is not certain that he should ever be let out of jail. Following her meetings with him she said It is unclear to her if he is ready.

But bishop has in recent years found herself working on cases to overturn mandatory life sentences for Juveniles offenders. A supreme court ruling in 2012 has opened the door for the possibility of Biro having a chance at resentencing. Bishop said she still uncertain about how she would feel about Biro having his sentence changed. She wants to continue to try to understand, She is still putting all the pieces together on this journey.

Bishop continues to grapple with her faith as she works to see Biro as redeemable. She ends her Tribune interview saying, “If I really believe that nothing is impossible for God, then I cannot give up on him.” She has with God’s help used the tragic death of her family members as a means for taking a life long faith journey that few of us would dare embark upon. Out of this devastating event and in the midst of overwhelming anger, despair and grief Bishop has found new life. She herself has been transformed. “For I am creating new heavens and a new earth.”

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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.