All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

The Sacrament of Relationship

The Rev. Fran Holliday
All Saints’ Episcopal Church
Sunday February 16, 2014

If there is one thing that I have learned in my 10 years of being ordained it’s “never go to the grocery store wearing my collar.” Yes I have made that mistake on a few occasions, and it always makes for an interesting shopping excursion. The last time I did it I was in a long line at the Jewel and the woman in front of me turned around, looked at me and then asked me if I was a nun. When I told her I was an Episcopal Priest she proceeded to ask me “What made you decide to become a priest?” I really just wanted the cream and sugar for my coffee and I wanted to get home.

As we stood in the line she looked at me waiting for an answer so I blurted out, “Relationships, Christian community, That is what really matters in life and that is what I think most matters to God.” I am not sure if that was a sufficient answer for her because she was by then checking out and went on her way. But as I pondered this conversation and my response I know that I answered her truthfully.

For me, what I call the sacrament of relationship is by far the most important sacrament. Everything else follows from this. We do not consecrate bread and wine privately it is done in the midst of community and by the community. Likewise baptism is done in the midst of community. We say our baptismal vows in the presence of one another not just to ourselves. We publically pledge as a community of faith to support the newly baptized.

Everything we do flows out of our relationships. The sacrament of relationship is the primary thing that defines and shapes us. It is the most crucial element for our existence and growth and it is here in the midst of our relationships messy though they can be at times- it is here -where we find hope and new life.

A quote I once read comes to mind, “Did you know that a person can live weeks without food, days without water, minutes without oxygen. But not one moment without hope?” Relationships are the key ingredient that we need, to create, foster and sustain hope within us. And we all need hope not just to survive but live abundantly.

We need connections and relationships with others to sustain us, to feed us and to move us beyond ourselves especially during times of difficulty and despair. I don’t know about you but I often cannot muster up a sense of hope all on my own—especially when life gets hard and disappointments come. On my own I am stuck in my own head replaying my own negative tapes, thinking my own thoughts and caught up in a reality of my own making.

In community I have reminders that my failings do not define me—and the support to see that life will go on—no matter the situation. Relationships provide the door to new life and new possibilities if we dare to engage in them. I am reminded of a young man named Michael who I met many years ago while I was in high school. Michael had lost his place on the high school football team, he had lost his closest friends following his family’s move to a new suburb.

In general he suffered from depression but never spoke of it to anyone. He kept all of this pain and sense of loss to himself. Over time he became more and more isolated until one day he attempted suicide. He lay on the floor in his room and cut his writs. He became weaker as he lost blood which, he was doing quickly. Then something inside him made him call out to his family who was two floors up having dinner. A relative heard his faint cry and rushed to the lower level. He was quickly taken to the hospital and saved.

Michael was the brother of my high school psychology professor and every quarter he came to her class to tell his story. He came to talk about his battle with depression. But most of all he came to the high school to implore us not to isolate with our problems. He reminded us that isolation is often the road to deeper despair. He came to tell us that once he began to share what was going on with himself with others he began to gain back a sense of hope—this was a turning point.

Choosing to be in relationships with others and deciding to be honest with someone about what is going on in our life can open the door to hope and new life. We may not find ourselves in an extreme situation like Michael, but we often are faced with choosing between hope sustaining relationships with others, or the despair of isolation.

Throughout our lives and most especially during times of stress, disappointment and crisis, we stand at a crossroad and we must choose: What will we do? We are reminded in this mornings reading from Deuteronomy that often the choice between doing that which brings death and that which brings new life and hope is ours to make. The Israelites are crossing over into the promised land and Moses cannot go with them. At that moment he reminds them that they are at the crossroad and they must make a choice. “I have set before you today death and life.” Which will you choose?”

As a community of faith we are called to make the choice of being in relationships with one another. To create, foster and sustain hope. There are many ways we can and already do provide support for each other in this place. Most of you know that Bonnie and I are available for hospital visits and to be with you during medical emergencies. We are also available for pastoral conversations especially during times of crisis. Additionally this community has the Care Ministry which is a group of volunteers providing visits, rides and meals on a short term basis during times of life transitions, such as the death of a family member the birth of a baby, a new job or a move.

We also have lay chaplain, John Sattelmaier, who brings communion to homebound and hospital bound people and we have more Lay Chaplains being trained as we speak to provide these supportive visits. It is our hope to have our “listening circle” up and running in a couple of months. This is a peer facilitated support group that will meet once or twice a month. If you need this type of support or if you would like to volunteer to be part of the care ministry team please contact me. We always need new volunteers to sustain these supportive ministries.

But in addition to all of this I invite you to connect with new people, and with each other. Right now you can sign up to be part of a Lenten supper group, the Monday night Lenten bible study or the newcomers inquirer’s class also meeting in Lent. These are great opportunities to connect with others. Reach out to someone you don’t know and meet them. Have coffee with one person you have not spoken to before. If you are a newcomer or even if you have been here awhile but are not very connected I invite you to reach out—let one person get to know you better.

We need each other—we are called to care for one another to engage in each others lives and provide each other with hope, support and new life. Today and every day we are each standing at a crossroad and we must decide Will we open ourselves to each other, and to this new life? Today God has put before us death and life.

Which will you choose?


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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.