All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

The Way to Our Salvation

We are living in a time when a number of us are feeling some fear and suspicion. I know I am. The other day I was in a crowded public place, and I found myself looking around, being wary of who might be in my midst. It was a new feeling for me. I suspect I am not the only one suddenly seeing the world with somewhat more appraising eyes.

uematsu japanThis fear, this guardedness, is now being exploited in what some would call political discourse and what others would call ignorance writ large. Politicians, pundits and putzs aside, I wonder how it is that people of faith, people like you and I should conduct our lives in the midst of some of this fear?

The prophet Isaiah, said O so many years ago, "Surely God is my salvation: I will trust and not be afraid...(Isaiah 12:2)
And biblical scholar, Mariam Kamell says, "God expects his people to behave, [and] not merely believe. (p 69 Feasting on the Word).

In the midst of fear, preconceptions, and even outright prejudice, how are we, people of faith, how are we to behave?

When Beth Taylor, our former seminarian was staying over at my house, Friday night before preaching at Emily's ordination yesterday she and I were chatting about our upcoming sermons and Beth reminded me of the story of Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu, the Anglican Primate of Japan.

She said, remember Bonnie in 2009, when the Chicago Consultation was hosting four different Archbishops at the Episcopal General Convention a couple of nights before the archbishops were scheduled to leave, you sent me down to the end of the dinner table to sit with the Archbishop of Japan and figure out where he was on LGBT rights.
You said, "Go talk to him find out if we have lost him."
To which she said, "But Bonnie I'm only a seminarian."
To which I said, "Doesn't matter he likes you. Go"

So Beth and Bishop Nathaniel started talking.
As they talked, he said to Beth, "You have a southern accent?"
To which she replied, "Why yes." How do you know Southern accents?
He said, "I went to school in Enid Oklahoma."
Then he began to tell her this story.

At one point in his life Nathaniel wanted to be an Opthamologist. It turns out one of the premier programs in the world is located in Enid, Oklahoma. So Nathaniel, a young man, from Japan moves to Enid Oklahoma to pursue his studies.

As the case with most Japanese people, he was not a Christian, but rather practiced Shinto.

One Sunday morning, Nathaniel found himself passing by an Episcopal church. On a whim he decided to go inside. To see.

He sat through the worship service, in the back of the church. At the offertory the priest invited all who wished to come and receive communion. So when it came time for communion, watching the other people in attendance, so he would know what to do Nathaniel went up and received communion. And then and there he had a full-blown conversion experience. Boom. Just like that. Just like in the bible.

Following the service he went up to the priest and he asked if he could be baptized.
The priest said yes, "Of course."

Some weeks later after conversation and preparation, Nathaniel was baptized.

The thing was, although he was at that church for four years throughout the course of his studies, the people never seemed to warm up to him. He said to Beth, "they were cold."

"I was baptized into that community, but never really welcomed by the people."

Eventually he realized that the patriarch of the congregation, an older man named Bob in particular didn't like him. That patriarch's dislike just seemed to infect and affect all the other parishioners. It turns out that Bob, during WWII had been in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

The war had ended some 35 years before so it hadn't occurred to Nathaniel that it might be an issue. But it was for Bob. And Bob's feelings toward Nathaniel seemed to just ooze throughout the congregation. Nevertheless, Nathaniel continued to attend the Church.

As Nathaniel continued his studies he would return to Japan for summers and holidays and on one of his trips back to his homeland, he met and fell in love with a woman.

When he returned to school he asked the priest if he and his fiancé could be married at the church. The priest said yes.

But still the congregation was cold.

Well it came time for the wedding and Nathaniel's fiancé was flying in the next day, when he got a call from Bob. He was surprised, taken aback. But Bob asked him if he might go and pick up Nathaniel's fiancé at the airport.

Nathaniel was very very unsure of this. Said he needed to think about it. He said, to Bob, "Give me some time to think about this." So Nathaniel called the priest and told him what Bob wanted to do: That Bob was offering to pick up his wife-to-be and that Nathaniel was worried. The priest shared his concern. But the priest said to Nathaniel, "Let me make some phone calls and I'll get back to you."

So half hour later, the priest calls Nathaniel back and says, "It's ok. Let Bob pick her up." So Bob did and he brought her to the priest's house where she was spending the night, because Nathaniel and she didn't want to see each other before the wedding.

Since the congregation had been so very cold to him Nathaniel wasn't expecting anyone except the priest and his wife to be at the ceremony. Like he said, "They baptized me but they never welcomed me."

But when he got to the church and went into the sanctuary it was filled.

Bob had asked if he could please escort Nathaniel's fiancé down the aisle.

As Bob and she processed down the aisle the entire congregation stood and began to sing Amazing Grace in Japanese.

Then when Bob reached the altar, before Nathaniel and his fiancé took hands, Bob hugged Nathaniel and said, "The war is over."

"The War is over."

Bob— had decided he had been in prison long enough.

When he heard that Nathaniel was to be married, he went every member of the congregation and said, "You know how I have felt about Nathaniel, when I see him all I see are the Japanese of my past." I don't know how to forgive, but this has to change.

Will you please come to the wedding? The only thing Bob could think of to show his changing heart, his repentance was to sing Amazing Grace. Bob said, "We need to sing it in the language of their hearts so that they know we mean it."

So the entire congregation met for weeks, learning how to sing Amazing Grace in Japanese.

Later Bob flew to Japan for all of Nathaniel's ordinations. Bob eventually became the godfather of Nathaniel's children.

As long as Bob was alive, anytime Nathaniel came to the US, he always came via Enid, Oklahoma to see Bob and his family.

Bob was set free.

My friends, we live in troubled times. I do not know what is to come. But I do know, that building walls, be they made of emotions or barbed wire; walls, fear and hate will never be the way to our salvation.

In Christ's Name.


Copyright Bonnie A. Perry December 13, 2015


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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.