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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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.