All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

masadawallsThe Hope of the Word

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
January 24, 2016

They have forgotten.
It happens you know.
It happens all the time.
It happens to us and it happened to them. More than a century has gone by; more than three generations have gone to their graves singing foreign songs in a foreign land.

But now they are returning from Babylon back from exile. They are returning to their beloved city on a hill to rebuild and renew. Yet that shining place is razed and ruined. Charred beams and weeds fill the temple courtyard and scavenging packs of animals walk freely through the holes in the city's walls.

Word comes to Nehemiah, a faithful Jew serving the Persian King, word comes
from his brother in Jerusalem that they need help: they are threatened by their enemies all around. The city walls need to be rebuilt if Jerusalem is ever again going to be a Holy City on a hill.

The Persian King, grants his eunuch advisor, Nehemiah, permission to leave and bestows upon him, his eunuch advisor the title of governor of the province of Judah.

Nehemiah arrives with supplies, plans and a vision. The wall is rebuilt we are told in 52 days. But here's the thing. Though the external restorations have been accomplished. Though but a shadow of itself the temple is reconstructed, the breach in the walls repaired.

But the people have forgotten what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God. The people have forgotten who they are and whose they are.

They have a temple, they have a wall, but their souls are stone, broken and shorn.

So Nehemiah—does what he can. Uses the gifts he has and calls for the King of Persia to send back Ezra the priest. For their local priests in Jerusalem are dispirited, dismayed and beat down by daily life. It happens to us all. They are a people without a faith.

Nehemiah realizes that they need a priest who believes. And more than that they need the word of God. As it was then so it is now.

Scripture. Torah. The Law.
God's holy wisdom in words is if we read it—if we soak in it—it will be our on-ramp to faith; our entrance to God's ways and God's love. But we have to read it,
hear it, feel it—before we can embody it.

While they await Ezra's arrival Nehemiah commands that a giant scaffolding be erected by the Water gate. A giant scaffolding so all can see and hear. Then when Ezra arrives Nehemiah commands all the people to be at the Water gate at dawn. Men and women, all, all, all.

Nehemiah instructs Ezra—to read the Law—to read God's word to the people
from dawn to dusk all day long, read it and explain it in such a way that the people will understand.

Ezra—by all accounts is not a particularly compelling man or charismatic preacher. He isn't amazing, or inspiring—instead he is faithful—nothing more, nothing less
for the word of the Lord, God's covenant is written upon Ezra's heart, his soul is not stone.

As Ezra mounts the platform and unrolls the scroll, the people stand with him, it is probably not unlike, not all that dissimilar from when Jesus enters his hometown synagogue in Nazareth, 500 years later and unrolls the scroll and proclaims the words of the prophet Isaiah

"The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, liberty to the oppressed and sight to the blind, to declare the year of God's favor."

It was probably vastly similar for it was on that day at the Watergate that the people began to hear the word of God again—for the very first time.

What would that be like for us?

What would it be like to hear and to know, to read and to mark, to learn and inwardly digest, what would it be like for us to hear the word of God and then for our souls to fill and our lives to change? What would it be like to know who we are
and to know whose we are.

I think we know.

But then I think we forget. I know I do. But listen with me for a moment and see where your soul goes.


In those days, a decree went out from Cesar Augustus, that all the world should be registered...

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene, came to the tomb, and saw that the stone had been removed...

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth...

He saw the crowds, he sat down and he began to speak...Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted...

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude...

On the night before he died, he took the bread


So it is my friends. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God. The words became sentences, the sentences became paragraphs, and the paragraphs became the stories of the people of God.

It was on that day, in the rubble strewn streets of Jerusalem standing at the foot of that ramshackle wall, that the people once again began to hear and to believe. It was on that day the people began to remember. May we too do the same.

May it be for us as it was for them. As It was on that day that the people stood and heard the word. And the people said, "Amen."

Copyright Bonnie A. Perry January 2016


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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.