All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Orlando:  It's About the Questions We Ask


June 19, 2016
By Rev. Bonnie A. Perry

As the Psalmist writes,
“I am like one whose bones are broken to pieces…
While they say to me all day long:
Tell us Now Where is Your God?” Psalm 42

Anger and sadness vie for the custody of my soul. In this I expect I am not alone. The people shot at the Pulse night club were between ages 18 and 50. The average age was 29. Most were of color, most were Hispanic, most were LGBTQ; some were not. Pulse was a place where people went to be themselves and to have fun. Although lots of different types of people frequent Pulse, it is by its own description on Twitter, “Orlando’s premier gay ultra lounge, nightclub and bar.”

Texas Representative Pete Sessions can say its not a gay club and Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell can continue to omit mentioning gay people every time he speaks of the massacre, but their omissions do not change the facts, they merely prove the FBI’s data that LGBT people are more likely to be targeted in hate crimes then any other group in this country. If you are of color and happen to also be transgender then the statistics just get worse (New York Times, Saturday June 18, 2016).

In the tornado of hate that landed in Orlando maiming and killing so many children of God, so many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender children of God, I have found myself sheltering in a cellar, sheltering in a storm cellar of denial. Each time I have attempted to venture out to view the swath of destruction my words vanish and my feelings are swept away.

All I can find myself asking is, “ Where the hell is God?”

Tornadoes are classified, by the Fujita scale from 1 to 5 and some of the most destructive tornadoes in the world are the ones that form with multiple vortices within the larger tornado. The mere presence of the extra vortices can increase the speed of the tornado relative to the ground by more than 100 mph. So these tornadoes are frequently responsible for extreme swaths of destruction. This then is what I see in Orlando, a tornado with multiple vortices.

Not just hate, not just terror, not just untreated mental illness, not just xenophobia, religious superiority, not just unchecked slaughter by legally purchased firearms, but a swirling vortex of all these things, joined with paralyzed government and a societal acceptance of hatred: hatred of Queer people, hatred of Muslims, Hatred of and for people of color. All this, coupled with the American public’s passive acceptance of terror and hate foisted on us by the National Rifle Association’s belief that the second amendment can slaughter the first.

Susan Alborell, a former parishioner wrote to me the night of the massacre. She said, after hearing the news of Orlando, that morning, she went to the beach to clear her head, to pray, and to try to make some sense of the destructive horror. She said, she heard in her mind, the question that I have said to her in the past, “Where is God in all of this?” That she said was the question she took with her to the beach.

While there a large group assembled near by. Soon it became clear that it was a church group, an African American Church group gathered for a full immersion baptism. Then she heard another question, “Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil?” That was when she cried. She said, it became clear to her that it is always about the questions we ask.

It’s always about the questions we seek to answer.

It’s a year and two days since 9 African American people were gunned down during a bible study in Charleston, by a white supremacist, hoping to incite a race war.

Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

I renounce them.

The cries continue. The lament lingers. What my friends shall we do?

16 people have been shot and killed in Chicago in June so far.

Interestingly, scientists have pointed out that some tornadoes can be shut down by the backdrafts of the very storms that started them.

What are we going to do?

How can we metaphorically and literally anti-cyclones, massive high pressure systems to our world’s lows? How can we be a force equal and opposite in intensity that stops the uncontrolled spiraling violence of our world?

I do not have the answer. If it were easy we would have figured it out awhile ago because we are smart. So the answer is neither simple, quick or easy. So this then is the question I am asking all of us

Do you respect the dignity of every human being?

—because it is the questions that we ask that matter.

Are you willing to work on this, this cancer of hatred and violence, racism and homophobia prayerfully, tenaciously, steadfastly, relentlessly using all we have as individuals and a community for the foreseeable future? This violence in our country right now is at the intersection of all we fear, and all we believe. Will you bring your life, your worth, your gifts to this fight?

Now? Now. Now!

Gracious God give us strength to move beyond our fears that nothing can be done.

In your holy name we pray.



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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.