All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Progressive Christians in the Trump World

Matthew 5:38-48
February 19, 2017
Bonnie A. Perry

The Pew Research Center put out the results a couple of days ago of their poll on President Trump’s Executive Order on Travel Restrictions. Apparently 95% of the people interviewed had heard about it. 78% said they had heard a lot about it… Here’s the good news, 59% of Americans disapprove of it. A majority of the Americans interviewed disapprove of the Travel restrictions.

Now here’s some interesting and not necessarily heartening data: 49% of the white people interviewed approve of the travel restrictions. 50% of white people disapprove of it. While 84% of African Americans disapprove as do 74% of Hispanics. (An Asian cohort was not mentioned.)

Here are the numbers that really caught my attention. 76% of the White evangelicals interviewed approve of the travel restrictions. With 50% of the white mainline protestants also approving, while most Catholics 62% disapprove and 74% of those unaffiliated with a religion disapprove of the policy. Hmmph.

What the heck is Jesus saying to that? Or for that matter, the prophets, the saints, the sinners?

Seems to me, in our tradition, we have a fair amount written about welcoming the sojourner and alien, caring for the outcast, loving our neighbor as ourselves and even a very clear admonishment, to love our enemies.

* * *

I’ve just returned from an extremely beautiful place, filled with lovely people, that describes itself anecdotally and statistically as a non-Religious country. Despite the devotion that many in this country have to the Anglican Prayer book of New Zealand, from what I saw and what I’ve read, its quite possible that we are more familiar with it than most of the people who live in that island country.

I asked my New Zealand host, if she knew where the nearest Anglican church was. “No,” she said, “I’ve no idea.” Just then, sitting in the back of the car I looked to my left and saw St Martin’s [at St. Chad’s]. She passed by and had for the last 8 years, the local Anglican church twice a day in the mile and half she drove to and from work.

A day or so later, while teaching a sea kayak class in the Hauraki Gulf just off Auckland, I watched a group of people gathering for a full immersion baptism of one of their friends. I recognized what was happening long before one of my Kiwi students figured it out. When I suggested it was a baptism, he said to clear my possible mistaken impressions of his country, “That’s very unusual. We don’t do that sort of thing here in New Zealand.” He, had at that point, absolutely no idea of my day job.

Later on I told him that I rather enjoyed a good baptism…

Why be Christian? Having just returned from a country that is becoming more and more non-religious I find myself asking the question—why am I a Christian?

Because of my Christian beliefs do I live my life any differently from non-religious or areligious people?

Why are you Christian? More to the point—how are you a Christian?

This morning’s Gospel, is a significant section of the Sermon on the Mount. The chapters in Matthew’s Gospel where one could make the case, that Jesus boils down what we need to know, and how we need to act, to the very potent, concentrated essence of Christian actions and behavior:

Turn the other cheek
Go the extra mile
Offer your coat
Give to all who ask
Love your enemies not just our friends, not just our neighbors but love our enemies (think for a moment who that might be…)
Pray for those who persecute you,
Be perfect, as our Lord in Heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:38-48).

This then is what Matthew records Jesus saying as what he requires of his followers.

How’s that going for you so far?

Given this description, are you making it as a Christian?

Given the data revealed by the Pew Research Center, I’m pretty clear that there are a bunch of white evangelicals who are falling grievously short of Christ’s mark. But casting those stones are way too easy. The question here to be answered, for me is how far below the Christian line am I?

Where are you?

* * *

I spent a fair amount of time, reflecting on this passage: reading, researching…Lots of time. As soon as my spouse Susan warned me, “Have you seen the Gospel for this Sunday? It’s terrible, it’s the “Turn the other cheek one…”

In my study, on this terrible passage, what became quite clear is that many have tried to come up with alternate interpretations that would make this section more palatable, livable, do-able.

What the scholars of any repute have concluded is that Jesus meant every word he said, literally. That turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, is not “a passive acquiescence in the face of violence and harm.” But rather as theologian Matthew Myer Boulton says, “the centerpiece of this teaching is noncooperation with harm in all its forms.”

That is, you strike me, I will not strike you back, nor will I crumble and fall, instead I will offer you my other cheek so that you may reconsider your previous action. You ask me to carry your goods, as a Roman soldier was permitted to conscript anyone to carry his gear for a mile, then once asked I will offer to you twice what you require. I will do so in such a way that you may see yourself as an honored child of God. And hopefully in those two miles, I too may see past your oppression to your goodness.

Is this a rationale for bowing to abuse, staying silent in the face of oppressive destructive relationships? No. Never. Absolutely not. Nor can anyone of us, ask another to take on any of these activities. None of these actions can faithfully be executed if we lack freedom of choice or will.

But in those times and in those places when we have choice and free will, loving our enemies, turning our cheek, walking the extra mile offers us the possibility of creating a different world, a different place, one where executive orders and travel bans are repudiated by all, and the people who write them are loved into a different way of being. Imagine that one if you will. Love of that sort and that kind for all.

On most days, I call myself a Christian. And on most days I do want to be the person that embodies these beliefs. I want to say, “Hell yeah—with God and God’s help—I will do this.” Each day, I will try to do it again. I claim the gift of Christianity as the fuel that enables me to try, not alone, but with other equally fragile believers, one more time, one more day. Hell yeah. I will with God’s help.


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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.