All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

How Does a Country Go Off the Rails?

Bake Auction Sunday

February 26, 2017
Bonnie A. Perry

Good Morning!

Welcome to what I consider one of our most sacred holy days of the year: Africa Bake Auction Sunday. About 16 years ago, one of our young people, Hilary Warldron, (Hilary is now in her 30s and running our youth group) came up with the idea of having an auction, not a bake sale, but an auction to raise money. Over the years the recipients of the auction’s proceeds have changed, but what has remained the same, is that the money goes to people in need in Africa and our young people, specifically the children ages 9 to 12 run the bake auction and decide where the money will be allocated. For the last ten years, the young people have donated the vast majority of our not insubstantial proceeds, (some $20,000 a year) to our sisters and brothers in South Sudan.

We have a long relationship with Joseph Garang Atem, who is now the Bishop of the Diocese of Renk. Bishop Joseph has visited our congregation regularly for over a decade. On two different occasions we have sent parishioners to visit with him and his people. We know him. He knows us. When parishioner Connie Wilson was having surgery for breast cancer, I was there when he called her from South Sudan to pray with her right before she left for the operating room. He prays for us. We pray for him.

Life in South Sudan is dire. It’s been dire as long as we have been in relationship with them. I was thinking about it as I was preparing to write this sermon. When we started giving money to Renk, they were in the midst of a Civil war with the Government in Khartouem. Since then the people of South Sudan, won their independence and set up one of the world’s newest countries. I remember the year that bishop joseph travelled here on his brand new passport in October 2013 he was so happy.

Then just a few months later a disagreement between the President and the Vice President, led to the factions, who supported each man, to take up arms. It has continued, morphing into a full-scale conflict with devastating consequence, 3 million people are displaced, 5 million people are food insecure, thousands and thousands of people killed. South Sudan has replaced Afghanistan as the most dangerous place for aid workers. Violence against women and gang rape is now common place.

All of these developments make me wonder, make me mad, really you all had a civil war against the government in the North and now you are doing the exact same thing to the people with whom you fought Khartoem. How does that happen? What must that be like?

How does a government go off the rails? How does ill-conceived rhetoric suddenly lead to violence? Lately, I’ve gotten a better sense of how things can spiral. I have a better understanding of what it must be like to be an average citizen and watch people with governmental authority say and do things that are simply reprehensible. Let’s just say, I find myself understanding a tiny bit more what it must be like to be one of our sisters and brothers living in Renk, aghast at the violence taking place.

Interestingly enough, one of the things that all of the AID organizations say is that the Church in South Sudan is one of the few institutions still respected in all quarters, that and places of education are seen as centers in society where negotiations and peace deals and change and transformation can still be brokered.

I was texting with Bishop Joseph as I was writing this sermon and I asked him, for what, right now, for what do you most need money?

He said, “Our biggest priority is supporting education and women’s projects, which in turn support the care and education of their children.”

When I asked specifically, for what women’s projects he would like funding, he said, “Our women have set up a tea shop and cafeteria.” They sell food, and tea, hand made clothing and fresh vegetables.”

So. In addition to paying for the midwives, and Dr. Paul and more money for seeds and teachers, our friends need money to support the economic independence of the women in their community.

Susan and I were going to be in for our usual gift of $500. But after speaking with Joseph and thinking about just how much they need us. Just how horrible it can be to feel as if your government is off the rails, well she and I are now in for $1000. We can skip some dinners out. There is stuff I want, but its just stuff. I can certainly do without. Our friends in South Sudan need us, they need me, they need you.

All of the money from our bake sale, and every bit of cash or checks put into our collection today, (that do not say annual pledge) will go to our sisters and brothers in need in Africa. In South Sudan the church is transformational because it is a place that supports women, children and education. Let us use our gifts of this church, to help that church, to help a country whose government has gone off the rails.

Joseph’s final words to me were, “You may please ask your children to please pray for us.” And—“God bless you and thank you and keep going.”

So we shall.

The bake auction that followed raised more than $26,000 in an hour. It’s simple, 150 people write a check for $100 and suddenly you have $15,000 to change people’s lives and so we will keep going as Bishop Joseph asked. 

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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.