All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

The History of All Saints Episcopal Church

Built Outside Chicago

All Saints' congregation was founded in 1882 and gathered initially in a borrowed Methodist church. Construction of the existing church was completed in 1884 in the then-rural, wooded village of Ravenswood (it was annexed by the city in 1889), where truck farms thrived and Swedish, German and Irish immigrants ascending to the middle class eventually settled.

A Reference Point

The building served as a reference point for the village, and its steeple bell rang out to summon volunteer firefighters. The church was a spiritual home to thousands of Ravenswood residents, who worshipped, baptized their babies, celebrated weddings and mourned their dead from the wooden pews that are still in use today. Earlier congregations included descendants of Conrad and Christine Sulzer, Ravenswood's first settlers, and Carl Sandburg, when he lived for a short time a block away on Hermitage Avenue.

A Unique and Historic Building

All Saints' is considered the oldest wood-frame church building in the city (erecting wooden buildings was prohibited within the city limits after the Great Fire of 1871, but All Saints' was built before the 1889 annexation of Ravenswood to the City of Chicago). Architect John Cochrane, whose best known existing work is the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, designed All Saints' in the so-called Stick Style, so named by architectural historian Vincent Scully and counted (with the Shingle Style) as one of the two most purely American styles of the nineteenth century. A reaction to the chaste formalism of the Greek Revivalism that dominated in the first half of that century, Stick Style flourished from 1850 to 1875. All Saints' is one of the finest examples in Chicago.

Close to Closing

The building itself remains largely intact, having survived two devastating fires and plans for demolition that were aborted by the Great Depression (it was to have been replaced by a stone edifice to match the Gothic-style Parish Hall that lies to the west on Wilson Avenue). In the early 1950's, this thriving parish responded to its own baby boom by building a Sunday school wing to accommodate the burgeoning number of children in the congregation. By the end of the 1960's, however, that wing was no longer needed. Many parishioners had responded to the call of the suburbs. Church attendance and revenues plummeted.


By 1992, the Episcopal Diocese was on the verge of closing the church, which had been designated a Chicago Historical Landmark only two years earlier. We had been relegated to mission status, as we were no longer financially solvent. At this time 35 people attended services on a typical Sunday. The tiny congregation had pledged $23,000; at year-end, we had debts that exceeded $25,000 in payables and $50,000 in loans. The physical building was in an advanced state of decay: roofs leaked, the furnace constantly broke down, the paint was peeling inside and out and even the bell in our steeple no longer rang. We struggled to keep the doors

open each Sunday for a few dozen faithful parishioners. Our sense of community was strong, but faltering. Crisis and need increasingly depleted the remaining congregation. 

Stepping Out in Faith

The determination and commitment of a handful of dedicated people convinced the bishop that All Saints' could be reborn. In 1992, we took a leap of faith. We found the courage to change our leadership; the Rev. Bonnie Perry agreed to be our interim Vicar and was appointed by the Bishop. With that decision came reinvigoration, realigned priorities and a rich infusion of individuals and talent that led to a virtual rebirth and reconnection to the outer community.

All Saints Today

Today, 220 to 230 people attend services on a typical Sunday, and the congregation has pledged more than $348,000 for fiscal year 2013. We completed the first phase of an ambitious capital campaign in 2005: 100 percent of the congregation contributed a total $720,000. During Bonnie Perry’s ministry, All Saints’ has paid off its $50,000 debt, allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars to outreach, refurbished our interior and made important structural improvements (including installing a sprinkler system to protect Chicago’s oldest wooden church). We now have new decisions ahead as we choose the best ways to continue strengthening and growing in our ministries, while maintaining the requirements of an aging historic church building.

Risen from the Ashes

In 1991, even before we knew just how perilously close we were to extinction, our then-tiny parish decided to redesign our logo. We prophetically adopted the symbol of the phoenix and underscored it with the phrase, "A Rising Church for the Risen Christ." In 2000, All Saints’ officially ascended from the ashes when it returned to parish status. Today, each and every service and ministry testifies to the energy, grace, spirituality and community involvement that now imbue our parish life.

I am the resurrection and the life: Those that believe in me, though they were dead, yet shall they live. And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

John 11:25-26 

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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.