Academy for Faith and Life

Welcome to the Academy for Faith and Life, an anchor component of Fourth Presbyterian Church’s adult education program. Through this program we provide short-term and ongoing education for our members, friends of the church, and the wider community.

The Adult Education Committee is committed to offering learning opportunities that invite participants to engage in a range of study options. You will find biblical and theological offerings for those who have years of prolonged study as well as for those who know little about Christian theology or the Bible. Some of the courses integrate issues of social and ethical importance with Christian principles and values. There are classes on spiritual development and practice and others that consider arts and culture. No matter your particular interests, we trust the Academy’s offerings will provide opportunities for growth and Christian community.

Look below for more information about this season's Academy for Faith and Life opportunities!


Join us for a Reformation trip to Europe in 2019!

Winter 2019 Adult Education Opportunities

Conversations at the Intersection of Faith and Life
with the Pastors of Fourth Church
Sunday, February 3 at 12:15 p.m.
Sundays, February 10–24 at 11:00 a.m.

Water: Use, Abuse, and Stewardship
Sundays, February 10–24 at 9:30 a.m.

Lenten Path of Discipleship Series
Tuesdays, March 12–April 16 at 6:00 p.m.

Bible Studies | Newsletter
Course Recommendations and Proposals

Contact Us | Child Care

Conversations at the Intersection of Faith and Life with the Ministers of Fourth Church

Sundays, February 3–24 (4 weeks)
12:15 p.m. on February 3 | 11:00 a.m. on February 10–24
in Borwell Dining Room

Join us in exploring the complexities of living with faith in the real world. Each week Fourth Church pastors will engage in conversation on “big” questions that arise when we try to practice our Christian faith in our daily lives. Come with your questions and comments; class participation will be encouraged.

February 3 at 12:15 p.m.
Shannon Kershner, Pastor
Shawn Fiedler, Ministerial Associate for Worship

How can I reconcile the violent events in the Old Testament with an all-loving God who wants only the best for humans?

February 10 at 11:00 a.m.
Judy Watt,
Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care
Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

How do we identify as Christians in a country where self-professed Christians are intolerant of differences in race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity?

February 17 at 11:00 a.m.
Matt Helms,
Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry
Vicky Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission
Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

We are told that God loves us, yet sometimes we feel abandoned and utterly alone. Where is God in those tough moments of life?

24 at 11:00 a.m.
Joe Morrow, Minister for Evangelism
Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

We read about tragic events in our city, nation, and world on a daily basis. At the same time we often feel internal pressure to do more and to “be more” than we are. Given these sources of worry, how do you sustain faith and hope in everyday life?

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Water: Use, Abuse, and Stewardship

Sunday, February 10–24 (3 weeks)
9:30 a.m. in Room 5E

Led by Louis Sytsma

We tend to take the very important physical blessing of water for granted. We rarely think about where it comes from or the treatment it receives once we use it or after we dispose of it.

Romans 8 reminds us that the entire creation is groaning. Shortages of clean, fresh water in one area, floods in another area, and pollutants that can lead to illnesses are all of concern somewhere in the world.

We’ll look at historical aspects related to water as well as such things as properties of water, consumption, conveyance, treatment systems, and contaminants and how these have evolved over the centuries. Stewardship principles for Christians called to be earthkeepers will be discussed. Special emphasis will be placed on waterways of the metropolitan Chicago area and our local concerns and treatment of water.

Louis Sytsma is Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at Trinity Christian College. He has been the Environmental Manager for Ozinga Ready-Mix Concrete for nearly thirty years and has completed research in environmental analysis at the Argonne National Laboratory.

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Academy Newsletter

To receive periodic email updates from the Academy for Faith and Life, send email addresses to

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Course Recommendations and Proposals

Suggestions for future course offerings can be submitted to or dropped off at the church reception desk.

Please use this Recommendation Form if you have an idea for a class or speaker; use this Proposal Form if you would like to submit a class of your own for consideration.

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Staff and Contact Information

    Lucy Forster-Smith
    Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

    Casie Dodd
    Adult Education Program Assistant

Contact Information
   • general questions or requests for information,
   • requests for class tapes,
   • evaluative comments,
   • suggestions for courses and speakers

—please contact the Academy office at

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Child Care

On Sunday mornings: Childcare for infants up to age two is available in the Nursery from 9:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Sunday School classes for all other children are offered at both 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. from September through May. For information about Sunday School and children’s and family programs, contact Matt Helms at 312.573.3362.

On weekdays
: To arrange childcare for weekday courses or events, contact Matt Helms (312.573.3362) at least one week prior to the event.

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View the Academy for Faith and Life calendar here.