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!

Spring 2019 Adult Education Opportunities

Meditating on the Psalms
Sunday, April 28–May 12 at 9:30 a.m.

Marilynne Robinson’s The Givenness of Things
Sunday, April 28–May 12 at 11:00 a.m.

Why We March: Stonewall to Today
Sunday, May 5 at 12:15 p.m.

CANCELED: Just Peace in the Middle East through
Education: The Work of Pilgrims of Ibillinn
Sunday, May 26 at 11:00 a.m.

Bible Studies | Newsletter
Course Recommendations and Proposals

Contact Us | Child Care

Meditating on the Psalms

Sunday, April 28–May 12 (3 weeks)
9:30 a.m. in Room 5E

Led by Stephen Hall

In Psalm 1, the virtuous person is described as one who meditates on the psalms. In this course participants will learn theological and practical ways to understand the psalms more deeply.

By studying different types of psalms, we will explore how both praise and lament contribute to an overarching spiritual theme through unique poetic expressions. By blending lecture, discussion, and workshop, readers will learn to meditate on the psalms as a group and independently for their own edification.

Join us as we dig deeper into the “Prayer Book of the Church.”

Stephen Hall holds an MA in Hebrew language studies from the American Institute in Jerusalem, a ThM in Old Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is working on a PhD at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is a returning instructor to the Academy for Faith and Life.

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Marilynne Robinson’s The Givenness of Things

Sunday, April 28–May 12 (3 weeks)
11:00 a.m. in Room 5E

Led by Jeff Doane

Marilynne Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist and a superb essayist; many consider her one of the foremost cultural and theological voices of our time. Jeff Doane will join us again this spring to dive into four essays from Robinson’s collection, The Givenness of Things —“Reformation,” “Value,” “Experience,” and “Limitation.”

These pieces provide critiques of current societal values and patterns, as well as reflections on our theological language. Topics range from fear and limitation to grace awakening; the collection also includes an in-person conversation with former President Barack Obama. In these essays Robinson offers us an opportunity to help shift our focus from often polarizing interactions to the faith-based values that underlie our current social realities.

Participants will be asked to purchase the book of essays to get the fullest experience out of the class and to aid group discussion.

Jeff Doane is on staff at Fourth Church as the Parish Associate for Older Adults.
An ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church (USA), he is Pastor Emeritus
of Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church.

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Why We March: Stonewall to Today

Sunday, May 5
12:151:10 p.m. in Buchanan Chapel

Cosponsored by the Fourth Church LGBTQIA Group “Widening Our Welcome”

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, an event in New York City in 1969 that sparked the gay rights movement and international Pride Parades. On the last Sunday of each June, our church marches in Chicago’s Pride Parade. Why is that, and what does it mean to our community?

Come hear the stories of congregants, clergy, and staff from Fourth Church as they reflect on the meaning of Stonewall today as well as our participation in the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches.

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CANCELED: Just Peace in the Middle East through Education: The Work of Pilgrims of Ibillin

Sunday, May 26
11:00 a.m. in Room 5E

Led by Laurie Lyter Bright

This presentation will be held in conjunction with Father Elias Chacour preaching during Fourth Church morning on 9:30 and 11:00 a.m.
on May 26.

Laurie Lyter Bright will share her understanding of life in Palestine and Israel today. She will discuss the mission of Pilgrims of Ibillin, which supports the Mar Elias Educational Institutions and other mission projects that cultivate a just peace in Israel and Palestine. The organization’s primary goals are to promote justice and peace, encourage open dialogue, and support peaceful coexistence among diverse cultural and religious groups in the Middle East. Join us to learn more about this group and how to support the continuing existence of threatened Christian communities in Israel and Palestine. We also invite you to worship with us at 9:30 a.m. to hear Elias Chacour, founder of Mars Elias University, preach.

Laurie Lyter Bright, Pilgrims of Ibillin’s executive director, is a minister in
the Presbyterian Church (USA), a Lewis Fellow, and a doctoral candidate at Colorado State University in education and research methodology. She is author
of the recently published book Vagabonding: In Defense and Praise of Millennial Faith, and studies the church as a site of education and justice, primarily around issues of rape culture.

Elias Chacour is Archbishop of the Melkite Church, founder of Mars Elias University in the village of Ibillin in northern Israel, and author of Blood Brothers. He is internationally known for his work for reconciliation between Palestinians and Jews.

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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.