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. All programming is currently offered virtually via Zoom.

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!

 

Online Adult Education Opportunities

First Tuesday Book Club

Foundations of Faith: An Hour a Week with the Bible

Adult Education Video Archive

Zoom Bible Studies

Newsletter
Course Recommendations and Proposals

Contact Us | Child Care



First Tuesday Book Club

This monthly book discussion is dedicated to examining the ethical and social issues facing Christians today. This is not just a book club; it is a forum for thinking Christians and others to wrestle with the complexities of living as faithful people in today's confusing world.

Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks
by Diana Butler Bass

   Tuesday, July 6
   7:00 p.m.
   Room 5G (Gratz Center)

Register online here.

Gratitude can be a complicated yet life-changing emotion. In Grateful: The Subversive Practice of Giving Thanks, Diana Butler Bass explores the “gratitude gap” that we can feel when private thanks and feelings of gratitude seem disconnected from our larger concerns in life. Using her trademark blend of historical research, spiritual insights, and timely cultural observation, Bass shows us how we can overcome this gap and make change in our own lives and in the world. We hope you will join us as Jim Garner leads us in a discussion of this fascinating book.

Registration is required and space is limited; the capacity for this event is twelve people.

Please note that masks are required for this gathering; those attending must self-certify they do not have COVID-19, are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, have no reason to quarantine, and will wear a mask and practice social distancing.

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Foundations of Faith: An Hour a Week with the Bible

This series, led by Fourth Church clergy, gives viewers the opportunity to explore the biblical narrative of our Jewish and Christian heritage, focusing on passages that chronicle this faith journey. Each session is self-contained, so watch as many sessions as you like, or the whole series!

To register for this series click here.

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Adult Education Video Archive

We encourage you to explore—or revisit, if you already attended the classes—the videos from the courses we offered earlier this year!

Paradigm Shift: An Artist’s Story

Women in the Book of Judges

The Great Divide: Inequity within Chicago Public Schools

Black History: Impact on Our Faith Traditions

On Restoring God’s Beloved Community

Pandemics, Biblical Reflections, and a Christian Call to Action

His Truth Is Marching On: The Life of John Lewis

Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet

Foundations of Faith: A Year with the Bible

Paradigm Shift: An Artist’s Story

In a one-on-one interview with Cynthia Johnson, Gerald Griffin—a prolific painter, sculptor, and poet whose painting “The Ascension” hangs in our Commons—provided us with a social commentary on current racial identity and effects on lingering problems of racial identity. Griffin’s “Paradigm Shift" is a series based on the concept of African Americans being viewed from the historical perspective of slavery. His narrative and art is focused on shifting that paradigm, exploring the life of modern-day African Americans, who they are as American people, and how they fit into the human family.

To watch both sessions of “Paradigm Shift: An Artist's Story,” click here.

Women in the Book of Judges

We were honored to have Dr. Steed Davidson lead us in an exploration of “Women in the Book of Judges.” Dr. Davidson is Dean of the Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs at McCormick Theological Seminary, where he is also Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. An ordained elder within the United Methodist Church, he is the author of Empire and Exile: Postcolonial Readings of Selected Texts of the Book of Jeremiah, as well as Writing/Reading the Bible in Postcolonial Perspective. He also serves on the editorial boards of Biblical Interpretation and Black Theology: An International Journal.

To watch all five sessions of “Women in the Book of Judges,” click here.

The Great Divide: Inequity within Chicago Public Schools

The average SAT score for Whitney Young High School students is 1286; for Harlan High students it is 773. Yet these youth are all part of the Chicago Public School (CPS) system. Why is there such great disparity among CPS schools? What needs to happen for all CPS students to get a high-quality education? What is our responsibility as Chicagoans and as part of the Fourth Church community?

In this series we hear from Derrick Dawson (Co-Program Coordinator, Chicago Regional Organizing Against Racism), Maurice Swinney (Chief Equity Officer, Chicago Public Schools), and Cassie Burke (Bureau Chief for the Chicago edition of Chalkbeat).

To watch recordings of all three sessions, click here.

Black History: Impact on Our Faith Traditions

The history many of us learned about our country and institutions—including churches—often overlooks the contributions, perspectives, and experiences of African Americans. This series highlights several aspects of history in the United States to help viewers gain a more complete picture of who and what has shaped our faith communities.

To watch “Black History: Impact on Our Faith Traditions,” click here.


On Restoring Gods Beloved Community: Looking for
    Guidance in Scripture

Jews and Gentiles created a uniquely inclusive community following the resurrection of Jesus. These early followers sought to live not by rules of empire but by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. A Holy Presence can be seen in their efforts to heal creation, working from distorted images of what it is to be human that derive from the early colonization of lands and peoples. Over time, this process led to the ongoing tenacious hold of white nationalism on religious and civic life. This series uses A Theological Commentary on the Book of Acts by Willie James Jennings, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School, to guide conversation.

To watch “On Restoring God’s Beloved Community: Looking for Guidance in Scripture,” click here.


Pandemics, Biblical Reflections, and a Christian Call to Action

Using Walter Brueggeman's Virus as a Summons of Faith as a starting point, this class examines the ways COVID-19 challenges us to reexamine and rededicate our faith. The pandemic has forced us to confront our worldly limitations and consider the unknowability of God's plans for us. As we begin building a “new normal,” the lessons we can learn must not be swept away. Rather, the upheaval has presented us with a new urgency for restoring our covenant with God through prayer and service.

To watch “Pandemics, Biblical Reflections, and a Christian Call to Action,” click here.


His Truth Is Marching On: The Life of John Lewis

The life of the late civil rights pioneer and United States Representative John Lewis is the subject of a recent biography by Jon Meacham, His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope. Meacham's book served as the basis of this class, which explored Lewis's struggles during the 1960s, his later political life, and his faith in the American system to overcome its past problems and affirm the worth and rights of all its citizens.

To watch “His Truth Is Marching On: The Life of John Lewis,” click here.


Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet

Through scriptural study and discussion, this class examines the persistent mercy of God in the comic and tragic story of Jonah, the reluctant prophet.

To watch “Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet,” click here.


Foundations of Faith: A Year with the Bible

This series, led by Fourth Church clergy, gives viewers the opportunity to explore the biblical narrative of our Jewish and Christian heritage, focusing on passages that chronicle this faith journey. Each session considers a passage in its historical setting and addresses how the passage is relevant to the contemporary world. Each session is self-contained, so watch as many sessions as you like, or the whole series!

Past Foundations of Faith Classes

“Knowing God, Loving God, Serving God”
with David Handley

October 4, 2020
To watch a recording of this class, click here.

“Varying Voices of the Prophets: Cries for Justice, Lamentation, and Consolation” with Jeffrey Doane
October 11 and 25, 2020
To watch recordings of this two-week class, click here.

“From Pentecost to Constantine: How the Early Church Grew” with Matt Helms
November 1, 8, and 15, 2020
To watch recordings of this three-week class, click here.

“Scriptural Journeys: The Enduring Power of Migrations in the Bible” with Joe Morrow
November 22, December 6 and 13, 2020
To watch recordings of this class, click here.

“End Times: A New Look” with Lucy Forster-Smith
January 31, February 7 and 14, 2021
To watch recordings of this class, click here.

“Love Letters: 1, 2, 3 John” with Rocky Supinger
April 11, 18, and 25, 2021
To watch recordings of this class, click here.

“The Bible as a Weapon: Disarming the Clobber Passages” with Nanette Sawyer
May 2, 9, and 16, 2021
To watch recordings of this class, click here.

For “Foundations of Faith: A Year with the Bible” classes from 2019, click here.

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Zoom Bible Studies

  • Horizons Women's Bible Study, based on the guide from Horizons magazine, meets on Zoom at 12:00 noon on second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.
  • Men's Bible Study meets on Zoom every Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m.

For more information about joining either of these studies, contact Simon Crow.


Academy Newsletter

To receive periodic email updates from the Academy for Faith and Life, send email addresses to mmirza@fourthchurch.org.

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Course Recommendations and Proposals

Suggestions for future course offerings can be submitted to mmirza@fourthchurch.org 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

Staff
    Lucy Forster-Smith
    Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education
    lforster-smith@fourthchurch.org
    312.573.3364

    Michael Mirza
    Director of Worship

   312.252.3567
    mmirza@fourthchurch.org

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

—please contact the Academy office.

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View the Academy for Faith and Life calendar here.