1. ABOUT FOURTH CHURCH
Who is Fourth Presbyterian Church?
A progressive congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Fourth Church is home to a vibrant and diverse worshiping community. We are committed to serving the needs of our neighbors, both locally and globally, and to pursuing racial equity as a community and within society.
Inspired by the radical hospitality of Jesus Christ, Fourth Church welcomes all of God’s children into the life of the church regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity, physical or mental ability, mental health, educational background, economic situation, religious background, or documentation status.
Our Mission Statement gives an additional glimpse into who we are, as does all that you will see and read here on this website.
How does Fourth Church live out its commitment to be an anti-racist congregation?
Fourth Church is committed to breaking down barriers and becoming a more racially inclusive community by including all people, striving for radical hospitality and modeling an antiracist approach in all areas. This work and commitment is a part of all that we do, with the Racial Equity Council serving as a catalyst in this intentional pursuit of racial equity.
Does Fourth Church welcome LGBTQIA+ persons?
Yes! For more than twenty years, Fourth Church, a partner congregation of the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches, has been a publicly welcoming congregation of LGBTQIA+ persons. Consistent with our welcome of all, we ordain LGBTQIA+ pastors and officers, celebrate marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples, and administer the Sacrament of Baptism to children of same-gender couples.
How does Fourth Church help people facing issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness?
In as many ways as we can. Through a range of programs Fourth Church addresses such issues on a personal level (providing clothing and food to individuals); on an ongoing “case” level (assisting persons in finding housing and employment); and on a systemic level (working for justice on a local, state, and national level).
What is involved in becoming a member of the church?
All are welcome to join Fourth Church, whether you are local or joining us from out of town! We ask that you attend a one-session Inquirers’ Class, during which you will have opportunity to learn about Fourth Church and the ways in which you might become involved in the life of this community. Should you decide to join the church, you be welcomed by the congregation during a Sunday morning worship service.
2. ABOUT WORSHIP
How many worship services are there on Sundays?
There are three services: 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. traditional worship services and the 2:00 p.m. service, which is more intimate, less formal. All three services take place in the Sanctuary (at Delaware and Michigan).
What is the music like during worship?
Music for the morning service is a mix of traditional and modern organ and choral music, with gospel, handbell, brass, drum, and string music mixed in on various Sundays. The 2:00 service features a breadth of musical expressions accompanied by piano, guitar, and drum.
Which services are livestreamed?
Both the 9:30 a.m. and the 2:00 p.m. worship services are livestreamed on our YouTube channel (and are available for later viewing should you want to view a worship service before you attend).
Can anybody come to services at Fourth Church?
Yes, all are welcome! Worshipers can sit wherever they wish; ask an usher if you want assistance.
Are the worship services handicap accessible?
Yes, all worship spaces at Fourth Church are fully handicap accessible from all three main entrances to the campus (on Michigan, Delaware, and Chestnut). When entering from Michigan Avenue, the accessible entrance is through the glass doors between the courtyard and the main entrance at Michigan and Delaware. At all services the ushers will help wheelchair users and their companions find good positions in the worship spaces.
Is there a dress code or expectation?
There is no dress code. Worshipers tend to dress in a way that is respectful of the sacred-space context, but personal expressions and interpretations of that recognition vary.
Can parents bring their children into worship?
Yes! We welcome people of all ages in worship. The ushers can provide coloring pages and crayons for young children, and parents can step out of worship with their children as desired, whether to the Narthex (the large lobby/vestibule at the entrance to the Sanctuary) or to the parents’ Comfort Room on the second floor of the Gratz Center. (Sunday School takes place during the morning worship hours for families who prefer that option, and there is also a Nursery during the morning worship times.)
How will I know what to do when I’m in the worship service?
There’s nothing to worry about! Everything is listed and explained in the worship bulletin that you are handed when you enter the Sanctuary, and everyone does everything in unison (like standing up and sitting down) so you’ll never get confused.
How long do the worship services last?
Both morning services are usually about an hour long; the 2:00 p.m. service is usually around 45 minutes in length.
Does the church receive an offering during worship services?
Yes, in the latter part of the worship service ushers come down the aisles to help pass and gather offering plates. No one is obligated to put any offering into the plate, and many people give their gifts electronically (that’s explained on the back page of the worship bulletin that each person receives).
Is there a parking lot for people who come to church?
There is not a dedicated church parking lot, but churchgoers receive discounted parking at the multistory parking garages directly across the street from the church both to the north (900 N. Michigan garage) and to the east (John Hancock garage). See the Map/Directions page for details.
Can I sing in the choir?
There are multiple choirs, one of which may be a perfect fit for you! The Morning Choir – which is in the choir loft on most Sundays – is comprised of professional singers and is joined by audition only, but the Chancel Choir, Gospel Choir, and Choral Society are open to all people who like to sing. More on Choirs
Is there an enrollment process for Sunday School?
No pre-enrollment is necessary. Parents and children who haven’t been to Sunday School here before simply come to the fourth floor of the Gratz Center before 9:30 on Sunday mornings and we’ll welcome you and take it from there. See the Sunday School page for more.
3. OTHER PROGRAMS OF THE CHURCH
Is the church open 7 days a week?
The church campus is open seven days a week for a wide range of programming.
Monday through Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Friday through Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Entry during those hours is at 126 E. Chestnut Street, a half-block west of North Michigan Avenue. (See the Overview page regarding the badge policy for persons entering the campus.)
The Sanctuary (worship space) is generally closed but opens at 11:30 a.m. on Fridays for the weekly Noonday (12:10 p.m.) concerts — except in July and August — and also of course for Sunday worship, as well as for concerts and special events.
Where are church job openings posted?
The Job Opportunities page is linked in the “About” page in the upper-left site menu and in the “Resources” menu in the footer.
Do you have to be a member to be employed by Fourth Church?
No, there are no religious requirements of any kind involved in being an employee of the church.
How do I volunteer for the church’s community service programs like serving meals?
The one-stop gateway is through the Volunteer page, or you can contact Robert Crouch, Director of Volunteer Ministries. (The meals programs are described on the Meals Ministry page.)
What’s the story on the volunteer tutoring program I heard about?
Our tutoring program has operated since 1964 and is now a program of Chicago Lights; see the Tutoring page for details on how to get involved.
What is Chicago Lights and how is it related to Fourth Church?
Chicago Lights is the community-outreach arm of the church and operates as an independent nonprofit organization. Chicago Lights website
Does the church accept donated clothes?
Yes; the donations needs are described on the Social Service Center page.
Can I make food donations for the meals programs?
Yes; that is mostly done online now and is explained on the Meals Ministry page.
How do I find out about free concerts at Fourth Church?
All of the concerts listed on the Concerts page are free except as noted.
4. ABOUT OUR HISTORY AND CAMPUS
Why is it called “Fourth” Presbyterian Church?
Because that is the name that the congregation chose when in 1871 it was formed by combining two older congregations. Ours was not, in fact, the “fourth” Presbyterian church in Chicago; by 1871 there was not just a First, Second, and Third but also a Fifth and a Seventh. But many startup churches were small and didn’t last, and when our congregation was birthed, “Fourth” was the lowest number available. (The First and Second Presbyterian Churches in Chicago survive to this day, but Third Presbyterian is long gone.)
How old is Fourth Church?
The congregation dates back to 1871, being formed by combining a congregation founded in 1848 with a congregation founded in 1855. Details are in Part 1 of the history section of this website.
The church buildings on Michigan Avenue date back to 1914. This is actually our third structure, the first one having been burned in the ChIcago Fire of 1871, and the second one having been outgrown by 1914. Details are in Parts 2 and 3 of the history section of this website.
Is Fourth Church a cathedral?
No. A cathedral is the house of worship containing the seat (Latin: cathedra) of a bishop, and there are no bishops in the Presbyterian denomination. It’s just a big church that looks a bit like some Gothic cathedrals!
Is Fourth Church a copy of a European church or cathedral?
No, it is not a copy of any specific building but rather an amalgam of English and French Gothic elements. See the architecture page for more.
What’s in the big glass building behind the church?
That is our 2012 addition, the Gratz Center, containing classrooms, a large chapel, the Day School, a large dining space, and administrative offices.
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