Michigan Avenue Forums

Michigan Avenue Forums at Fourth Presbyterian Church promote civic formation within the Chicagoland community by presenting a series of events that feature important thinkers and public leaders in live lecture or debate format, discussing current issues of civic and ethical priority.


Michigan Avenue Forum 2019:
Cardinal Cupich, Rabbi Geffen, Eboo Patel

Watch the video.

Michigan Avenue Forum at Fourth Presbyterian Church

On Tuesday, November 5, 2019,we had opportunity to hear three notable religious leaders—Cardinal Blase Cupich, Rabbi Wendi Geffen, and Eboo Patel—engage in a dialogue, sharing their own interfaith stories and exploring how each person’s religious tradition motivates him or her to love God and work toward community.

We are grateful to them for sharing those stories with us. Their dialogue embodied the gifts we receive when people of diverse backgrounds come together, and they inspired us as people of faith to live lives that enrich one another and, in so doing, God’s creation.

If you missed being with us or would like to hear their words again, we invite you to watch the video of this Michigan Avenue Forum.

Cardinal Blase Cupich was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1975 and was appointed Archbishop of Chicago by Pope Francis in 2014. He obtained his B.A. in philosophy from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota and attended seminary at the North American College and Gregorian University in Rome, where he received his baccalaureate in sacred theology, and his M.A. in theology. Cardinal Cupich is a graduate of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he received both a licentiate and a doctorate of sacred theology in sacramental theology.

In 2016, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Cupich to the Congregation for Bishops, and in 2017 to the Congregation for Catholic Education. He is an Executive Member of the Catholic Mutual Relief Society and Chancellor of the Catholic Church Extension Society, and the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois.

Rabbi Wendi Geffen has served as one of the rabbis at North Shore Congregation Israel since her rabbinic ordination in 2002, assuming the role of senior rabbi in July 2015. She is passionate about Judaism, Torah, and the ways these ancient sources of wisdom add meaning to our lives and enable us to better our world today. She dedicates herself to learning and teaching with those interested in developing their own Jewish identities and Jewish journeys, no matter their age or background.

Rabbi Geffen sees tikkun olam, the Jewish tenet of repairing the world, as a critical part of living a Jewish life and works to empower the synagogue and larger Jewish community around the imperative to pursue tzedek—justice. She is regularly sought as a teacher and speaker, and her writing has been widely published.

Rabbi Geffen has served in various leadership roles within the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), including serving as a Vice President of the CCAR, as well as the chair of the 2017 CCAR Convention. She is a “Rabbis without Borders” Fellow of Clal, as well as a 2012–2013 Writers Fellow of American Jewish World Service. Locally, Rabbi Geffen serves on the Executive Board of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, the Board of Jewish Child and Family Services’ Response Center, the Advisory Council of Glencoe Family Services, and is involved with the Jewish United Fund’s Jewish Community Relations Council.

Eboo Patel founded Interfaith Youth Core on the idea that religion should be a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. He is inspired to build this bridge by his identity as an American Muslim navigating a religiously diverse social landscape. For more than fifteen years he has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help make interfaith cooperation a social norm.

Eboo was named one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009 by U.S. News and World Report and served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council. He is the author of Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground, Interfaith Leadership: A Primer and Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise. He holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship.

In his off time, you’ll find Eboo in Chicago with his wife, Shehnaz, and their two sons. When he’s not teaching his kids about interfaith cooperation, there’s a good chance he’s rooting for Notre Dame and feeding a lifelong coffee addiction.


About Michigan Avenue Forums

Hosted by our adult education Academy for Faith and Life program, Michigan Avenue Forums have featured Elaine Pagels on her book Revelations; Walter Brueggemann on ministry in the twenty-first century; a panel discussion, cohosted with WBEZ, on NATO in the twenty-first century; Nadia Bolz-Weber on her books Pastrix and Accidental Saints; and a mass incarceration series that included an evening of conversation with Iva Carruthers and WBEZ’s Natalie Moore.

Want to learn more about other Academy for Faith and Life adult education opportunities? Check out our course listings, view our calendar, sign up for our newsletter, or contact the Academy staff at academy@fourthchurch.org.