Academy for Faith and Life

The Academy for Faith and Life provides short-term and ongoing adult education for the members and friends of Fourth Presbyterian Church and for the larger community. Its mission, further described in the explanation of the Academy seal (see below), is to draw participants into the many realms of God’s activity, emphasizing the intersection of faith and life. All persons are welcome to participate in Academy courses, and all meeting rooms are wheelchair accessible.

View the Academy for Faith and Life calendar here.


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Classes starting Sunday, September 28
World War I and the Twentieth-Century Crisis of Faith
Old Stories, New Dimensions:
   A Creative Writing and Biblical Storytelling Class

Class starting Sunday, October 12
The Power of Holiness: Varieties of Religious Experience in the Bible

Class starting Sunday, October 26
Zombie Revolution:
   Beliefs about the Dead, the Undead, and the Living

Class starting Sunday, November 9
A Look into Psychology and Faith

Other Opportunities
Understanding the New Presbyterian Hymnal, Glory to God
Enriching Relationships
Mindful Parenting
Faith in Focus:
   A Series for People in their Thirties and Forties

Writers’ Workshop


Academy Events

World War I and the Twentieth-Century Crisis of Faith
Sundays, September 28–October 19 (4 weeks)
9:30 a.m. in Room 5D
Led by Claudia Boatright, Fourth Church member

In observance of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914, this four-part course will explore an often overlooked aspect of the Great War: Did it ignite a global religious revolution?

World War I drew the world’s religious map as we know it today. It engendered not only the total upheaval of political, cultural, military, and social orders, but it also transformed the Christianity of the main combatant nations as well as the other great faiths of the world, especially Judaism and Islam. It destroyed a global religious order that had prevailed for the previous half millennium and had dominated much of the globe.

With the first eight chapters of Philip Jenkins’s critically acclaimed book The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade as our basic text, this class will focus on the transformation of the Christian faith—the greatest transformation, as some scholars have suggested, since the Reformation. In addition to Jenkins’s text, we will also draw upon the BBC documentary The Great War and the Shaping of the Twentieth Century.

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Old Stories, New Dimensions:
   A Creative Writing and Biblical Storytelling Class

Sundays, September 28–October 19 (4 weeks)
11:00 a.m. in Room 5E
Led by Layton Williams, Fourth Church Pastoral Resident

There are some biblical stories that are so well known that we consider them to be cornerstones of our faith: Jesus at the Last Supper, the binding of Isaac, the Garden of Eden—just to name a few. There are other stories that we may have heard over and over in church and Sunday school, such as Jonah and the whale, Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt, Jesus walking on water. And still other stories we don’t talk about nearly enough, such as Esther and King Ahausueras or the bleeding woman who seeks healing from Christ.

All of these stories have things to teach us and insight for our lives of faith, but when we do read them, we typically only engage with one voice—the dominant perspective of the story. What might these stories have to say if we looked at them from another perspective? How might our own unique contexts and life experiences enable us to lift up other voices and hear these stories in new ways?

This class will seek to engage those questions through creative writing as well as personal and biblical storytelling. Each of the four sessions will focus on one or two biblical stories and invite participants to reflect on how their own experience informs their reading of the story and to lift up another voice in the story through prose, poetry, or narrative. For instance, how might a wife and mother write a monologue in the voice of Lot’s wife? Or what might be the perspective of the sailors with Jonah on the ship (or even the whale!)? Or of Peter on the water with Jesus?

Come and explore these questions through your own creative impulses and enjoy the insights of others. The class requires no experience and no particular talent—just an open mind and a willingness to participate!

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The Power of Holiness: Varieties of Religious Experience in the Bible

Sundays, October 12–November 2 (4 weeks)
11:00 a.m. in Room 5G
Led by Tom Dozeman, Professor of Old Testament
   at Union Theological Seminary (Dayton, Ohio)

All religious experience derives from the holiness of God. This course will use research on the meaning of holiness from contemporary Jewish and Christian writers as a resource for identifying the varieties of religious experience that are described in the Bible. We will explore the range of the experience of holiness, from personal encounters with the divine to the corporate worship of God through word and sacrament.

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Zombie Revolution:
   Beliefs about the Dead, the Undead, and the Living

Sundays, October 26–November 16 (4 weeks)
9:30 a.m. in Room 5D
Led by Clare Rothschild, Associate Professor of Theological Studies
   at Lewis University

Zombies have taken the twenty-first century by storm! But that is nothing new: sleep is used as a metaphor for death by the Greeks since Homer. Slain by Agamemnon, Hector “dies the bronze sleep” (Il. 11.241; 14.482). The ancient Cretan sage Epimenides, precursor to the Rip Van Winkle legend, reputedly fell unconscious for decades, waking after fifty-seven years. For his ability to reverse loss of consciousness, the second-century physician Galen was credited with divination, prophecy, oracular utterances, luck, wondertelling, and wonderworking.

Early Christians used sleep in the metaphorical sense to refer to death. In the Gospel of Mark, for example, Jesus asks the crowd of mourners at Jairus’s house, “Why are you wailing and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” However, in nearly every case, precise New Testament terminology suggests a medical condition. The individual in such a state is not dead but comatose. Doctors of the day referred to it as a reversible loss of consciousness because it often corrected itself. Christians distinguished between those—whether alive or dead—who will perish at the last judgment and those, now dead, who will be revived at Christ’s return and judgment. They baptized the dead with this type of salvation in mind. If you’re interested in the zombie apocalypse, the early Christians, or what will happen to the dead on the Last Day, join us for this four-week exploration of early Christian beliefs about death.

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A Look into Psychology and Faith

Sundays, November 9–23 (3 weeks)
11:00 a.m. in Room 5G
Led by Tom Schemper,
   Director of the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being,

and Elinor Hite, Human Resources Consultant and Executive Coach

The relationship between psychology and faith is both compelling and mysterious. Why and when does faith come more readily to some and not to others? How much of a role does our family of origin occupy? At various points we move through life with unassailable hope and grace and yet often lament as those who can’t quite hold onto grace.

Join us for three Sundays as we begin to discuss what contributes to a vibrancy of faith; look at how change, ego, and emotion intersect with our relationship with God; and look at how we can get in the way of our own spiritual growth. Elam Davies, Pastor at Fourth Church from 1961 to 1984, was often heard to say, “Faith is a fact, not a feeling. Or is it both? Human beings are not static creatures and, thus, so very complicated.”

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Other Opportunities

Understanding the New Presbyterian Hymnal, Glory to God
Sunday, October 5 at 12:30 p.m. (1 week)
                repeated on
Sunday, November 2 at 12:30 p.m. (1 week)
In the Sanctuary
Led by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

On Sunday, November 30, the first Sunday in Advent, Fourth Presbyterian Church will begin using the new hymnal Glory to God, which was approved by the Session of Fourth Church last December. In this special class, Fourth Church Organist and Director of Music John W. W. Sherer will introduce the participants to this wonderful collection of hymns and songs.

Four hundred of the 600 hymns in our current hymnal—including all the ones we know and love—are in Glory to God. There is also a musical setting for nearly every psalm. Old favorites have been reinstated, and among the 853 hymns and songs in the new hymnal are more spirituals, gospel hymns, Taizé music, contemporary works, and global pieces. In all, Glory to God offers at least 400 new opportunities to enhance our already rich worship experience!

John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music, will present information about the new hymnal, demonstrate some of its music, and lead a question-and-answer session.

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Enriching Relationships
Fourth Sunday of the month, beginning October 26
(except in November)
Oct. 26, Nov. 16, Dec. 28
9:30 a.m. in Room 4G
Led by Rachael L. Miller, M.A., L.P.C., N.C.C.,
   of the Repogle Center for Counseling and Well-being

This series is for partners and spouses who want to take time together to grow and deepen their relationship. Classes will cover key topics, offer practical tools, and be directly applicable to everyday life as a couple. More information is available online here.

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Mindful Parenting
Sundays, Oct. 5, Nov. 9, Dec. 7
9:30 a.m. in Room 4G
Led by Sue Schemper, M.Ed., Spiritual Director and Educator

This is a monthly series centered on mindful, creative, and effective parenting. Participants will explore a variety of topics, such as

  • reducing stress in the home
  • discipline techniques that develop responsibility
  • creating a family culture that supports each member in developingtheir full potential
  • how to communicate effectively with schools and teachers
  • what to do when you believe intervention is needed with your child

More information is available on the Lorene Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being web page.

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Faith in Focus:
   A Series for People in their Thirties and Forties
Second Sunday of the month
(First Sunday in December)
Oct. 12, Nov. 9, Dec. 7, Jan. 11, Feb. 8, Mar. 8, Apr. 12, May 10
October–May
11:00 a.m. in Room 5F

Led by local religious scholars, “Faith in Focus” will use a theological-ethical lens to bring into focus different topics for each monthly conversation. We will explore multiple religious traditions from ancient to modern times. Large- and small-group formats will help foster a dynamic and thoughtful exchange.

More information is available on the ThirtiesForties web page.

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Writers’ Workshop
The Fourth Church Writers’ Workshop provides a mutually supportive community of Christian fellowship for writers of all genres and abilities, from beginners to professionals. Details are available here.

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Registration for Academy Classes

Please help us in our planning by preregistering for classes. You can register by

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Academy Newsletter

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

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Staff and Contact Information

Staff
Ryan Loeckel, Coordinator Adult Education and Worship (312.640.2570)

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 at academy@fourthchurch.org (312.640.2570).

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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. 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 Liz Nickerson (312.787.2729) at least one week prior to the event.

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