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 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.

Calvin College “January Series” | Suffering and Hope in Second Isaiah
Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship
| The Gospel of Matthew
Roots of American Racism: Part II | Reading Romans with Karl Barth
World Mission Series | Early Christian Worship
Hospitality—the Sacred Art | The Righteous Mind | Theology of CultureBook Studies | Author Event | Bible Studies | Newsletter
Contact Us | Child Care

Calvin College “January Series”

January 4–24, 2017 • 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. in the Page Smith Room

This is a joint event with the Center for Life and Learning.

Please note that we will not be hosting a viewing on January 16, as we will be closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The award-winning “January Series” of Calvin College is coming to downtown Chicago. From January 4 through January 24, Fourth Presbyterian Church will be one of fifty remote webcast locations worldwide to broadcast one of the nation’s leading lecture and cultural arts series.

A few of the featured presenters in the series’ thirtieth-anniversary year include Doris Kearns Goodwin, a world-renowned presidential historian and Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist; Gary Haugen, CEO and founder of International Justice Mission; and Matthew Desmond, cofounder of the Justice and Poverty Project and the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” grant.

The lectures will be video-streamed live in the Page Smith Room from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CST Mondays through Fridays. The lectures are free and open to the public. For more information about these speakers and topics, visit

Tuesday, January 17 | Doris Kearns Goodwin
   “How Did We Get Here? A Historical Perspective on Our Wild 2016 Election”

Wednesday, January 18 | Eugene Cho
   “Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World
      than Actually Changing the World?”

Thursday, January 19 | Taylor Davis in Concert

Friday, January 20 | Bryan Dik
   “How to Find and Live Your Calling: Lessons from the Psychology of Vocation”

Monday, January 23 | Jeremy Courtney
   “Loving Our Enemies: Living amongst ISIS”

Tuesday, January 24 | N. T. Wright
   “The Royal Revolution: Fresh Perspectives on the Cross”

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Suffering and Hope in Second Isaiah
with Tom Dozeman and John Buchanan

9:30 a.m. in Room 5G • Sunday, January 8–29 (4 weeks)

Isaiah 40–66 struggles with the promises of salvation after the Jerusalem temple is destroyed and the Davidic king is exiled. It explores the theme of suffering, when the life of the faith is reduced to a wilderness journey and the promise of the Messiah is only a future hope. Join us for four weeks of study and reflection on the themes of suffering and hope in Isaiah 40–66.

Thomas Dozeman is an ordained Presbyterian minister and member of the Presbytery of the Miami Valley, Ohio. He teaches Old Testament at United Theological Seminary, Ohio.

John Buchanan was Pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church from 1985 until his retirement in January 2012. He also served as Publisher of the Christian Century and Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA).


Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship
with Reggie Williams

11:00 a.m. in Room 5G • Sundays, January 22–February 5 (3 weeks)

Join McCormick Theological Seminary’s Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics, Reggie Williams, as he returns to the Academy to lead a timely and theologically relevant conversation on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic work The Cost of Discipleship.

Supplemental reading for the class will include Christian ethicist Glen H. Stassen’s Living the Sermon on the Mount: A Practical Hope for Grace and Deliverance. Copies of the two texts can be purchased at the Book Nook during Coffee Hour.

Reggie Williams
joined the faculty of McCormick Theological Seminary as Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics in July of 2012. Before coming to McCormick, Reggie taught ethics at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and Practical Theology at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. He is the author of
Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance.


The Gospel of Matthew with Anna Case–Winters

9:30 a.m. in Room 5G • Sundays, February 5–26 (4 weeks)

Why Matthew? Why now? Can such an ancient text be relevant to our very different context? We will discover a remarkable relevance in this gospel which as written in a time

• when there was conflict and division
   in the community of faith
• when some were insiders and others were outsiders
• when political and religious leaders were co-opted,
   mistrusted, and discredited
• when the great majority of the common people
   were without power
• when cultures clashed

This New Testament book continues to surprise and seize us with its relevance, eloquence, and power. This class will examine the compelling portrait of Jesus presented in Matthew; explore the teachings of Jesus, especially in the Sermon on the Mount; and consider the ethical implications of the Lord’s Prayer. Copies of Anna Case-Winter’s book, A Theological Commentary on the Book of Matthew, will be available at the Book Nook during Coffee Hour.

Anna Case-Winters is an ordained Presbyterian minister and Professor of Theology at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. She is the author of three books: God’s Power: Traditional Understandings and Contemporary Challenges, Reconstructing a Christian Theology of Nature: Down to Earth, and A Theological Commentary on the Book of Matthew. She is currently engaged in research and writing in projects that relate theology to science, eco-justice issues, and the church in the world today.


Roots of American Racism: Part II with Claudia Boatright

11:00 a.m. in Room 5G • Sundays, February 5–26 (4 weeks)

Although 186,000 African Americans fought and died in the Civil War, tragically freedom from slavery did not bring freedom from hatred, fear, and persecution. The failure of the post–Civil-War Reconstruction era to bring about true racial equality laid the foundation of what came to be known as the Jim Crow era. While great progress was effected by African Americans during the first half of the twentieth century and the civil rights movement of the 1950–60s knocked down many barriers, changing hearts and minds has proven a far more formidable task. American racism persists in our schools, our cities, our economy, and our justice system. If part of true Christian discipleship is witnessing to the belief that we are all children of God and that all races are equal in the sight of the God, then understanding and confronting the history of American racism is fundamental to our faith.

This four-week course will pick up where the Winter 2016 series ended, beginning with a study of the post-Civil War era and the birth of Jim Crow and will trace the efforts of leaders both black and white during the first half of the twentieth century to end segregation, ending at the doorstep of the great civil rights movement after World War II. Copies of the text for this course, The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Van Woodward, will be available at the Book Nook during Coffee Hour.

Claudia Boatright, a member of Fourth Presbyterian Church, is a retired history teacher with thirty-six years of classroom experience, including twenty-one years as an adjunct instructor at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. She has also taught several adult education seminars and classes, including previous courses in the Academy for Faith and Life.


Reading Romans with Karl Barth during Lent
with Robert Cathey

9:30 a.m. in Room 5G • Sundays, March 5–26 (4 weeks)

Karl Barth (1886–1968) became one of the most influential Christian thinkers of the twentieth century, responding to the crises of two world wars, the rise of fascism, and the secularization of Europe. In this course we will read parts of his groundbreaking commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans, first published when Barth was an unknown pastor in a Swiss mining town. The readings will follow
the lectionary texts from Romans that will be used in worship at Fourth Church during the four Sundays of March. Reading Barth will also help us understand the Barmen Declaration of 1934 against the Nazi regime and the Confession of 1967
of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

You are welcome to purchase a copy of Barth’s The Epistle to the Romans, sixth edition (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1968) and Kenneth Oakes’ Reading Karl Barth: A Companion to Karl Barth’s “Epistle to the Romans” (Wipf and Stock Publ., 2011), though copies of the sections we are focusing on will be available at our first class session. Please feel free to email Robert Cathey ( with any questions.

Robert Cathey is Professor of Theology at McCormick Theological Seminary and a Minister of Word and Sacrament in Chicago Presbytery. He is the author of God in Postliberal Perspective: Between Realism and Non-Realism.


PC(USA) World Mission Series

11:00 a.m. in Borwell Dining Room • Sundays, March 5–26 (4 weeks)

Fourth Church supports mission engagement nationally and internationally through our denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA). In this series, we will learn the theology and philosophy of how we do mission, as well as some of the specific ways our national church is engaged in outreach and justice work. Our teachers for this course will be the staff of the PC(USA) General Assembly, our national center. (Watch for future updates with names and the dates each will be with us.) Come and be inspired by our teachers!


Early Christian Worship with Carol Korak

9:30 a.m. in Room 5F • Sundays, April 2, 9, 23, and 30 (4 weeks)

If you were to travel back in time to a church, you might find yourself in familiar territory. This is because much of what we say and do in worship has been handed down to us. Our order of worship and even our architecture is shaped by early Christianity.

This four-week course will explore the intersection of prayer, belief, and praxis in the development of early Christian liturgy.

Week 1: Symbolism in the Procession of the Faithful
              and Church Architecture
Week 2: The Eucharistic Liturgy
Week 3: Prayer and Belief: God as Trinity
Week 4: Origins of Christian Baptism

Carol Korak is an adjunct professor of historical theology and church history at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She received a M.T.S. from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, where she is a Ph.D candidate. Her current work centers on the concepts of “divinization”—the goal of the Christian life found in the writings of Augustine of Hippo and Maximus the Confessor.


Hospitality—the Sacred Art with Nanette Sawyer

11:00 a.m. in Room 5F • Sundays, April 2, 9, and 23 (3 weeks)

Join Nanette Sawyer as she leads a conversation through her book Hospitality—the Sacred Art. This class will provide an in-depth conversation of how hospitality can deepen a personal and collective spirituality both in the world of church and out in our greater world.

Nanette Sawyer is Minister for Congregational Life at Fourth Presbyterian Church. An ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church (USA), she serves as a representative on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches USA.


The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
with Nanette Sawyer

9:30 a.m. in Room 5F • Sundays, May 7–21 (3 weeks)

Nanette Sawyer reprises her book group from Fall 2016 with a three-week series exploring how we communicate morally and politically. Jonathan Haidt’s work provides an intensely thorough backdrop from which to ponder questions of communicating through reason versus communicating for influence. Join us to explore further how this might be affecting Fourth Church, our individual faith, and our collective faith.

Nanette Sawyer is Minister for Congregational Life at Fourth Presbyterian Church. An ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church (USA), she serves as a representative on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches USA.


Theology of Culture, Discipleship, and the Secular Creed
with Michael Kazanjian

11:00 a.m. in Room 5F • Sundays, May 7–21 (3 weeks)

Scripture says God created the world and it was good. This class will explore “theology of culture.” Theology of culture is a new term for scriptural truths on discipleship, in which disciples share a “secular creed” with atheists and others. For disciples, the creed derives secular wholes from holiness as disciples protect the environment, heal the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, affirm and expand the priesthood of believers to workers and nonbelievers, unify mind and body, prevent or solve problems, and keep the sabbath. We analyze discipline, asceticism, yoga, anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. This aims to unify the world.

Michael Kazanjian holds a B.A. and M.A .in philosophy and has continued graduate work for his Ph.D. Currently Michael is a philosophy instructor at
Triton College, where his teaching has included ethics, world religion, and introduction to philosophy. He has authored two books,
Phenomenology and Education and Learning Values Lifelong, and thirty papers and conference presentations in philosophy, sociology, and political science.


Academy for Faith and Life Book Study Groups

Join pastors and staff of Fourth Church in a monthly book study group. The books are chosen individually by the staff and are presented as a way to more deeply dive into the theological topics and conversations in our world. Books for the study groups will be available at the Book Nook during Coffee Hour.

With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman by Howard Thurman

Discussion led by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

6:30–8:00 p.m. in the Page Smith Room
Tuesday, January 17 (1 week only)

Howard Thurman is recognized as one of the great religious leaders of the twentieth century. Join Judy Watt for a survey of his life through his own writing.

It’s Complicated, the social lives of networked teens

by danah boyd

Discussion led by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

6:30–8:00 p.m. in the Page Smith Room
Tuesdays, February 21 and 28 (2 weeks)

Join Rocky Supinger for a conversation regarding social networking, the church, and our youth. What does it mean to grow up in a networked world, and how might that be affecting or changing the church?

Faithful Resistance by Rick Ufford-Chase

Discussion led by Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident

6:30–8:00 p.m. in the Page Smith Room
Tuesdays, March 8 and 22 (2 weeks)

Join Abbi Heimach-Snipes for a conversation about the institution of the church. With Faithful Resistance as the foundation of this conversation, fourteen contributing authors offer their own ideas for ways to move the Christian church to a place of faithfulness in the midst of the empire. Rick Ufford-Chase adds his own observations about the compromised condition of our church institutions, along with concrete suggestions for bringing us home to the heart of the gospel.

Life Together
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Discussion led by John M. Buchanan, Pastor Emeritus

6:30–8:00 p.m. in Anderson Hall
Wednesday, April 5, 12, and 19 (3 weeks)

Join John Buchanan as he takes us through Bonhoeffer’s days in an underground seminary in Germany during the Nazi years. Bonhoeffer’s personal struggles and discernment provide a solid context from which to flesh out our own individual and collective faiths and ask the question “How are we seeking, individually and collectively, to share our lives in Christ together in this world?”


Author Anna Redsand
To Drink from the Silver Cup:
From Faith through Exile and Beyond

7:00 p.m. in Anderson Hall • Thursday, March 9

Ann Redsand’s book To Drink from the Silver Cup: From Faith through Exile and Beyond is a spiritual memoir about the daughter of fundamentalist missionaries in the Navajo Nation. The book tells the story of her decision to leave a deeply religious life after discovering there would be no place for her there as a young lesbian. It then follows the subsequent forty years that took her on a journey through other spiritual traditions as she continued to long for home, eventually deciding to try a deliberate experiment to discover if she can still find kinship in a Christian faith community, even when she no longer believes much of what she had once been taught.

Anna Redsand is a white woman who was raised by fundamentalist missionary parents in the Navajo Nation. Her spiritual journey memoir, To Drink from the Silver Cup: From Faith Through Exile and Beyond, was released by Terra Nova Books in 2016; much of it takes place in Navajo Country. Her biography, Viktor Frankl: A Life Worth Living, has won four national and international awards. Her essays and stories have appeared in literary journals, and her essay “Naturalization” was listed as notable in The Best American Essays 2014.


Bible Studies

“Faith Today”

Wednesdays • 12:00–1:00 p.m. in the Gratz Center

“Faith Today,” offered through Fourth Church’s Center for Life and Learning (CLL), is a “hybrid” Bible study: part fellowship, part practice of the ancient prayer style of lectio divina, part learning about scripture, and part prayers of the people. All bring a hunger for a greater understanding of how God’s word can inform and shape our lives.

Led by CLL Program Coordinator Susan Quaintance, this class is open to anyone on a drop-in basis, and no RSVP is required. All ages and walks of faith are welcome.

Susan Quaintance holds an M.A. in theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. She taught high-school theology and English for more than twenty years and has facilitated many adult days of recollection and retreats. For more information, contact Susan Quaintance at 312.981.3386.

Horizons: A Monthly Women’s Bible Study

Second Wednesday of the Month
12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. • Room 4H in the Gratz Center

Interested in taking part in a Bible study that has been field tested by women’s groups all over the country? Join a monthly women’s Bible study, offered through Women at Fourth, based on the guide from Horizons magazine.For more information and to sign up (required), contact Anne Ellis at 312.573.3369.

“Weekly Seeds” at Fourth | A Weekly Women’s Bible Study

Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • Room 5H in the Gratz Center

“Weekly Seeds” at Fourth uses a United Church of Christ lectionary-based curriculum. In a discussion-based format, participants in this study moderated by Anne Stelle review the focus Bible passage, examine the attached reflection, and share thoughts about the in-depth questions that are provided. During the weeks that the Academy for Faith and Life has a Bible class at 9:30 a.m., “Weekly Seeds” at Fourth participants join that class and then return to the Weekly Seeds series when the Academy class is finished.

Anne Stelle is a Fourth Church member with an M.Div. from McCormick Theological Seminary. She has served as a Trustee, Elder, and Deacon at
Fourth Church and is currently serving as a chaplain at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Men’s Bible Study

First and third Tuesdays of the month • 7:30 a.m. in the Loop

A Men’s Bible Study focusing on lectionary readings from the pulpit meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 7:30 a.m. in the Loop. For more information or to RSVP (required), contact Anne Ellis at 312.573.3369.


Academy Newsletter

To receive periodic email updates from the Academy for Faith and Life, send email addresses to

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Staff and Contact Information

Allison Santos (312.573.3363).

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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