Academy for Faith and Life

The Academy for Faith and Lifeprovides 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.

Below is a listing of the opportunities you can look forward to this fall. These offerings give you a range of options that will help you engage the important questions of faith in your life and the opportunity to gather with others on their journey of faith.

This fall we will observe the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation through a variety of courses. We will explore our deep Reformed heritage and discern what challenges and excitement will greet us in this new era of Christian faith.

Come with your questions and curiosities, your confidence and your doubt. Come whether you are steeped in knowledge or new to your Christian journey. Come and explore this wild and wonderful life of faith!

Celebrating the Reformation

The Reformations of the Sixteenth Century: 500 Years and Counting
Sundays, November 5–19 at9:30 a.m.

Reformed and Always Reforming: Doing Church Differently
Sundays, December 3–17 at 11:00 a.m.


More Academy Opportunities

God in the Modern Wing
Sundays, November 5–19 at 11:00 a.m.

Bible Studies | Newsletter | Contact Us | Child Care

The Reformations of the Sixteenth Century:
        500 Years and Counting

Sundays, November 5–19 (3 weeks)
9:30 a.m. in Room 5G

Led by Ken Sawyer

How best to consider the remarkable reformations of the sixteenth century? In three sessions we will pursue the liveliest questions of the Reformations, with close attention to the people, texts, and conflicts of that struggle. We will take a specific look at the Reformations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, exploring women and men within our Reformed tradition as an expression, extension,
and elaboration of the insights of the first generation of reform. Join us as we explore and engage the sharpest edges of the Reformations.

November 5: Reformations
What was it all about? What and why did Protestants protest?
We’ll discuss the main teachers, texts, and trajectories.

November 12: Continuing Quarrels
The Western world is still troubled by some sixteenth-century concerns. We will explore some of the Reformation controversies that remain today.

November 19: Beyond Commemoration
Five hundred years and counting: what is worth remembering and even rekindling in the Reformation way? We’ll connect the Reformations with contemporary reflection.

Ken Sawyer is Professor of Church History and Associate Dean for Student Academics at McCormick Theological Seminary. Ken received his Ph.D. in the history of Christianity from the University of Chicago Divinity School and his teaching and research focus upon Reformation topics, Anglo-American Reformed groups, Puritanism, New School and Old School Presbyterianism, as well as
issues of gender and power in the history of Christianity. He is a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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Reformed and Always Reforming:
        Doing Church Differently

Sundays, December 3–17 (3 weeks)
11:00 a.m. in Room 5D

Led by Abbi Heimach-Snipes

As Presbyterians, we take pride in being “Reformed and Always Reforming,” but how is our beloved church reforming today?

In this three-part series, we will discuss why the church needs to keep reforming, share examples of how churches are “doing church differently” today, and engage in dialogue on what we think and feel about the changing church. We’ll even get to try out a “new” form of Bible study that involves Beyoncé (yes, Beyoncé).

Whether you have ideas for the reforming church or are scared to death
of it, we hope you join us in this three-part series!

Abbi Heimach-Snipes is an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and serves as Pastoral Resident at Fourth Church, where she is involved in many aspects of congregational life at Fourth Church, including leadership at Jazz at Four worship (Sundays at 4:00 p.m.) and ministry with young adults. She comes to us with experience working in the Young Adult Catalyst office at the Presbyterian Church (USA) headquarters and at Chicago-based church plant Urban Village Church.

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God in the Modern Wing

Sundays, November 5–19 (3 weeks)
11:00 a.m. in Borwell Dining Room

Moderated by Walter Hansen

“God in the Modern Wing” returns to Fourth Church for its third year, with new presenters and new topics.

We invite you to join us for this series of three Sunday morning lectures that will explore the spiritual significance of modern and contemporary art in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This series of presentations and conversations is being hosted in partnership with Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA).

       November 5: Steve Prince, “Elizabeth Catlett and Charles White”
       November 12: Makoto Fujimura, “Mark Rothko”
       November 19: Linda Stratford, “Jackson Pollock”

G. Walter Hansen is a member of Fourth Presbyterian Church, Professor Emeritus at Fuller Theological Seminary, and moderator of the God in the
Modern Wing sessions.

Steve Prince, a native of New Orleans, is currently Assistant Professor
of Art and Artist in Residence at Allegheny College. He received his B.F.A. from Xavier University and his M.F.A. in printmaking and sculpture from Michigan State University. An accomplished lecturer and preacher, he maintains that “we are all living epistles,” and aims to take his visual ministry to the streets, where art can serve as a bridge to help people find their way from brokenness to beauty.

Makoto Fujimura is director of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary. An internationally known painter and writer, she is the author of Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life. She served as a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003 to 2009 and, in 1991, founded the International Arts Movement (IAM).

Linda Stratford, Ph.D., is a historian of art and society. Her Millstone Prize article “American Art in France Following the Liberation” was published in the Journal of the Western Society for French History. She is founding director of Asbury University’s Paris Semester program, where she teaches art history and French history, and is coauthor of ReVisioning: Critical Methods of Seeing Christianity in the History of Art.

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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

    Shawn Fiedler
    Worship and Adult Education Coordinator

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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View the Academy for Faith and Life calendar here.