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.

Classes Beginning April 27
God and the Problem of Human Suffering
Introductory Overview of the Bible
The Path to Bach
Meditation, Neuroscience, and Christianity

Events | Registration | Michgian Avenue Forums
Bible Study | Other Opportunities | Child Care
| Newsletter | Contact

Academy Events

“God and the Problem of Human Suffering”
with Randall Zachman
April 27–May 11 (3 weeks)
11:00 a.m. on the fifth floor of the Gratz Center

What is the response of God to human suffering? Is God ever the source of human suffering? Why do faithful and obedient people suffer?

In examining the relationship of God to human suffering, this course uses three major biblical paradigms: the oppression of the Hebrews by Pharaoh and the Egyptians; the language of lamentation and protest in the psalms and prophets; and finally, the essential role of suffering in the life of the disciples of Jesus as described in the Gospel of Matthew.

The goal of the course is to begin to develop our own understandings of the relationship of God to human suffering, in dialogue with the positions set forth in scripture. It is recommended that participants read in advance the sections of scripture that will be discussed. The reading for the first class will be Exodus 1–15.

Randall Zachman is Professor of Reformation Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He holds a master of divinity from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Back to top

“Introductory Overview of the Bible”
with Vicky Curtiss
February 16–April 6, April 27–May 18 (12 weeks)
11:00 a.m. on the fifth floor of the Gratz Center

This introductory twelve-session class on the Bible will use the framework of “the mighty acts of God” to provide an understanding of how all the books of the Bible reveal God at work with God’s people and creation.

The class will give you a better grasp of the historical context and sequence of events for the Exodus and the promised land, the prophetic proclamations, the time of exile and restoration, the life and ministry of Jesus, and Paul’s witness in the early church.

The Mighty Acts of God, Revised Edition by Arnold B. Rhodes and W. Eugene March will be available for purchase, but purchase is optional. The book will not be needed for the class.

Vicky Curtiss is Associate Pastor for Mission at Fourth Presbyterian Church.

Back to top

“The Path to Bach”
with John Sherer
April 27–May 11 (3 weeks)
12:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary Choir Loft

How did Johann Sebastian Bach, who was one of the most popular and influential musicians in all of history, become Bach? This three-week series will try to answer that question.

Class topics include the Bach family tree and other influences on Bach throughout his life; the organ as pulpit; the relationship between text and Bach’s music; and coded messages hidden in the organ music.

Classes will meet in the Sanctuary Choir Loft and will include music played on the organ. Because of space requirements, the class size is limited to thirty people.

John Sherer is Organist and Director of Music at Fourth Presbyterian Church.

Back to top

“Meditation, Neuroscience, and Christianity”

with Adam Fronczek
April 27 and May 4 (2 weeks)
12:30 p.m. on the fifth floor of the Gratz Center

If you need a new reason to pray, science has one for you.

Neuroscientists have found that meditative practices offer tremendous benefits to brain health, psychological well-being, and interpersonal dynamics. No wonder our culture’s interest in meditative practices is growing. The good news for Christians is that this isn’t a fad.

For centuries, Christians have been practicing meditative prayer in ways that provide many of the same benefits. In this class, we will rediscover—and practice—some of these styles of meditation and prayer.

Adam Fronczek is Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Worship at Fourth Presbyterian Church.

Back to top

Registration for Academy Classes

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

Back to top

Other Opportunities

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.

Religion in Interfaith Homes: A Series for Couples and Families

As more and more people marry someone from a different faith, change faiths, or choose to embrace more than one faith, religious homes have become complex. “Religion in Interfaith Homes,” offered through the Interfaith Resource Committee at Fourth Church, is a monthly conversation series on questions that arise when more than one religion is part of a home. Details are available here.

Back to top

Academy Newsletter

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

Back to top

Staff and Contact Information

Adam Fronczek, Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Worship (312.640.5389)
Ryan Loeckel, Coordinator Adult Education and Worship (312.640.2570)

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 (312.640.2570).

Back to top

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.

Back to top