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.

Classes Beginning November 6 | Class Offered December 11
Calvin College “January Series”
Book Studies | Bible Studies | Newsletter | Contact Us | Child Care


Many Names and Images for God with Vicky Curtiss

9:30 a.m. in Room 5F • Sundays, November 6–20 (3 weeks)

There are many names and images for the Divine beyond those most familiar to us. The ways we image and talk of God both reveal and influence how we pray and relate to God. This class explores a variety of images of God found in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in our own current experiences of God’s presence in our lives.

Resources: Glory to God hymnal and other hymns, the Bible, and Fragments of Your Ancient Name by Joyce Rupp.

Vicky Curtiss is Associate Pastor for Mission at Fourth Presbyterian Church and a spiritual director.


Jesus and Socrates with Adam Rose

9:30 a.m. in Room 5G • Sundays, November 6–27 (4 weeks)

The lives and deaths of Socrates and Jesus had some remarkable parallels. Both were charismatic teachers claiming to be on divine missions. Both were executed by the ruling elites they challenged. And both were vindicated in the writings of their disciples.

This course will explore these and other parallels by reading and discussing both canonical and noncanonical defenses of the life of each. In addition to examining the teachings of each figure, we will consider how each one’s calling and legacy is portrayed in the various accounts.

Adam Rose, educated principally at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago, is a teacher and scholar with more than twenty years’ experience leading award-winning Socratic Method seminars and lecturing on Western Classics (“Great Books”) to adult and undergraduate students of diverse ages and backgrounds. Adam has a special interest in the secular, nonsectarian study of the Abrahamic scriptures as literature (especially from comparative or “interfaith” perspectives) and Socratic Dialogues of all kinds. Adam currently teaches primarily at the University of Chicago’s Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults.


God in the Modern Wing: Part II with Walter Hansen and visiting artist scholars

11:00 a.m in Borwell Dining Room • Sundays, November 6–20 (3 weeks)

Trip to the Art Institute of Chicago following the 11:00 a.m. class on November 20

Again this year we invite you to join us for a series of three Sunday morning lectures on the theme “God in the Modern Wing.” Hosted by Walter Hansen, a member of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), this series of lectures and conversations explores the spiritual significance of modern and contemporary art in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.

November 6: David McNutt, “Andy Warhol”
November 13: Bruce Herman, “Richard Diebenkorn and Philip Guston”
November 20: Leah Samuelson, topic to be announced

G. Walter Hansen received a B.A. in Philosophy from Wheaton College and a Th.D. from the University of Toronto. He is a scholar and theologian with more than forty years of ministry experience, both in the United States and abroad. He is Professor Emeritus of New Testament Interpretation at Fuller Theological Seminary. His particular interest in the relationship between the visual arts and theology gave rise to the idea for the “God in the Modern Wing” series.

David McNutt serves as associate editor for IVP Academic and project editor for the Reformation Commentary on Scripture. He received his B.A. from Pepperdine University and subsequent degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and the University of Cambridge, England. His essays and reviews have appeared in the International Journal of Systematic Theology, Religion and the Arts, Christian Scholar’s Review, Books and Culture, and elsewhere.

Bruce Herman, painter and educator, is the founding chair of the Art Department at Godon College and holds the Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts. He completed both B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees at Boston University College of Fine Arts. His artwork is featured in collections around the world and has been published in several books, journals, and popular magazines.

Leah Samuelson received her B.A. in Drawing from Wheaton College and M.A. in Urban Studies from Eastern University. With a background as varied as high-end commercial mural painting to urban arts-based intervention and education, Samuelson now focuses on transformational pedagogy, socially engaged art curriculum development, and strategies of institutional collaboration through the arts.


John Sherer and the Andrew Pipe Organ

12:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary • Sundays, November 6–27 (4 weeks)

John Sherer will take us on a journey through the vast musical abilities of our new Edith G. and Edward J. Andrew Pipe Organ. Space permitting and as physical mobility allows, groups will gather in the Sanctuary choir loft and simultaneously in the pews downstairs to hear John both play and discuss our new instrument.

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


The Music of Advent with Carl Grapentine

12:15 p.m. in Borwell Dining Room • Sunday, December 11 (1 week)

This past spring, Carl Grapentine, from 98.7/WFMT and a longtime friend of Fourth Church, lead us in an exploration of the music of Lent. This December he returns to help us take a closer look at music for the Advent and Christmas seasons.

Carl Grapentine is the host of the Morning Program on WFMT/ 98.7 FM, Chicago’s Classical Fine Arts Station, weekdays from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m.
Carl first joined WFMT in 1986 after thirteen years as the morning host of the classical music station in Detroit. Carl presents pre-concert lectures for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Music of the Baroque, and several other groups. An alumnus of the University of Michigan School of Music, Carl has been the “stadium voice” of the University of Michigan Marching Band for forty-five seasons—his voice being heard on national telecasts of sixteen Rose Bowl games and numerous other bowl games. In 2006 he assumed additional duties as the game announcer at Michigan Stadium. An accomplished conductor and singer, Carl has twenty-five years of experience as a church music director. Currently he sings in the choir of Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest.

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 there will be no video stream on January 16 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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

Wednesday, January 4 | Karin Maag
   “500 Years Later: Why the Reformation Still Matters”

Thursday, January 5 | Matthew Desmond
   “Poverty and Profit in the American City”

Friday, January 6 | Mark Charles
   “Race, Trauma, and the Doctrine of Discovery”

Monday, January 9 | Reshma Saujani
   “Closing the Gender Gap in Technology”

Tuesday, January 10 | Abraham Nussbaum
   “Tinkering in Today’s Healthcare Factories: Pursuing the Renewal of Medicine”

Wednesday, January 11 | Gary Haugen
   “The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence”

Thursday, January 12 | Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray
    “I’ll Push You: A Story of Radical Friendship, Overcoming Challenges,
      and the Power of Community”

Friday, January 13 | Todd Huizinga
   “The EU and Global Governance”

Monday, January 16
   No video stream in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day 

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”

Back to top


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.

Race in a Post-Obama America: The Church Responds, David Maxwell, editor

This class has been postponed, please check back for future dates.

Previous books we discussed this fall: Waking up White: And Finding Myself in teh Story of Race by Debby Irving and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt.

Watch for information about our January–April 2017 books!



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

Back to top

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

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. 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.

Back to top