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.


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Classes for Winter 2016

The Belhar Confession
Theology, Racism, and White Supremacy
The Music of Lent
Roots of American Racism
Christian Love, Christian Hate
Understanding White Privilege

The Belhar Confession

   —with Jeff Doane—
  
   Sundays, January 31–February 21
(4 weeks)
   9:30 a.m. in Borwell Dining Room
   Register online here

As the Academy for Faith and Life continues to push more deeply into our individual faith lives, our church, and our denomination’s beliefs and structures, please join Jeff Doane in an exploration of The Belhar Confession, the newest Presbyterian confession scheduled to be formally approved in June 2016 at the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Portland, Oregon.

This four-week discussion will begin with two contextual matters: our confessional heritage, which dates back to the Nicene and the Apostles’ Creeds, and then the period of apartheid in South Africa, out of which this confession emerged. We will then discuss the three themes of the Belhar Confession—unity, reconciliation, and justice—as well as how the Confession addresses our lives as individuals and as a church.

Jeffrey Doane is a part-time Fourth Church Parish Associate for Older Adults. A longtime friend of Fourth Church, Jeff was Pastor of Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church for twenty-seven years prior to his retirement.

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Theology, Racism, and White Supremacy

   —with Carolyn Roncolato—
  
   Sundays, January 31–February 14
(3 weeks)
   11:00 a.m. in Borwell Dining Room

   Register online here

After teaching “Thinking Theologically” this past fall, Carolyn Roncolato returns to the Academy for Faith and Life to help us push more deeply into our year-long theme of social justice in and through our own church’s theology and faith.

“Theology, Racism, and White Supremacy” is a three-week course that explores the roots of racism and its particular history in the United States. In particular, we will focus on the role that Christian theology has played in both perpetuating and resisting white supremacy. In this course, we will unpack the complexity of race in the U.S., will practice talking about and responding to racism, and will learn tools and tactics for anti-racist resistance.

Carolyn Roncolato
is a scholar, activist, and teacher. A feminist process theologian who works on the intersections of race, class, and gender, she has a Ph.D. in theology, ethics, and human culture from Chicago Theological Seminary. Prior to graduate school she worked in domestic and sexual violence response and prevention. She is also developing a method of feminist theology that is accountable to women in poverty, and she works on labor justice with the local hotel workers union.

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“What Language Shall I Borrow?”: The Music of Lent

   —with Carl Grapentine—
  
   Sunday, February 21
(1 day only)
   12:15–1:30 p.m. in Borwell Dining Room

   Register online here

Join WFMT’s Carl Grapentine for a program of music and commentary for the Lenten season. Come explore music for the season of repentance—from chant to Bach chorales, from hymns to spirituals.

Carl Grapentine is the host of the Morning Program on WFMT/ 98.7 FM, Chicago’s classical fine arts station, weekdays from 6:00 to10:00 a.m. He first joined WFMT in 1986 after thirteen years as the morning host of the classical music station in Detroit. Carl also presents pre-concert lectures for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Music of the Baroque, and several other groups. 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.

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Roots of American Racism

   —with Claudia Boatright—
  
   Sundays, February 28–March 20
(4 weeks)
   9:30 a.m. in Room 5B

   Register online here

As we as a congregation study and actively engage with the urgent crisis of mass incarceration in America—what author Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow—it is foundational for us to revisit the historical roots of racism, specifically racism as directed towards African Americans. It is this that Alexander and others argue undergirds the imprisonment of the black men and boys who make up the large majority of America’s prison population.

Racism in the United States is rooted in the more than 250-year history of African American slavery in North America, and only in the Americas was slavery, as practiced by white Europeans, based on skin color. Thus this four-part course will begin with an examination of the slave experience in Africa and traces the evolution of slavery in colonial North America, its institutionalization in the American Constitution, and the creation of a white supremacist caste system in the United States that survived the Civil War and emancipation of slaves and that endures to this day, especially as evidenced in the relationship of American blacks to the justice system.

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.

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Christian Love, Christian Hate

   —with Clare Rothschild, Jeff Stackert, and Curtis Evans—
  
   Sundays, February 28–March 20
(4 weeks)
   11:00 a.m. in Borwell Dining Room

   Register online here

Many Christians identify the Golden Rule or rule of reciprocity—“Love your neighbor as yourself” or “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31)—as their primary mandate. This class will explore its various Christian expressions in texts and contexts. We will begin by examining occurrences of the principle in Jewish biblical traditions. Next, we will pursue its occurrences in early Christian texts, including sayings attributed to Jesus, Paul, and James. Finally, we will address a variety of expressions of this principle in contemporary public dialogue, involving Christians from different social, political, and denominational settings.

One question to be found throughout the lectures will be why Christians so frequently engage in actions that contradict or ignore these highly valued texts and mandates. Do the biblical texts afford historical lessons on the devolution of love into hatred? Do they offer wisdom for correcting this reversal? What other resources might we bring to combat hatred in the context of divine mandates to love?

Clare Komoroske Rothschild is a professor in the department of theology at Lewis University. Her degrees include a Ph.D. in biblical studies from the University of Chicago and an M.T.S. in Theology from Harvard Divinity School.

Curtis Evans is Associate Professor of American Religions and the History of Christianity at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. His teaching interests include modern American religion, particularly since the Civil War, race and religion in U.S. history, and slavery and Christianity.

Jeffrey Stackert is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on the composition of the Pentateuch, ancient Near Eastern prophecy, cultic texts, and ancient Near Eastern law.

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Understanding White Privilege

   —with Rebecca Burwell—
  
   Sundays, February 28–March 13
(3 weeks)
   12:15 p.m. in Room 5F

   Register online here

This three-week discussion will focus on the concept of “privilege”—what it is, how it operates in the U.S. context, and how Christians can address its pernicious influence on our social institutions. A short reading each week will frame the discussions, and we will use media and other experiential activities to prompt conversation.

Though privilege takes many forms, we will focus on how racial privilege and ongoing practices of white supremacy exert subtle (and overt) power on U.S. culture.

Rebecca Burwell received her M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from Loyola University, Chicago. Issues of race, justice, and social policy have always been at the forefront of her professional and personal interests. She currently teaches at an experiential urban education program called Chicago Semester where she introduces undergraduate students to issues of race and inequality in the city and teaches classes on questions related to discerning one’s vocation.

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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
Mark Eldred, Worship Coordinator and Interim Director of Adult Education (312.573.3367)

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 (312.573.3367).

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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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