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.

Reading Romans with Karl Barth
PCUSA World Mission Series
Early Christian Worship
Hospitality—the Sacred Art
The Righteous Mind
Theology of Culture

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Reading Romans with Karl Barth during Lent
      with Robert Cathey

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

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. 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.

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PC(USA) World Mission Series

Sundays, March 5–19 (3 weeks)
11:00 a.m. in Borwell Dining Room
Please note that the March 19 class will meet at 12:15 p.m. in Room 4G.

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. Come and be inspired by our teachers!

  • March 5: Sara Lisherness, Director of Compassion, Peace and Justice
  • March 12: Rachel Yates,  Associate Director of World Mission
  • March 19: Please note that the class will meet at 12:30 p.m. this day
    Tony DeLaRosa, Interim Executive Director of Presbyterian Mission Agency (who will also preach at the 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. services)

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Early Christian Worship
      with Carol Korak

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

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.

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Hospitality—the Sacred Art
      with Nanette Sawyer

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

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.

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The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt
      with Nanette Sawyer

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

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.

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

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

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 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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