Mission Trips

Mission trips enable us, as representatives of Fourth Presbyterian Church, to live with and learn from our brothers and sisters from around the world, from Central America to Chicago’s South Side. We share their struggles with hunger and violence. We do what we can to help, but mostly we show that we care.

We also discover that when we break away from our routines, we see new connections and make lasting friendships with each other.

If you are unable to travel, you can still participate in global mission by attending special programs featuring our partners from around the world. Events are announced in the News@FourthChurch e-newsletter (request a subscription via news@fourthchurch.org) and the Sunday bulletin insert “News and Opportunities.”

Occasionally calls go out for items needed by our hosts, such as medications and church school supplies, which our travelers can take with them. We invite you to consider supporting this aspect of global mission.

The material things, though, are secondary. Invariably our hosts make one request we all can honor: “Pray for us.”

Mission Trips
Mission Team Expectations | Application Forms
| Read about the 2012 Urban Plunge trip

Mission Trips

Racial Reconciliation in the U.S.
May 2–9, 2015

Fourth Presbyterian Church plans to form a multiracial choir of members from Fourth Church and Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ (Trinity UCC) to offer music from the African American tradition and promote dialogue toward racial reconciliation.

The choir will visit and sing in Cincinnati, Ohio; Atlanta, Georgia; Memphis, Tennessee; and Ferguson, Missouri. Participants will travel by motorcoach and stay in motels. There will also be opportunity to visit museums and sites important to the underground railroad and civil rights movements.

Participants are expected to attend four weekly gatherings in Chicago, during which they will rehearse music, share in potluck meals, and build relationships. These gatherings will be on Saturdays, from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m., on

   March 14 (Trinity UCC)
   March 28 (Fourth Church)
   April 11 (Trinity UCC)
   April 25 (Fourth Church)

We will also read a common book in preparation for the trip.

Trip leaders
John Sherer, Organist and Director of Music at Fourth Church
Vicky Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission
Bryan Johnson, Executive Director of Sacred Music,
                           Trinity United Church of Christ

Stacey L. Edwards-Dunn, Deacon of Trinity United Church of Christ

Nature of trip
Building relationships; increasing understanding of racism; sharing music

The application period for this trip is now closed.

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Havana, Cuba
May 11–18, 2015

Fourth Presbyterian Church has had a sister relationship with the congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Havana for more than fourteen years. In 2015 we will gather with them to celebrate the new diplomatic relationship between the United States and Cuba.

Participants will

  • become familiar with the historical, political, economic, and cultural context for Christian witness in Cuba, including the impact of new diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba
  • be inspired by the resiliency of a church thriving amid scarcity and learn about particular ministries of First Church in Havana
  • share in a midweek worship service in a parishioner’s backyard singing Latin American hymns and songs

Sights to see may include the Ernest Hemingway Museum, a cigar factory, an art museum, and the beach. Overnight accommodations will be in the church dorm or in a low-cost hotel near the church in Havana.

Trip leaders
Roger Wilson, Fourth Church member
Shannon Kershner (for part of trip), Pastor

Nature of trip
Building relationships; cross-cultural learning; supporting ministry, celebrating diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba

The application period for this trip is now closed.

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Villages in Guatemala
July 12–19, 2015

This trip is hosted by Common Hope, which serves Guatemalans through programs in education, health care, and housing. Mission teams will work in small groups with Common Hope staff, who will provide language translation along with the trip leaders.

Participants may

  • visit families in a local community, help construct a simple home, or sort supplies in a warehouse
  • learn about the culture, history, economics, challenges, and gifts of Guatemalan people
  • be enriched by exploration of Antigua and the surrounding area.

Accommodations are comfortable dormitory-style facilities at Common Hope’s project site. Meals blend traditional Guatemalan cuisine and typical American fare.

Trip leaders
Tom Schemper, Director of the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being
Sue Schemper, Fourth Church member

Age range
Twelve years and up; those under eighteen must be accompanied by an adult

Estimated cost
$1,950 per person, includes air fare
(Some scholarships are available.)

The application period for this trip is now closed.

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February 20–26, 2016

Tanzania, home to 125 tribal groups such as the Masai and Swahili, is a country of spectacular beauty with many national wildlife parks and protected areas. Over the past ten years, its political stability and economy have grown, but the number of people living below the poverty line has increased due to rapid population growth.

Opportunity International has been working in Tanzania since 2007 to help economic growth reach more of its citizens through microfinance programs.

On this mission trip, participants will

  • meet with clients of Opportunity International in their homes or businesses to witness how they have been empowered through microfinance programs such as business loans, financial education, cell-phone banking, and money transfers
  • be inspired by how Opportunity International Trust and Savings Groups have helped lift people out of poverty
  • grow in understanding the educational, cultural, and political context of Tanzania

Participants will stay in comfortable hotels with meals at quality restaurants. The optional safari on the last part of the trip offers opportunity to view wildlife in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park.

Trip leader
Linda VanderWeele, Director of Philanthropy with Opportunity International
and Fourth Church member

Nature of trip
Seeing the impact of microfinance and community; cross-cultural learning; partnership in ministry

Age range
Eighteen years and up

Estimated cost (excludes air fare)
Seven-day insight trip (includes safari excursion): $4,327
Four-day insight trip (without safari excursion): $2,527

Application details to come

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Mission Team Expectations

God calls us to receive and share the love of Jesus Christ, a love that crosses all cultural, geographic, economic, and generational boundaries. Mission trips provide opportunities for serving, learning, advocacy, peacemaking, spiritual inspiration, and building relationships and cross-cultural awareness.

As we interact with brothers and sisters from around the world, we honor their dignity and show respect through mutuality, learning and receiving from them while giving support in solidarity. It is essential for us to follow their lead and wisdom on addressing the quality of life and witness of faith in their context.
Mission trip participants are asked to bring an open and humble mind of a beginner. 

  • Reflective worship is an important part of every trip.  
  • Mission trips start well before the date of departure and extend beyond our return home. All participants are expected to participate in orientations, trip-related activities, and debriefing and post-trip activities. Articles or books may be recommended reading.
  • Mission team members need to be flexible, cooperative, and positive, supporting the team leaders and our hosts as they need to adapt to unexpected circumstances and changes in plans. 
  • Accommodations are purposely modest to lower the cost of the trip and to benefit from the hospitality of our hosts. 
  • Estimated costs include airfare, most meals, lodging, ground transportation, and in some cases a contribution toward the project or people served. Actual costs may vary depending on changes in airfare and the number of participants who register.
  • Each team member must pay a 50% deposit of fees by the stated deadline, $100 of which is nonrefundable. Limited scholarships may be available upon request.
  • Unless stated otherwise, persons of all ages and abilities are welcome to apply.
  • For international trips, you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond your return date. A copy of the first two pages of the passport must be submitted with trip applications.

For more information, please contact Vicky Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission, at 312.981.3598.

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Application Forms

An online application form is available here (and a PDF of the application form to download is available here) for all trips except Tanzania. To apply for the Tanzania trip online, please go to www.opportunity.org/insight

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For More Information

Contact Vicky Curtiss
Associate Pastor for Mission, Fourth Presbyterian Church

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