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

January 18–25, 2016

Come work with residents of a Mexican village as we together build concrete cisterns to capture clean rainwater from metal rooftops of houses. These cisterns will provide drinkable water, which is otherwise lacking in the village of Xpujil (pronounced shpoo-HEEL), where the indigenous Ch’ol people live surrounded by Mayan ruins.
Our host, Todd Luke, serves as a lay missionary in this community and works through the Campechano Presbytery of Mexico and the Outreach Foundation of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

On this trip, participants will

  • work alongside residents building rain cisterns
  • learn about projects that involve agriculture and beekeeping
  • worship with a local congregation
  • see Mayan ruins and enjoy a weekend at Playa del Carmen

Participants will stay in shared bedrooms in a volunteer house.

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

Sue Schemper, spiritual director and Fourth Church member

Nature of trip
Cross-cultural learning; working alongside the local community; building relationships

Age range
All ages; those under eighteen must be accompanied by an adult

Estimated cost (includes air fare and a gift toward the project)
$1,950 per person

Applications due
Participants may register online here through November 16, 2015. A $975 deposit is required at the time of registration.

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Uganda and Tanzania
February 20–27, 2016

Join Opportunity International (OI) in learning about the impact of their microfinance programs in Tanzania and Uganda. Established to fulfill Jesus Christ’s call to love and serve the poor throughout the world, OI’s work in these countries has helped economic growth reach more people and empowered educators to reach more children by giving loans and building schools.

On this insight trip, participants will

  • meet with clients of Opportunity International in their homes or businesses to witness how they have been empowered through educational and agricultural programs
  • be inspired by how Opportunity International Trust Groups have helped lift people out of poverty
  • grow in understanding the educational, cultural, and political context of Tanzania and Uganda

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 in communities; cross-cultural learning; partnership in ministry

Age range
Eighteen years and up

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

Participants may register online at Opportunity International through December 15, 2015. Full payment is required at the time of registration.

For more information, please contact Linda VanderWeele.

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Havana, Cuba
April 16–23, 2016

Fourth Presbyterian Church has had a sister relationship with First Presbyterian Church of Havana for more than fifteen years. This trip reinforces that relationship as we live into our shared faith.

On this trip, participants will

  • become familiar with the historical, political, economic, and cultural context for Christian witness in 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 may include the Ernest Hemingway Museum, a cigar factory, the United States embassy, an art musum, and the beach. Overnight accommodations will be in the church dorm or in a modest hotel near the church.

Trip leaders
Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

Carol Lobbes, Fourth Church member

Nature of trip
Building relationships; cross-cultural learning; supporting ministry

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

Estimated cost (includes air fare)
$2,300 per person
(Some scholarships are available.)

Participants may register online here until December 20, 2015. A $1,150 deposit is required at the time of registration.

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Northern Ireland
July 9–17, 2016

This trip provides opportunity to learn from encounters with both historic and contemporary expressions of Christian witness in Northern Ireland and to gain resources for dealing with societal division and conflict.

On this trip, participants will:

  • visit key places of Christian witness in the Celtic church and explore their legacies and learn about Celtic spirituality and how it is lived out by Christians in Ireland today
  • explore the impact of Ireland’s religious, political, and ethnic conflict as a way to understand conflict in other settings
  • reflect on the gospel imperative to work for peace and reconciliation, how it is being pursued in Northern Ireland, and opportunities and challenges for peacebuilding in their own settings
  • deepen their understanding and support of the wider mission of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

The group will visit Dublin, Belfast, Newgrange, Corrymeela, Derry, Omagh, and the Giant’s Causeway. Hosts will include Doug Baker of the PC(USA) staff; Bill Shaw, Director of 174 Trust; Grace Clunie, Director of the Center for Celtic Spirituality; and Jon McCourt, former IRA combatant and peace and civil rights activist. 

Overnight accommodations will be in group hostels and bed-and-breakfast locations. 

Trip leaders
Hardy Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism

Layton Williams, Pastoral Resident

Nature of trip
Spiritual development; cross-cultural learning; peacebuilding; supporting ministry

Age range
Young adults, aged 22–40

Estimated cost (includes air fare)
$2,500 per person
(Some scholarships are available.)

Participants will be asked to help with fundraisers to underwrite the total cost of the trip.

Participants may register online here until January 15, 2016. A $1,000 deposit is required at the time of registration.

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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

Please see the individual trip descriptions for online registration links.

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For More Information

Contact Vicky Curtiss
Associate Pastor for Mission, Fourth Presbyterian Church

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