Brent House

The Episcopal Campus Ministry at the University of Chicago

5540 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 947-8744

The Rev. Stacy Alan, chaplain

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Brent House is building a new website this summer. In the mean time, you can find the old site at and read our annual State of the Chaplaincy update below.

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State of the Chaplaincy 2020: Coming home, finding home

An update for alumni, friends, and supporters of Brent House

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A Note from the Chaplain

Photo of Brent House

A year ago, no one saw this coming. A year ago, I was excited about the 2019–2020 academic year, with new leaders bringing their energy and wisdom, wondering who our new students would be and what gifts they would bring, encouraged and a little daunted by the initial steps of our capital campaign (more on that elsewhere in this newsletter). The fall began well, with new students getting involved, and old timers welcoming them. Winter quarter seemed normal enough: student leadership stepped up in wonderful ways while I spent a couple of weeks in Jerusalem visiting a dear friend. Literally as I was preparing to fly back to the States, we were reading reports of a new virus, reports that raised the question of whether there might be issues with international travel. Within a week of my return, the University sent its first email about the virus, directing anyone who had recently traveled from mainland China “not to attend school or work for 14 days.” (The words self-isolate or quarantine weren’t being used yet.)

Early February seems so very long ago. Within weeks everything was turned upside down, our lives were confined within the walls of our homes and the screens of our devices, and so much of what we had taken for granted was called into question. When the University of Chicago moved to remote learning and students were informed that the residence halls would close at the end of Winter Quarter, Brent House reached out to the community and offered what support we could, but I found myself profoundly disoriented. So many of the hallmarks of our ministry, so many of the powerful rituals and acts of the Church, so many (all, it seemed) of the simple human gestures that bind us together and allow us to connect with each other became unavailable to us: no offers of tea to make space for a vulnerable conversation, no shared meals to fill a hungry stomach and warm a chilled heart, no hugs of joy or comfort, no laying on of hands with prayer, no sharing of Jesus present to us in bread and wine.

Brent House folks dressed in hats and winter coats  (but no masks—this was before the pandemic) offer prayers and support at a protest. In the middle of the group, someone holds a sign that says “JUSTICE” in big, black letters.

And then, in May, the murder of George Floyd brought (yet again) to light the systemic sin of racism in our country. With students scattered literally across the globe, it was difficult to discern how best to respond. Tensions rose in Chicago, including Hyde Park, as hundreds of people marched—or drove—in support of Black lives.

Through all of this we continued to meet. As you’ll see below, Brent House found creative ways to offer both regular, weekly programming as well as several special events. New ties are being formed as students, alums, and friends have been able to gather online in ways that would have been impossible, or at least unlikely, before. The new default of online gatherings helped make two new experiments much richer than would have ben possible otherwise. All of these programs were well-received and we expect to offer followup events in the near future.

In this disconcerting jumble of disorientation, uncertainty, anxiety, rage, surprise, delight, comfort, and unexpected assurance, Brent House, even without gathering in person, continues to be a place of community, prayer, and support for our communities. We are now looking toward the fall and preparing to offer, both in-person or online, a space that is, as our tagline reads, “welcoming, inclusive, and unafraid.” We will find new ways to pray together and dive deep into discernment that build sustainable spiritual grounding for the work ahead. We will continue to reflect on how better to be an antiracist community and how to form young adults ready to do the long, hard work of dismantling racist systems with wisdom, grace, and humility.


We simply cannot do this work without your financial support. In the midst of so much uncertainty, your generosity allows us to continue to provide the mainstays of our ministry and to offer the creative, intellectually and spiritually engaging programming that have made us a national model for campus ministry. Please give what you can. It makes a world of difference.

In gratitude,


Brent House during the Pandemic

The altar in Brent House’s chapel.

Like the rest of the world, Brent House has been adjusting to life during the pandemic. In typical fashion, our community has found ways to stay connected, across long distances and time zones, and to deepen the community, with alums and other friends of Brent House joining us for worship and events.

Here are some highlights:

  • We found creative ways to mark the solemnities of Holy Week and Easter, and to pray for our communities.
  • Weekly online worship and formation: Sunday Evening Prayer, Bible study, chanted Compline *All are welcome to join us for Evening Prayer and Compline. More information on our Facebook page.
  • Chaplaincy in Times of Pandemic: a conversation between the Rev. Dr. Sam Portaro and the Rev. Stacy Alan (Watch the recording!)
  • Brent House alumni conversations, “Spirituality in Quarantine,” led by alumni and students
  • Roundtable on Science, Philosophy, and Religion: a conversation with faculty and religious leaders from two dozen institutions around the U.S.

Next year will include programming on discernment and sustainable spiritual practices, an exploration of evangelism informed by monastic practices, more alumni conversations, and further development of the Roundtable series.

We depend on the support of our alums and friends to do this work. Your gifts allow us to continue to offer support and programming that has an effect far beyond the streets of Hyde Park. Thank you.


Graduate Reflections

Since we were not able to celebrate our graduates as fully as usual, this year we have asked two of our graduates to share their experiences as members of the Brent House community:

Ruby Ross (College, 2020)

Photo of Ruby

I first came to Brent House in spring of my second year of college. I had come to UChicago excited about finding a Christian community. I joined multiple Bible studies, regularly attended a Baptist church downtown, volunteered at a high school chapter of Young Life, and even started my own Bible study for non-Christians.

Unfortunately, during my second year, my happy Christian bubble started to deflate. Part of this was due to the enormous responsibility that I had as a leader in these groups. I was also troubled by certain legalistic doctrines that the group held. I finally took a step back from most of my Christian leadership roles after an unpleasant interaction with a member of my Bible study. For the first time in my life, I stopped going to church because I was so afraid of being judged for my spiritual doubts, and the messaging of my church just didn’t ring true anymore.

After several months of wandering, I found myself at Brent House. My best friend, who is not Christian, but had enjoyed going to the service, invited me. Brent House turned things around for me. I was shocked (and really, really thrilled) to find a Christian community that affirmed same-gender marriage and the ordination of women and LGBTQ clergy. I felt so comfortable to be in a space that allowed doubts, and that welcomed people of different religious backgrounds. I always felt like Jesus would want anyone to feel welcome in his church, to come as they are. Brent House has been the first church I have encountered that has provided that kind of space.

I so badly wanted to keep Jesus in my life despite my struggles with the church and certain Christian teachings that I grew up with, and Stacy and my peers at Brent House gave me permission to do that. I can invite my LGBTQ friends to the table, and not feel worried that people are secretly thinking they’re living in habitual sin. I can invite my lovely, non-Christian boyfriend to church, and know he feels comfortable and welcomed. Brent House also has a spirit of Christ-like humility that so many churches fail to emulate. People do not judge you on appearances, or have any sort of expectations of who you should be. As a result, we have a diverse group of people with different backgrounds, interests, and beliefs, where the only non-negotiable is love and respect, as I think Jesus would want.

I am very grateful for my time at Brent House. It is difficult to put into words how much it has impacted me. I will really miss Stacy and her patient heart, intellectual mind, and her dedicated leadership. I will really miss my Brent House family. I know Brent House will continue to bless UChicago as it blessed me.

Ruby begins medical school at NYU this fall.


Tim Clark (PhD, Classics, 2020)

Photo of Tim

My time at Brent House these past six years has been nothing less than transformative. I have been an Episcopalian my whole life and been blessed with wonderful, supportive churches that I went to with my parents. But since going off to college, I never found a true spiritual “home.” Brent House has provided that home.

As I finish the sixth and final year of doctorate in Classics at UChicago, there are many aspects of my time at Brent House that I will treasure. The house provided small comforts, like always being a loving place where I could spend time, get a hot meal, and recharge my batteries. A classics doctorate can be an extremely lonely time and it was incredibly important for me to be able to unwind with fellow students every Wednesday and Sunday. These conversations spawned many great conversations and friendships.

But beyond socialization, Brent House has provided a space in which I could question and develop my own relationship with God. As a person of faith in academia, I am particularly sensitive to the need to use one’s spiritual and intellectual brains in tandem. Brent House gave me the tools to build those connections. With Stacy and a few other graduate students, I spent my third year engaged in Ignatian spiritual self-examination, asking God for guidance about why He had set me on the path to come to UChicago and study Greek and Roman history. I never got any firm answer to that question—except for God assuring me that I was where I belonged. But the process of investigating it forced me to critically evaluate my prayer life and how I was using it to further my relationship to God. The Examen, a prayerful reflection on one’s day, is a tool I come back to again and again. Brentsday, our weekly Wednesday programming, was another venue for amazing conversations with Catholics and Lutherans about Lenten practices, examining the St. John’s Bible, and the like.

Through all these experiences, Brent House has helped me to deepen my relationship with God. Aside from the Classics department, it is by far the most important community that I was a part of during my time here. I will be forever grateful for the community that Stacy has created here, the friendships I formed, and the growth those have engendered in me as a scholar and Christian.

Tim is also a member of the Brent House board and will be a postdoc here at UChicago this coming academic year.


Introducing Kim Lewis, Our New Intern

Photo of Kim Lewis

Brent House is excited to welcome a seminary intern this year! Kim Lewis is pursuing her Master of Divinity at McCormick Theological Seminary. She received her M.A. from DePaul University with a focus on nonprofits to help youth in underserved areas. Her grandfather was one of the original plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education (from Briggs v. Elliott), whose legacy has tapped at her conscious throughout her life, reminding her to help others.

While enrolled at DePaul, she founded Jacquelyn of All Trades, NFP in March 2014, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping young women through mentoring, educational support, and care. She has also served on eleven ministries, committees, and boards throughout her life including South Suburban Special Recreation Association (supporting teens/young adults with physical and mental disabilities), Covenant United Church of Christ (CUCC) New Members Committee, CUCC Youth Ministries (lay support), Public Education Reform Ministry (P.E.R.M.), and the University Church/United Church of Christ Illinois Conference Angola Partnership.


Belovedness: Finding God (and Self) on Campus

Cover of the book “Belovedness: Finding God (and Self) on Campus”

This wonderful new book written specifically for young adults in college includes a chapter on discernment (“Making Good Choices”) written by Stacy. Order it from your local bookstore (or the Seminary Co-op) today!


Update on our Capital Campaign

“The Campaign for Brent House” logo

The world has turned upside down, but we are still moving ahead! This past fall and winter we hosted seven cottage meetings in Chicago, Seattle, and New York City, as well as gathering feedback online. As you might imagine, the pandemic has slowed things down, but the silver lining is that it has felt quite natural to connect online with our global community. Keep an eye out for more updates in future emails and mailings, and don’t hesitate to be in touch with any questions or for more information.

If you haven’t seen our videos and given us your feedback, please go to and watch the videos on the main page and under the tab that reads “The Need.” (And yes, that is Brent House alum Ray Suarez narrating the main video. We are so grateful for his help!) Then click on “Feedback” to share your stories.


Donations through June 30, 2020

We are grateful for the support of our friends for their gifts of money, talent, time, prayer and encouragement. Without you, our work would not be possible. Thank you!

The Edna Billar Society: $1,000+
John and Norma Bramsen
Episcopal Church Women
Richard and Marilyn Harvey
Ke Chiang and Shigeko Hsieh
Susanne and Jim Lenz
James Nako
Katy Peaslee
Sam Portaro and Christopher Dionesotes
Church of St. Paul and the Redeemer
Mark Sands
Susquehanna International Group
Ron and Linda Thisted
Anna Mary Wallace

The Canon Bell Society: $500–999
Douglas Q. Adams
Franklin Alan and Donna Eide
Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger
Luke Bretscher
Brotherhood of St. Andrew—Chicago Assembly
Bill Cosper
Easton Sutter Household
Sylvia Helm
Charles Hopkins
John Hopper
Kevin Kamraczewski
JT Kittredge and Charles Morehead
The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Lee
June Mire
Emily Nicklin
Patrick Palmer
Tom and Nancy Patterson
Kyle Rader and Verena Meyer
Elizabeth Vann

The Brent House Society: $250–499
Stacy Alan and John Poole
Jake and Katy Fallon Bitner
Eric K. Clemons
Elinor Crocker
Meghan Duke
Nancy and Robert Felix
Mary Hope Griffin and Clayton Thomason
Andrew Guffey
Greg and Brenda Hough
Charles Krance and Florine Bruneau
Michael Leppen
Carol Meyer and Bob Smither
Karen Milton and Michael Meigs
Sara Raftery
St. Mark’s, Barrington Hills
Linda Wheatley-Irving

The Canterbury Society: $100–249
Anna Akers-Pecht
Amy and Shane Autra
Joyce Beaulieu
Gretel Braidwood and Raymond Tindel
William Brewster
Mark Brooker and Tamara Miller
Bernard and Carol Jean Brown
Church of the Holy Spirit, Lake Forest
Jack Clark and Andrew Goldhor
Serena Cosgrove and Marty Bosworth
Christina Coughlin
L. William Countryman
The Culver Family
Barbara Flynn Currie
Richard Daspit and Cecilia Mitchell
Mary-Helen Deck
Diane Falk
David Follmer
Darryl Ford and Gail Sullivan-Ford
Grace Episcopal Church
David and Barbara Heywood
Janet Johnson and Donald Whitcomb
Gabriel Kalcheim
Danette Kauffman
Enid Kivuti
Margaret Lewis
Betty and Stephen Lloyd
Peggy Mason
Elizabeth McCreless
Elinore McLain
Joseph Merlino
Sandra and John Mulholland
Margaret Pines Porto
Helen Probst Mills
Benjamin and Maruta Ray
Carl Anthony Reed
Donna Reynolds
Christiane and Earl Ronneberg
William and Frances Rounds
St. Ann's Episcopal Church, Woodstock
Jasmine Saulsberry
Maria Scott
Newland F. Smith
Alan and Nancy Spencer Rushton
Sara and John Henry Steelman
J. Allyson and Carol Simpson Stern
Don and Margaret Swanton
Zachary Taylor
Juli Wilson-Black

Friends: $1–99
David B.J. Adams
Phil and LaVera Ayers
Marion and Jonathan Baumgarten
William J. and Marilyn Bauriedel
Daniel Bertsche
Barbara Bowers
Margaret Moon Chambers
Tim Clark
Nancy Congdon
Robert and Elizabeth Crowe
Sara Cushing
Teresa Mithin Danieley
Thomas Ewing
Rosemary Gooden
Heidi Haverkamp and Adam Freiberg
Linda and John Hillman
Robert and Mary Hopkins
Mary Beth Hwang
Henry Idema
Andrew Jay Johnson
Julia Jennings
Hannah Kenagy
Norma Loo Leben
Sarah Lincoln
Elizabeth Maxwell
D. Barry Menuez
Messiah–St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church
Kathleen Mills
Margaret Mitchell
Eleta J. Murray
Jane Ford Oliver
Emily Pera
Caroline Perry and Luke Stetson
Dan and Cathy Portaro
Neil Raman and Elizabeth Gassler
Bill Roberts
Andrew Rostan
Anna Schleusener and Vikram Iyer
Kenneth Shelton
Roberta and William Siegfriedt
Lester B. Singleton
David Stanford
Grace Stover
Andrew Suitter
Russell and Marlene Tuttle
Grant D Venerable
Sophia Walker
James Weigle
Sarah and Josh Welch-Larson
Lavane Williams
Ellen Wondra
Robert Wyatt

A special thank-you to Nina Deremer and NeonOne, who have donated our donor database service.

Please let us know of any errors or omissions.