The Brent House Board consists of twelve members of the Anglican Communion from the Chicago area (most of whom are affiliated with the University of Chicago), two elected student representatives, the chaplain, and the bishops of the Diocese of Chicago. The board, officially known as the Episcopal Church Council at the University of Chicago, oversees the stewardship of Brent House’s ministry and resources. Terms generally last three years. Student representatives are elected in late spring to serve for the following academic year.
Class of 2011: Leslie Fenton Pera, Jett McAllister, Cathe McEnerney, Ben Varnum
Class of 2012: Ken Bigger, Judy Couvillion,
Class of 2013: Fern Turner, Ray Webster, Tom Patterson, Charles Taylor
Student Representatives (terms ending 2011): Nick Currie, Olivia Elliott
Ex Officio: The Rev. Stacy Alan, Chaplain; The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Lee, Bishop of Chicago; The Rt. Rev. Victor Scantlebury, Assistant Bishop
Ken Bigger is Brent House treasurer and chair of the board’s finance committee. Ken earned his PhD Religious Ethics in 2005 from the Divinity School, where his studies focused on religious communities and political ethics, particularly religiously based political dissent, civil disobedience, and the ethics of citizenship. His community life experience includes serving as administrator for Disciples Divinity House, a foundation for theological education affiliated with the Divinity School, and as a Resident Head in the College’s housing system. His development roles include work with the University’s Principal Gifts team and as Associate Secretary of the University, supporting the Board of Trustees and overseeing the University’s Visiting Committee Program. He has also worked for the consulting firm Grenzebach Glier and Associates. Ken lives in Hyde Park with his wife, Sara, and their two children. He is a parishioner at the Church of St. Paul and the Redeemer.
Judy Couvillion is in her second three-year term on the Brent House board. A lifelong Episcopalian, she has filled many roles within the church, including that of Sunday School teacher, altar guild member, Vacation Bible School teacher, choir member, cursillo staff member, etc., and her husband is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Chicago. She is excited about the continuing growth of Brent House’s ministry enabling students to develop their individual talents and supporting their spiritual searches. She works for a peer-to-peer networking organization, the International Legal Technology Association, organizing and scheduling local educational events (internationally) for IT professionals in the legal industry.
Laura Eberly is a fourth-year Public Policy major in the College and a first year master’s student at the School of Social Service Administration. She was a Brent House peer minister from 2007 until 2009 and now serves as a student representative to the Brent House board. Laura has participated in ministry and social justice efforts with the diocese and the national church, most recently attending a meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women as an Anglican Observer. Hailing originally from New Hampshire, Laura has lived in Chicago for four years and has been grateful to find a home away from home at Brent House and an extended family among the ministry’s thriving community.
Jett McAlister is a PhD student in the Department of English Language and Literature, writing a dissertation on contemporary poetry and the aesthetics of the sublime. He’s also a poet, and his work has appeared in several literary journals. Before coming to Chicago, he did graduate work in creative writing at the University of Virginia, and majored in English at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He has been active at Brent House since joining the Episcopal Church in 2006, and is also a parishioner and member of the vestry at the Church of the Ascension. He likes to procrastinate by running marathons, listening to opera, and exploring Anglo-Catholic arcana.
Cathe McEnerney is a native Virginian who has lived in the Chicagoland area for over 30 years. She and her husband Larry are currently enjoying life as Resident Masters at the University of Chicago’s new South Campus Residence Hall and when away from campus cherish time at their home in Georgia. Cathe has made a career of volunteerism, working in her children’s schools and activities, with the Embroiderers Guild of America and the American Needlepoint Guild, and with many organizations in the Diocese of Chicago. In addition to her work with Brent House she serves as chair of the Convention Planning Committee, as a member of the Bishop’s Associates, and on the Bishop Anderson House Board. Cathe is a dedicated stitcher and sometime designer who enjoys learning, creating, and sharing her passion for the needlearts and the church.
Benedict Varnum has been a member of the University of Chicago community and a resident of Hyde Park for eight years. He served as a seminarian intern with the Brent House chaplaincy in the 2008–2009 school year, and he is in discernment towards the priesthood out of St. Chrysostom’s Church in the Diocese of Chicago. Benedict is committed to the life of the communities of Brent House, and believes that this chaplaincy succeeds in allowing the spiritually curious to bring their questions to the door and find critical engagement, rather than a litmus test that fails to take into account the experiences and developmental questions of young adulthood. Benedict currently consults for the Diocesan Office of Youth/Young Adult Ministries, and begins a one-year chaplaincy term at Rush University Medical Center in September 2010. A 2006 graduate of the University of Chicago, he majored in Fundamentals, Issues, and Texts.
Anna Mary Wallace began her association with the University of Chicago in autumn 1950 with enrollment at the School of Social Service Administration, having arrived from New Hampshire via the College of Wooster in Ohio. The connection was strengthened with marriage to a faculty member, David, and a 26-year job at Student Resources and Counseling. The director of SCRS, Jack Kramer, encouraged attendance at St. Paul and the Redeemer, which resulted in the family’s joining the parish in the early 1970s. Dr. Kramer was also responsible for introducing her to the Bond Chapel services and the work of the Episcopal Church Council. Her current service on the Council is her third experience, one term having begun just as John Pyle left and the second occurring under Sam Portaro. She has greatly appreciated the opportunity for on-going contact with students through the Bond Chapel services and some of the Brent House offerings and is pleased at and excited by the vibrant tone of the current activities and gatherings.
The Rev. Raymond Webster has been Rector of St. Chrysostom’s Church, Chicago since 1993. A 1967 graduate of Princeton University, he was active in the Episcopal chaplaincy and the University chapel as an undergraduate. He graduated from the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was ordained in 1970, serving in parishes in Massachusetts and New York before coming to Chicago. He has been an elected member of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Chicago, Dean of the Chicago North Deanery, and a board member of Episcopal Charities and Community Services. He is a member of the Fellowship of St. John (formerly associates of the Society of St. John the Evangelist). He and his wife, Eve, have two grown children, and enjoy music, theater, and travel, and they are involved with the diocesan companion relationship with the Diocese of Southeast Mexico.
Mary Ruth Yoe is completing her fourth (non-consecutive) three-year term on the Brent House board. A lifelong Episcopalian and former Sunday School teacher, she has enjoyed watching Brent House’s ministry evolve in response to individual talents, needs, and eras, while still maintaining its core mission and values. Perhaps because of her day job as executive editor of the University of Chicago Magazine, she has particularly enjoyed the chance to serve as the board’s secretary.