Agape House history
What is Agape’s history?
This ministry began in 1965, when the Rev. Dave McGown began the Protestant campus ministry on Navy Pier. Soon after, the University of Illinois opened its “Circle Campus” in the Harrison-Halsted area. We have worked cooperatively as the Protestant campus ministry center at Agape House, located at 1046 West Polk, with the Lutheran, Episcopal and United Methodist campus ministries from 1972 to the early 2000’s. UCM is now supported by the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, the Disciples of Christ, and the Church of the Brethren.
Following Rev. McGown’s retirement and a period of interims, the Rev. Dan Dale became campus minister in 1992 and provided leadership for the ministry for almost ten years until his resignation in 2002. The ministry has been known for its leadership in planning the Martin Luther King Day celebrations on campus, the CROP Walk in the fall, a chapter of Habitat for Humanity in cooperation with the Greek houses, brown bag luncheons and discussion for UIC faculty, numerous demonstrations on behalf of causes for peace and justice, a Soul Food Café on the sidewalk outside the House at 1046 W. Polk, and meeting space for UIC classes and seminars.
Following Rev. Dale’s retirement in 2002, the ministry was led by interim ministers while the board explored its future. Excited by the growth of UIC, especially with residence halls, the board declared its purpose to continue. In 2006, the Rev. Richard Williams was selected to serve as Campus Minister. The Polk Street building, in need of handicapped accessibility and many repairs, was sold in April 2007, and the ministry relocated to 809 West Roosevelt, at the intersection of Halsted and Roosevelt, above Barbara’s Bookstore.
In September 2007, the Rev. Lisl Heymans Paul was appointed by the United Methodist Church as the campus minister to UIC at Agape House. Richard and Lisl worked over the next year to facilitate the joining of the United Methodist Church in covenant partnership with Agape House in January of 2009.
In June, 2009, Richard and his wife Mamie took a call to become social justice missionaries in Colombia, South America. Lisl took over as the Director of Campus Ministry (PCUSA) and we were pleased to welcome Rev. Kurt Esslinger Lee as our new campus minister, primarily responsible for program ministry.
The ministry is accountable to its supporting denominations including the Presbyterian Church (USA), United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples), Church of the Brethren, and American Baptist Church.