The Eh-may-us House: Hub of student spirituality

Bree Adams – Features editor. The Emmaus House, located at the corner of Linfield and Melrose avenues, has been the center of Linfield’s religious community for more than two decades. Its new residents aim to continue this tradition.
The first two floors of the building serve as a meeting place for campus religious groups, such as Salt ’N Light and the Jewish Student Association. The ground floor often hosts game nights, small group meetings and coffee-house performances with live music by local artists.
The basement houses the Sacred Space, a small, plain room with comfortable chairs and plenty of open floor. A sign on the door asks people to remove their shoes before entering the room. This space is meant for prayer, meditation or intimate settings for smaller group meetings.
“I love the Sacred Space because it’s so quiet and still down there,” senior Ansley Clark said. “It feels like you’re not even on campus anymore. It’s great for finding some peace.”
The top floor serves as living quarters for Clark and seniors Heidi Vanden Bos and Becca Williams, all Emmaus residents and coordinators.
Vanden Bos said living in the E-House is unlike any other campus living experience.
“I had to go through an interview process,” Vanden Bos said. “I wanted to live here to be more involved in ministry. I thought it would be a great way to get freshmen involved and to meet new people.”
The Emmaus House, however, wasn’t always run as it is today.
The house was donated to Linfield in the 1980s because the college lacked a chapel. It was always intended as a meeting place for various religious groups but originally began as the Habitat for Humanity office. The house also held coffee-house performances every weekend.
Bill Apel, professor of religious studies and former chaplain, organized these events with the student chaplain interns.
The house then became the Chaplain’s Office for many years. During that time, the community interest in ministry activities continued to grow.
“The space has never been quite large enough for all the activities connected with the Chaplain’s Office,” Apel said.
The school later converted the office to a residence and moved the Chaplain’s Office to the Student Services offices in Melrose Hall.
That wasn’t the last of the changes.
“Originally, they had guys living in the house, but it didn’t work well,” Vanden Bos said. “They didn’t clean house well, which doesn’t work when you’re constantly hosting events.”
The main purpose of the house is hospitality, Vanden Bos said. It’s an environment that appealed to both her and Clark during their freshman year, and they wish to continue that culture.
“We are trying to really make the house a place welcoming to all of our very different friend groups, regardless of spiritual belief,” Clark said. “We want anyone to be able to feel at home if they come over.”
The house will host a board and card game night at 8 p.m. Sept. 18. To reserve a meeting space or for more information about the E-House, call 503-883-2235.