01:35 // Rich welcomes Brennen to the show.
00:53 // Brennen talks about the JustUs Youth.
02:22 // Brennen explains what Human Relations Day is in the life of The United Methodist Church.
03:22 // Brennen talks about the impact Human Relations Day has had on him personally.
04:40 // Brennen tells us what he is studying.
05:00 // Brennen talks about how the Youth Empowerment Production Program led to his career choice.
07:30 // Brennen talks about what initially attracted him to The United Methodist Church.
09:35 // Brennen talks about his first sermon and advises church leaders, “Don’t miss an opportunity to change someone’s life.”
12:31 // Brennen shares contact details of JustUs Youth.
13:08 // Rich thanks Brennen for being on the show.
Rich – Well welcome to the Human Relations Day podcast. My name’s Rich, the host around these parts, I’m so glad that you’ve decided to spend some time with us as we count down to this important day in the life of our church. I’m super excited today to have Brennen Boose with us, a great guy; it’s going to be a fantastic interview. He’s with JustUs Youth, I’m so excited to have you Brennen, thanks for being here today.
Brennen – Thank you for having me.
Rich – Well tell us about JustUs. Tell us about what’s happening.
Brennen – JustUs Youth is the youth component of the Community Developers Program, which is under GBGM and is funded by Human Relations Day. It’s hard to describe honestly, it’s a conglomerate of youth from across the United States that just come together. We learn advocacy, we did a college residence training, we were trained to be trainers. So we did actually youth training, we went to Puerto Rico and did some youth training, did some at Shalom Summit.
It’s an amazing program. We’ve been afforded a lot of opportunities to go – certain groups of us, we went to South Africa, we went to Africa University and have just expanded, I guess, the reach of the Community Developers Program, to reaching youth and young adults.
We also work in our local communities, and the focus was coming together and then being trained and taking that training and taking it back to your local community and causing change there.
Rich – Very cool. Well why don’t we, for people that don’t know, what is Human Relations Day, what is that day in the life of our church?
Brennen – Human Relations Day is the most special, Special Sunday.
Rich – Special of all specials.
Brennen – Yes the most special, Special Sunday. It’s special to me at least. It’s a day when across The United Methodist Church, churches give a special offering to programs and organizations that, I believe there are six of them, I can’t name them all though. I would try but probably fail, but Human Relations Day, as far as the calendar, usually falls around Martin Luther King’s birthday, but churches aren’t limited to just that Sunday, they can celebrate it any Sunday and still give that special offering. So yes, it’s a special, special day.
Rich – So how has the organization, Just Us Youth, how has it been impacted or supported, fueled by Human Relations Day? How has it been made better by that?
Brennen – Well the easy answer would be financially, that would be the easy answer. I believe it’s much more than that. Yes, the finances do make everything work and even in our promotion of Human Relations Day, we learn so much, as far as promotion and marketing and communication and communicating what JustUs Youth actually does.
Currently right now, of the first group that came through, I believe we have six college graduates, and I believe two of us are in massive programs right now.
Human Relations Day, it’s expanded even my own personal faith and belief in Christ and belief in myself and belief in my own abilities. Human Relations Day has afforded me those opportunities to really be exposed to what I’m capable of. I’m not fully exposed to everything I can do yet, but the more I learn the more I’m just like, let’s work.
Rich – What are you studying right now?
Brennen – Right now, actually I’m a communications and marketing major. Just starting double majoring this semester.
Rich – Great, double major because you just want to take twice as much work, that’s cool. Now are you United Methodist background, has that been your church background?
Brennen – Actually no. I’ve actually only been Methodist for a year now.
Rich – Okay nice.
Brennen – But back home in Rochester, New York, I became affiliated with The United Methodist Church through the CDP program that was a Youth Empowerment Production program in Grace United Methodist Church in Rochester. At the time, I was 14 and I had kind of got thrust into doing the sound ministry at my church. It was like, “Here take this, use that, make that happen, make this great.”
I took the time to kind of teach myself some things about sound ministry and how sound works and everything like that. Then I was like, a lot of this stuff I just don’t understand, I just bluffed it, I just couldn’t compute it in my head. So I was looking for a program or something where I could learn, even at 14. I actually saw the flyer somewhere and I said, “Oh, look at this. This would actually work, this would be great.”
So when I called, applied, got into the program and that was my first kind of experience with the CDP Program, Human Relations Day, all of that was that program, the Youth Empowerment Production program. It actually has kind of led me to my career choice now.
Rich – Very cool.
Brennen – We did video productions. We videotaped some concerts and went back and edited it. We did some commercials for Buffalo, there’s a big kind of Buffalo Wing Conference, in Buffalo, New York.
Rich – Really?
Brennen – Yeah, we did some commercials for that. So gaining that exposure really exposed me to something that I found that I loved to do. Even right now, I would show you, but I’ve got a whole lighting setup, it would be nice to just show you what I learned.
Rich – Very cool, very cool. So now what would you say, when you think about The United Methodist Church, what was it about either that particular church, or kind of where you are now, that attracted you that was like, “Hey that’s the kind of place I want to be a part of.”
Brennen – I’ll do it in two parts. One, that particular church, the pastor, Pastor George Nicholas, he’s actually at Lincoln United Methodist Church in Buffalo now, but he was a great guy and is still a great guy. I talk to him, every time I see him now I just thank him for giving me the opportunity because the one thing that could have been a hindrance, he didn’t allow it to be, because I wasn’t United Methodist, I was non-denominational. He could have not afforded me the opportunities to be a part of that program and also the JustUs Youth program through that program. He allowed me to do it, and I’m forever appreciative of that. That was kind of what drew me to that church specifically and that program.
As far as The United Methodist Church as a whole, it’s been the opportunities that I’ve been afforded from JustUs Youth, just to see the wide reach of the church and how great of an effect the church has on local communities, national and even international. It’s an amazing church that does a lot of great work, and I just wanted to be a part of that.
Rich – Yeah absolutely. One of the great things about these special days is it gives us an opportunity to connect beyond just our own local congregation and really the things, like you say, not only nationally but internationally and Human Relations Day is obviously an example of that, because it gives our church a reach, it gives an opportunity to be a part of something pretty special.
What would you say to a church, maybe there’s a leader listening in right now, that’s like, “I’m not too sure about this whole it’s another special day, how many of these are there? I’m not interested in being a part of that,” what would you say to a leader that’s maybe hesitant today about this?
Brennen – I’d say don’t give up on the opportunity, that’s one of the things I’ve learnt through the JustUs Youth program, it’s take advantage of every opportunity you have to change someone’s life. I can honestly say my life has truly been changed through the JustUs Youth program. I actually, a funny story, I preached my first sermon.
Rich – Ah nice, very cool.
Brennen – We were going in a part of Black Methodist for Church Renewal’s Youth Harambee event, and I think it was 2006 and it was in Little Rock Arkansas on Philander Smith’s campus. At the time, I was a real shy kid.
Rich – It’s hard to believe, you don’t seem shy.
Brennen – I was like, talking in front of people just wasn’t my thing, but I was asked to be the MC of a worship service and I had a moment where kind of my mouth said yes before my mind really got a chance to think about it.
So going through the service, it was a wonderful service, and it came to a point where it was honestly just a high time in the spirit and the music was playing and I was standing at the podium but I was like back against the wall. The minister of music Danita Waller Paige just came over to me and she tap me on the shoulder and said, “God’s telling you to say something, go and say it.”
Rich – Very cool.
Brennen – There’s a video of it and it still gives me chills to this day.
Rich – Right, right absolutely.
Brennen – Because it was honestly like, it was just like God’s word and the word that he had placed in me just coming out impromptu. There were no notes, no preparation, I didn’t have a Bible anywhere around me, it was just coming out of me. It was a life changing experience for me, it was out of body, like I was sitting and listening to myself like, “What are you talking about?” But at the same time I was still in the moment and understanding just how God was moving through me and if for nothing else, if I had to say anything to a leader, don’t miss the opportunity to change someone’s life.
Rich – Very cool. Well I really appreciate this, it’s been great, getting to know you a little bit better, an insight into Brennen, and I really appreciate you being on the show today. If they want to get in touch with Just Us, how can they do that, like website stuff that kind of thing, before we sign off?
Brennen – Right now, we are actually working on that, we’re working on getting all of that together. I’m actually the head of that, so we’re putting all of that together and getting the CDP stuff together. Right now you can find us on GBGM’s website, I believe it’s umcmission.org and if you search Community Developers program, you’ll be able to find us on there. Also on Facebook, we’re on Facebook, Community Developers and you’ll find us just underneath their Facebook page. There’ll be a lot more information coming out.
Rich – Perfect, well I really appreciate that, thank you for taking time out from your day to do this.
Brennen – Man I enjoyed it.
Rich – Thanks so much.