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7 Questions for Thursday: Breanna Illene

Rev. Breanna Illene is pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church on the near west side in  Madison and is the assisting pastor for young adult ministries at First United Methodist Church downtown in Madison. 

What does Jesus mean for you?
Jesus was the ultimate example of love in our world. He was willing to make people angry, break the rules, and put himself on the line, all in the service of pushing the world to be more loving. I try each day to follow Jesus’ model and hope that I can be an example of his love in the world.

Name your favorite three Christian music artists?
I have a very eclectic taste in music. Some days I will turn on old hymns, classics by Charles Wesley (I’ve got to be a good Methodist J ) or other hymns my grandparents grew up singing. Other days I love listening to the more contemporary All Sons & Daughters or Gungor. I also listen to a fair amount of secular music. I recently showed the video and preached on the song “Praying” by Ke$ha.

What is the church body doing well and what could we improve on?
The church is filled with incredibly faithful people and a deep sense of history. We have a tradition that is thousands of years old and there is such depth and power in this tradition when we live in a world that seems to be constantly shifting and changing and following the latest fad.

Our churches are filled with faithful people who have been serving Jesus their whole lives. Many of our churches spend thousands of hours a year feeding the hungry, fighting for justice, and serving our community in a variety of ways. I think that sometimes we are a little too quiet about the work we are doing. It’s ok that we aren’t out to seek recognition, but I think we could be better about letting people know the power of the church. Sometimes we show up in public places and we are there but we aren’t visible the church. We need to make sure not to hide our lights under a bushel and be proud of the work we are doing.

What scripture really defines where you are today in life and why?
Lately I’ve been thinking about Proverbs 3:5, “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” I am trying to be better about listening to God following where I am being led. I can be a bit of a know-it-all and like to think that if I study enough, I can figure out a solution. But sometimes I need to sit back and listen to where God is pushing and nudging me.

You use to live in Chicago and now you reside in Madison. What do you miss about living in Chicago?
One of my biggest complaints about Madison has been that it is one of the largest small towns I know. It seems connection in Madison happens on the personal level. It’s hard to connect together with others doing the same work because it’s all built on personal relationships. In Chicago, because it was such a large city, networks had developed to connect together people who were doing similar work. Madison is lacking in these networks. I also miss my favorite Ethiopian restaurant. 🙂

Do people change the way they treat you once they find out you are a pastor?
When I tell people I’m a pastor, they are often surprised and I usually get a response like, “You’re so young “ “You have tattoos and a nosering!” “You’re drinking a beer!” They often get a little uncomfortable, but as they get to know me they realize that I’m no different than them. I just try to be myself and open to others and let they know that pastors come in all shapes and sizes.

How do you relax?
I love to travel, whether it be to a small town in northern Wisconsin for a weekend getaway or across the world for a week of exploration. When I can’t get away, I love cooking and eating. My spouse and I often invite people over to hang out in our backyard for cookouts.