Brinson named Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist in Geneseo

Claudia Loucks
Conner Brinson recently was named Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Geneseo

Conner Brinson has a favorite scripture, Luke 9:23, which reads ‘Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’.”

Brinson has been named Director of Student Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Geneseo and he believes that scripture keeps him centered in the reason why God has called him to this career – “to serve others by serving Him first,” he said.

He explained what the verse means to him and said, “This verse is my favorite because it is a reminder to humble myself before the Lord. Jesus tells us here if we really want to be a follower of His, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross. This means everything we do, ministry related or not, is not for ourselves, but for the betterment of the Kingdom of God. I often say this prayer to ask God to help me deny myself and take up my cross before I preach or lead a youth group service.”

As Director of Student Ministries at First UMC, Brinson’s responsibilities include the planning, preparation and execution of all 6th-12th grade programming, as well as starting a young adult/20-something ministry. Those responsibilities include weekly youth group, planning for Youth Sunday School, planning summer camp, meeting with students and families and being a liaison between the students and church staff.

Prior to coming to First Methodist in Geneseo, Brinson was youth leader at his home church, Hope Lutheran Church in Quincy.

“I started serving my home church in Quincy when I was in high school,” he said. “I served on committees, helped with Sunday school, church camp counselor, Vacation Bible School, and all things in-between. I preached occasionally and was eventually hired as Youth Leader, which gave me the experience that God has used to bring me to Geneseo First Methodist.”

Brinson served at Hope Lutheran in Quincy from August 2010-June 2021.

He said when the search process for a Director of Student Ministries began at First UMC in Geneseo, he was not “actively looking for a change. I was happy serving my home church, but I knew I eventually wanted to move into full-time ministry. I was bi-vocational, working part time at the church and full-time as a local preschool teacher.”

With his older brother’s help, Brinson said he “came across this job description that my older brother forced upon me, I think because he wanted me to live closer. I expected to apply and get the denial letter two days later, but God has opened every door during this whole process and now I am beyond excited and blessed to be serving as Director of Student Ministries at a faithful and Bible-centered congregation.”

The Director of Student Ministries was born in Tacoma, Wash., and moved to Quincy in 2010.

“My mom still lives in Quincy while my dad lives in Woodhull with my younger brother, my older brother lives in Moline and I also have a sister still living in Washington state,” Brinson said. “I was raised primarily by my mother; we grew up going to church and Sunday school every Sunday. When we moved to Quincy, we started attending Hope Lutheran Church where I was confirmed and eventually hired as Youth Leader.”

He graduated from Quincy High School and attended Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, and then transferred and will receive a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Youth/Student Ministry from Liberty University in December.

“When we moved to Illinois I was a teenager and was pretty upset with God and didn’t quite understand why I had to leave a place I was fond of to come to a small town in Illinois,” he said. “I think it was clear to everyone except me that I someday was going into ministry. It took a lot of fighting with God for me to answer that calling. I was saved at church camp, and since then it has been my life calling to share the gospel and love of Christ with young people because I wish I had truly and fully understood what that means for your life when I was their age.”

Brinson said he has “experienced and met some of the kindest, most welcoming people I have ever met here at First. From the staff to the volunteer members and especially Pastor Chris Ritter, they have showed me nothing but love, support, and compassion. I love how First Methodist is a bigger congregation, but still has the feel and welcome as a small congregation. There are even greater things to come through the Lord to First Methodist.”

“Student Ministry has been strong here at First Methodist for quite some time, but I am excited to take over and be the first full-time person in this position since 2014,” he said. “They have tasked me with starting and organizing a young adult/20-something ministry as I did at my home church in Quincy. I cannot wait to get that started and start building relationships within the community in Geneseo.”

Brinson moved to Geneseo with his 12-year-old Dachshund “Lena.”