Pastor Tom Breeden
Q: You are a pastor by “trade” but what are some of your favorite hobbies in your off time? Are there things about those hobbies that you feel make you better able to serve the Lord?
I spend many of my evenings at the gym training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. One of my training partners once described jiu-jitsu as like trying to solve a puzzle that’s trying to solve you back. That’s such a great description! I love the way training engages my body and mind at the same time. I love that it’s hard, since it makes me work and grow. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m able to trick myself into exercising!
I started doing jiu-jitsu for myself, but it turned out to be a wonderful ministry opportunity too. I guess if we’re going to get up in each other’s personal space, we might as well get to know each other too! I’ve had a chance to talk with people on the mats about their hopes and struggles in ways that I never would have imagined.
Q: You are a native of Virginia and a native resident of Charlottesville. What are some of the most endearing and exciting things about where you live and why have you chosen to stay put all these years?
I’m someone who likes a bit of everything and Charlottesville scratches that itch. The mountains are within a few miles and the beach is only a couple of hours away (though I seriously hate sand). I can easily go visit major cities or get out into the middle of nowhere. We get all four seasons too. The summers are hot and the winters are snowy. The spring and fall are both colorful in their own unique ways. To top it all off, I love food and Charlottesville has tons of it! For someone who wants it all, Virginia fits the bill well.
Q: What made you decide to join the One America Movement team?
I have a personal story with the One America Movement. I joined the Charlottesville chapter when I was a pastor at Grace Community Church. I’ll be honest and say that at first I was a little suspicious. Most of the clergy groups that I had experienced were not a great use of time, but I’m so glad I gave this one a shot! I met some truly wonderful people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I’ve grown to really respect and appreciate everyone in that group.
But I also have theological reasons for getting involved. My experience with the One America Movement is that strangers became friends and there’s something profoundly Christian about that to me. The good news of the gospel is that, when we were enemies with God, we were reconciled to him by the blood of Christ. The Christian message is one of God overcoming the dividing force of sin and bringing people into friendship with him. If that’s God’s work, then it’s our work too.
So, joining the One America Movement was a no-brainer for me. A lot has happened in our country since I first joined the Charlottesville chapter. In some ways, it feels like the division and tension in our country have only gotten worse. I’m still hopeful because I believe in a God who’s making all things new. Strangers can become friends and those relationships can help us overcome all the division we see around us.