Brandon

Brandon O'Neill

opt_Brandon-O'Neill

 

Director of Music and Creative Arts

Leads music teams, handles web presence, graphic design, and branding

What is your personal motto or mission statement?

“Love is a better way.”

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

I realize that I tend to stand too close to people when I’m having a conversation. I guess my warning label would say “WARNING: Uncomfortably close conversational distance! It’s not on purpose! Feel free to take a step back to your comfort level!”

If you were being treated to a free lunch, where would you go?

If it was during the week, then Chipotle every time. If it was a weekend, then also Chipotle. Pretty much just Chipotle.

What would you sing at karaoke night?

Without question, “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias. In case you've forgotten...

What did you want to be when you were young?

When I was young I wanted to be a professional football player. I did one year of tackle football in 5th grade and quickly moved on from that dream because I didn’t realize how unpleasant it was getting hit all the time. I still love football, but definitely as a fan and not a player.

Favorite music right now?

I love Gungor, The 1975, Kings Kaleidoscope, and fun pop punk stuff (As It Is, Mayday Parade, A Day to Remember). On the heavier side I like Beartooth and Underoath a lot, and on the light-ish side I like Sleeping At Last, David Ramirez, and Allen Stone. I’ll also never object to some quality pop music. Here's a Spotify playlist of some of these artists if you’re interested!

What is your hope for Community West?

I hope that people feel valued here. I’m not interested in people feeling guilted or ostracized by religion, and I hope Community West is a place where people can experience the actual good stuff of truth and faith without the hangups that we imperfect people have placed on it. Belonging before belief.

My Story

I’ve always been a passionate person, even as a little kid. I grew up in the west end of Richmond and went to Longan Elementary, Moody Middle School, and Henrico High School. In middle school I found the greatest outlet for that passion in music.

My parents believed in God throughout my childhood, and I personally engaged with God for the first time in middle school through my HOPE Church family in Richmond. Faith was a big part of my life in high school, but it was very shame driven with a lot of emphasis on my own depravity. I struggled to believe that I was good and that God loved me, and I struggled with reconciling what I saw to be big problems in my life with being a “Christian” person.

I attended James Madison University where I studied Media, Art, and Design with a minor in Music Industry. One of my favorite memories of college was the time I spent with the JMU Freethinkers club. It was the first time I encountered well-read, introspective, and thoughtful people who believed the opposite of what I believed. I found myself challenged to explore a new understanding of God that extended beyond my preconceived notions of who God is, beyond my own feelings of shame, and beyond my own religious boxes.

I find myself in a place today where I see God’s goodness in the world and in every person that lives in it. I think faith invites us into a paradoxical space of giving ourselves up in order to gain something greater. Faith invites us to seek the well being of others first, to give up our time and money for the sake of our neighbors, and to engage the world in a holistically meaningful way. I believe God’s call is one of love, and that love is a better way to exist in this world. I hope you find that at Community West!