Kurt Brown hails from Sacramento, California, where his family joined the Church when he was young. He played two years of college basketball, studied Finance and Economics at Brigham Young University, and dropped out senior year to go to Wall Street, where he was a trader on the New York Stock Exchange and the co-manager of an investment fund for 13 years. He started his own firm, TownSquare Capital, in 2018 and sold it to a larger, national firm (Orion) in 2022.
In the Church, his callings have included single adult ward bishop, Young Men president, scoutmaster, Gospel Doctrine teacher, elders quorum president, and ward clerk. He served in the Canada Halifax mission. Kurt and his wife, Katie, have been married 16 years and have four children: one biological son, an adopted daughter, and two special-needs foster children they adopted. Kurt and Katie have been called to serve as the mission leaders of the Washington Tacoma Mission starting July 2023.
03:40 Introduction to Kurt Brown, his childhood, his family joining the church, and his mission.
12:30 Working at wall street, going to college, and playing basketball.
15:20 Slipping away from the church for a time. Kurt’s faith journey and ending up back in Utah.
19:00 Coming back to Utah, getting his life back in order, got married at 35.
21:30 Kurt helped create a mid singles ward in Provo, Utah and was the bishop of that ward. He talks about what he did to start the ward.
30:00 Establishing positive culture at church. They did this by creating a space that felt like the savior was present. The first weeks they had 120 people and within 5 months they had 500 people attending.
33:30 The experience that people need at church is to feel warm and welcomed. Every Sunday after sacrament meeting they would break into visitors meeting. Kurt shares what they would share with people in those meetings.
36:30 From the very first visitor’s meeting they established the culture. Everyone got vulnerable, shared their stories. Every single meeting was focused on helping people feel hope and the holy ghost.
37:50 There is something powerful about sharing our stories. When hearing people’s stories we need to have as much compassion as the savior would.
40:00 You aren’t the gatekeeper. You are the welcoming committee.
41:30 In three years they never assigned a topic for sacrament meeting.
42:15 Kurt constantly invited people to come see him and unload their pain on him.
43:20 Kurt shares an experience with President Eyring. President Eyring taught that while we are a handbook heavy church, the handbook is not what we are doing. It’s about love, not a checklist from the handbook.
45:40 After serving as bishop, Kurt has been able to see people in a completely different way. He is no longer a harsh judge.
47:50 Creating a bishop’s office that is a place to unload pain and feel hope.
49:00 Too many bishops insert themselves too much in other people’s repentance process. You are not their parole office. You are their advocate. You help carry the baggage.
52:20 Helping people with repentance
- Setting the framework
- The people choose their own path to repentance, not the bishop
- Take the focus off the shame and shift it to creating better self worth
1:02:30 Letting people choose their own path to repentance. What’s meaningful and personal to people is different and that’s why a repentance checklist from the bishop isn’t going to work for everyone. They have to work with the spirit to find out what they need to do to repent.
1:05:00 Disciplinary council is the last resort. We have to lean to the side of compassion and listen to the spirit.
1:08:45 Getting in trouble as bishop because he refused to kick anyone out of the ward just because they didn’t live in the boundaries. He felt strongly about protecting ‘the one’ and giving them a home.
1:12:20 Getting called as mission president.
1:21:50 Compassion is the number one thing that Kurt has learned from being a leader.
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