written by Tessa Stultz
“Learning” can mean different things, for different people, in different circumstances, in different seasons of life. For folks at trp, “learning” may initially point toward the focus and importance placed on the Bible … the text … the inspired word of God. If you spend any sort of time at trp, it’s clear that this kind of learning is a priority. We believe that God is not threatened by our questioning and searching. In fact, we believe God honors this endeavor. We take the Bible seriously, and therefore we take time to dig into the text and learn— about its historical context, about its context within the story of Jesus, about cultural contexts — all of which can shed much important light on what the Bible intends, what it means, and therefore, how we should interact with it, learn from it, and live from it.
We look to the Bible for wisdom, but also to those who have become experts on the text. We seek the wisdom of scholars, who have spent their lives discerning what this ancient book means and what we should do with it. This may be frowned upon in some Christian communities, but we have found that the depth of knowledge that comes from investigating and researching brings a richness and beauty that we would not have otherwise. Somewhat akin to the Jewish concept of Midrash, we are not afraid to go beyond the Bible to add context and to honor its storied history.
Beyond the research and investigation, we are, of course, still a people living in a certain time and place in history. Recognizing that God was speaking to people in a way they would understand is essential to interpreting (something everyone who encounters the Bible does) what it means. It also brings hope to us today. We believe God is still speaking to us in a way we will understand, and we are encouraged to know that God’s story continues in our lives and through the lives of others.
It’s important to note that learning in faith requires looking outside ourselves. We want to challenge ourselves to not be content with the individualized faith that the American church often encourages. We cannot be the hands and feet of Jesus if we are only willing to stay in our prayer closets to further our “personal walk with Jesus”.
Therefore, at trp we try our best to listen and learn from those around us; from the people we know who are experiencing everything from loss, injustice, grief, and poverty, to hope, light, encouragement, and change. We read books by people we may never interact with personally, but whose stories and testimonies can open our eyes beyond the tunnel vision we often have.
And, as we live in community, we learn from those we are doing life with and are humbled by the different representations of the Body of Christ. We are still spoken to through the spirit and surrounded by the image of God in the people around us, and we hope that we can honor those stories, which mean different things, for different people, in different circumstances, in different seasons of life.
Tessa hates writing bios. Mostly because it's impossible to describe the whole of oneself in a blurb. As an enneagram 4, she's afraid of being misunderstood and therefore avoids writing bios at all costs. But here we are.
A self-described "content machine", Tessa enjoys all things creative; writing and playing music, painting, drawing, graphic design, videography, redoing furniture. She hopes to one day put all this creative energy into a house, but for now she lives downtown in a third floor apartment with her dog, Novie, and her bunny, Eubie.
On her to-do list are: be a mascot for a day, do at least one set of stand up, write and illustrate a children's book, paint a mural on a large outdoor wall, and record and release an album. Until then, she's working for trp as a media director of sorts, putting her BFA to good use in all of their graphic design, videos, music, etc. She also uses these mediums in her job with The Bible for Normal People as a creative director.
When she's not doing either of these, she's either seeking out freelance work, watching Gilmore Girls or Schitt's Creek (AGAIN), or taking 5 mile walks around Salisbury. She's also been known to check out several DVDs from the library at a time and sit down for solo movie marathons.
She loves a coffee, beer, or gin drink, conversing, laughing, and storytelling with friends, or sitting down for a meal with community.