Tristan Tenney, a student at Dallas Theological Seminary in the master of theology program, is the distinguished recipient of the 2017-2018 William N. Garrison Faith-and-Work Fellowship. Tristan plans to work as a senior pastor following graduation. He currently works as a registered nurse for JPS Health Network at the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth, Texas.
Selected by Mr. Bill Hendricks, executive director for Christian Leadership, and Dr. Darrell Bock, executive director of Cultural Engagement and senior research professor of New Testament Studies, Tristan’s desire and persistence to grow in the area of faith and work while pursuing his theology degree made him the ideal candidate.
The Faith-and-Work Fellowship
The William N. Garrison Faith-and-Work Fellowship was established by The Hendricks Center (THC) to give a pastor-in-training at DTS “firsthand and in-depth exposure to the everyday work world, along with a robust theology of work.” It is named in honor of the late Bill Garrison, an attorney, former DTS board member, and early advocate for the value and significance of lay ministry. THC honors Bill Garrison’s legacy because of his tireless advocacy for everyday Christians—people whom Paul calls “the saints” in Eph 4:12 and whose calling is to do “the work of service.”
The Garrison fellowship at THC is designed to acclimate future leaders to the workplace realities that congregants face in their everyday lives. It is intended to equip leaders so they will be natural in their preaching, teaching, pastoring, and leading to help those in the workforce draw upon all the resources of Christ in their vocation.
Work, Faith, and Preaching
THC has participated in the faith and work movement for nearly four decades. Bill Hendricks wrote that they invited Tristan because of "his openness towards the program and his persistence.” Tristan had applied for the fellowship last year and was not selected. So he reapplied this year. Hendricks explains, “It shows he is serious about developing his ability to integrate faith and work in his preaching and teaching ministry. It’s hard to say no to someone who won’t take no for an answer.”
Although Tristan is fairly new to the faith and work conversation, THC believes it will help him connect what he already knows with good theology, along with interactions with Christians at work who will help him deepen his insight into the nature, purpose, and meaning of work from God’s perspective.
How did he hear about his new role? As Tristan was trying to relax prior to getting ready to go clock in to his night shift, Tristan received the congratulatory phone call from Hendricks. Tristan explains, “I was stunned. All I could get out of the conversation was, ‘Praise the Lord!’”
After graduating, Tristan hopes to work as a senior pastor. “I am not certain where I will be going upon graduation yet. We are trusting that God knows and that he will guide us as we approach our final time here at DTS. One of my kids hopes that God calls us to Alaska and another is hoping it is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. All I know is that I have a heart for people. I love being able to connect with people and sharing the truths of God's Word in a way that people can apply it to their every day life. Where that happens is up to God.”
Learning from The Hendricks Center
Tristan hopes his experience, his studies in pastoral theology and practice will impact the role he now has within THC. “The gospel affects every aspect of our lives and so the pastor must be able to speak to all of those areas and needs. My studies in pastoral theology and practice will allow me to view the experiences of parishioners in their work place through the lens of a pastor. My hope is that it will enhance the effectiveness of my preaching by allowing me to empathize with those facing struggles in the work place and equipping me to be able to offer insight and encouragement from the pulpit to them.”
Tristan graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College with a bachelor's degree in nursing in 2007. His most recent work has been with acute mental illness, addiction recovery, as well as correctional health care. Tristan was twenty years old when he felt God calling him into ministry. “I surrendered to the call and God immediately began to open doors for me to be involved in evangelistic work, briefly as an associate pastor, and then as a senior pastor for eleven years.” Tristan never received any formal ministry training prior to coming to DTS. He served as a bi-vocational pastor and saw the value of faith and work in his experiences firsthand. “I believe that the workplace is relevant for biblical application. It is also an excellent place for us to build intentional relationships and establish credibility for those we share our faith with.”
Tristan has been married to Ashleigh for twelve years and currently live in Euless, Texas with their five amazing children, Rose, Benjamin, Claire, Levi, and Jillian. “I love my family. I also love hunting, fishing, playing guitar, and I am an avid WVU Mountaineer basketball fan.”
For more information about The Hendricks Center, please visit the Hendricks Center webpage.