Our Stories: Stephanie Tuley
Stephanie Tuley grew up around churches. Her father, Fritz Lampe, was a Lutheran pastor who spent a number of years in the 1980s in ministry in Lae, Papua New Guinea. The young family moved to Anchorage Alaska in 1990, where Fritz served as a pastor before leaving to pursue a doctorate in Cultural Anthropology at Syracuse University in upstate New York. Stephanie likes to recount how, during her confirmation classes, she had troubles with various aspects of Lutheran theology. She brought the concerns up to her father, who, to her surprise, was open to her skepticisms “and helped me define language for what I was feeling and believing.” In one conversation, she relates, he even confided being something of a “universalist” too.
Those conversations set the stage for her joining a UU church some years later, when she was a student at Indiana University. Once she and her husband John moved to Colorado in 2009, she considered joining BVUUF but held off. Her son Zachary was born in November 2015 and it was just one year later – with the pain of the November 2016 election still very much with her – that she joined and has become a very active member. Since moving to Lyons a few years ago, she still continues to drive the 45 minutes or so each way – finding the commute to be not all that bad, especially if she can listen to beautiful music on the car stereo while Zachary takes a nap.
“When I contribute to a community, I think I get back much more than what I’ve contributed” she says, which is perhaps why she is now on the Worship and Arts Council – which works closely with the Service Associates, the Aesthetics Committee, and the AV Team to craft the scope of Sunday services. And she also heads up the Ministerial Formation Team, which chose and provides guidance to our new intern minister Lisa Moore. Stephanie had worked on the Ministerial Formation Team a few years earlier, when AJ van Tyne was our intern, and was called back when it was time to find the next intern. Growing up as the daughter of a Lutheran pastor assigned to places like Papua New Guinea, she says, “gave me a much broader world view than I would have had otherwise.” This is part of the reason, she believes, that UUism is such a perfect fit for her.
In college Stephanie majored in ballet and in mathematics, then went on to be a professional ballet dancer and teacher, receiving an MFA in choreography, ballet history and pedagogy in 2011 Being in the ballet community, she says, “gave me different kind of exposure to the world; these people were artists and intellectuals and embraced the LGBTQ community. It was an atmosphere where people could openly express their sexuality, and also a place where people may not have very much money but are still working hard day to day at a very high level of skill and training. There’s a lot of questioning of the status quo in those kinds of communities.” Stephanie stopped dancing after a serious injury and then stopped coaching and choreographing after her son Zachary’s birth. I asked if there were any other things about her that she’d like the congregation to know about. Her first reply was that she has two huge Newfoundland dogs who are as big as she is and who were of great help when Zachary was learning to walk because he would pull himself up vertically by holding onto their fur, and they wouldn’t even flinch when he did this. Her second reply was that she is a voracious reader of Harry Potter books and lines up at bookstores to get every new release.
Stephanie is a vibrant, fun, energetic person. We are so lucky to have her among us.