By Kelsey Taylor
On March 16, Alma welcomed its new Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life, Rev. Andrew Pomerville. He comes to Alma from the Peoples Church of East Lansing after serving as its senior pastor for seven years, having also served as a chaplain for Denali National Park in Alaska, the Police Department of East Lansing and hospice.
An Alma College alumnus himself, Pomerville is excited to come back to the community to serve as chaplain. “I’m excited about [chapel services], but I’m also looking forward to being the chaplain to athletics, to all the liberal arts programs, alumni, current students and prospective students and really be someone to help be a resource to everyone for their own spiritual growth.”
Pomerville is also enthusiastic to introduce some more ways the chapel can be involved within the campus community, expressing interest in having all spiritual activities come under the chapel and interact with one another. He invites organizations to also reach out to him to have him speak or just to introduce himself.
Pomerville hopes to work with students to create an environment where students of any belief can be safe to grow together in their spiritual journey. “My dream is that people would see that chapel as the kind of spiritual center, and the basement as a safe, hospitable, fun place to be,” said Pomerville.
By connecting with the students here and implementing new programs, Pomerville aspires to make Alma a model for other colleges and universities to be inspired by. “I love the idea of following the lead of the students and seeing what they think our priorities need to be to create something the rest of the world can model. I think Alma should be leading, especially in the way we do chapel. We shouldn’t be looking at another college or university; we should be the ones setting the tone and having others be inspired by what we do.”
Students are also eager to get to know Pomerville after the resignation of Rev. Noel Snyder last year. “I’m super excited to have a new chaplain. It will be good to bring a new face onto campus,” said Madelyn Winnie (‘19). She also expressed interest in some of Pomerville’s ideas for how to expand faith activities on campus, and encourages Pomerville to reach out to students around campus.
There are many ways to connect with others of a similar or different faith. Not only is there a multi-denomination service at the chapel at 7 p.m. on Sunday evenings, there are numerous faith-based clubs around campus that meet throughout the week.
Pomerville also hopes to begin hosting more services during the week in beginning in the fall semester to make them more accessible to everyone, and he plans to hold office hours at different places around campus to more easily interact with students. “Generally, I’m in the chapel basement, but I’ll also try to publicize office hours. I’m going to try to use our social media a little bit more effectively to say where I’ll be throughout the week as well.”
“I know Alma gave me the opportunity to lead and grow certainly in my faith but also in a million other ways,” said Pomerville.
“I think a liberal arts education is different from just a career path; we’re training you to become a good global citizen, to understand [your] own faith tradition but also to have respect and knowledge of those who believe differently without condemning them.”