Alma hired a new chaplain this year. Andrew Pomerville, an Alma graduate himself, brought with him a few changes to how the Chapel is run. One of those changes being the new Thursday service from 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
College staff and students pointed to the Chapel’s welcoming feeling no matter what event they participate in. “I try to attend every Thursday with Coach Cole,” said Coach Jason Couch.
“It is a great service that [has] allow[ed] me to escape whatever I’m doing throughout the day and center myself. My family and I also go to the Sunday service.”
“The Thursday interfaith service is meant to be a break in the middle of the day for students, staff, and faculty all together,” said Pomerville. “[It’s] interfaith so we have different voices and different faith perspectives that are on display each time.”
According to Pomerville, one of his goals is to make the Chapel an open place. “I’m hoping every student and faculty member will have the opportunity to engage with the Chapel or me as the chaplain while they’re here.”
He wished to establish personal connections with students and staff. “I’m here for some counseling and support as well.”
His new approach has also impacted their hiring policy. “We’ve added our interfaith approach to our student ministry coordinators. We used to hire students who were simply asked to run our Sunday night ecumenical Christian service. Now we hire students who are from a variety of faith backgrounds.”
“You may be of a different faith from the person next to you, but what does it look like to all be working towards one unified sense of ministry that we’re all trying to demonstrate here?” said Pomerville.
“I’m everyone’s chaplain whether they want me or not; That’s what I have always told people,” said Pomerville. “I’m chaplain to atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics. You name it I am your chaplain.”
He distinguished between the role of pastor and chaplain. A pastor is for a particular church, but a chaplain is for an organization.
“It’s not my place to pretend to be an imam or a rabbi, but I will help facilitate and find the right avenues and resources for people regardless of their faith,” said Pomerville. “Even if it’s one that I don’t know. It’s my job to try and figure it out.”
Pomerville also hosts a chapel service before every football game. “It [has been] a time for reflection and sanctuary before they go off,” said Pomerville. “It’s not just a club that meets in the basement of the Chapel. The idea of the chaplaincy being part of the campus everywhere [has been] a goal for the college.”
“I want students to feel that they are safe, that they’re able to ask as many questions as they have, [and] that they’re not feeling they’re being indoctrinated but they are certainly learning,” he said.
“I love his sense of inclusiveness, his positive attitude, and his welcoming posture,” said English Professor Dana Aspinall when asked about his experience when attending the Chapel’s events.
“I also like how he has involved students in his Sunday services,” said Aspinall. “You just [came] out of there feeling positive and that there are still people who care about each other.”