Andrew Pomerville in Alaska
Alaska is a long way from the Great Lakes State, but somehow Andrew Pomerville '01 keeps ending up there. On his first three trips to the 49th state, the Alma history major and religious studies minor was enamored with the natural beauty that makes Alaska “like no other place in the world.” To his delight, Pomerville’s next trip north won’t be to visit, but to serve on the Ministry Staff of the Christian Ministry in National Parks program in Denali, Alaska.
Pomerville’s call to the ministry culminated last year when he enrolled in Princeton Theological Seminary. As a seminarian on staff at Denali National Park this summer, he will fill one of Princeton’s internship requirements, directing a staff of about 10 volunteers and organizing programs while attempting to be a “presence in the park” as a chaplain. Loneliness won’t be a problem for Pomerville as he isn’t undertaking this venture alone. Instead, he’ll be going to Alaska with his wife Rachel Monville Pomerville, who graduated from Alma in 2001 and is now a teacher. In addition to their roles in the park ministry, the Pomervilles will serve as tour guides and restaurant staff. The couple eagerly awaits the program, which begins in mid-May.
The Pomervilles in NYC
While he and his wife prepare for their trip, Pomerville is finishing his first year of seminary, which included courses in theology and church history. He also studies biblical languages like Greek and Hebrew in order to read the Bible in its original form. After completing the three-year Master of Divinity program at Princeton, the Alma alumnus will have ordination exams, after which he can become a pastor.
Pomerville first felt called to the ministry while attending Alma. A great influence on his calling was Dr. Joseph Walser, a professor who Pomerville says “guided me toward the Presbyterian ministry.” As an undergraduate, the Brighton native served as youth director of Alma’s First Presbyterian Church before becoming chapel assistant to Alma Chaplain Reverend Jesse Perry in 2001 — an “awesome” and rewarding position. Visiting Princeton during his sophomore year helped Pomerville define his aspirations. Throughout his time at Alma, his calling to the ministry was “always there, always building.”
Originally, Pomerville planned to attend Princeton immediately after graduation from Alma, but instead he became the youth minister at Brighton Presbyterian Church, a position he served for two years. Pomerville says this practical ministry experience “really helped prepare me for seminary.” His upcoming internship in Alaska will certainly provide more valuable experience. The location of the summer program is anything but accidental. He feels drawn to Alaska after previous trips, which include an off-campus Spring Term to study the Exxon Valdez oil spill and a summer spent working there. Pomerville’s experiences in Alaska made him a great fit for the ministry program in Denali National Park, an opportunity which he says “just fell into my lap.”
In addition to traveling to the far reaches of the U.S., Pomerville has enjoyed seeing other parts of the world. Before enrolling at Princeton, he and his wife took a three-month world trip, visiting countries like England, Germany, and Singapore. The couple spent most of their time in New Zealand and Australia, where the Presbyterian churches left them “in awe.”
While the ministry isn’t for everyone, Pomerville feels certain he has found his calling. One of the greatest rewards for him thus far has been connecting with people, “being able to open up people’s faith to help them feel the presence of Christ in their lives.” As a chaplain, he is called to help the grieving and the sick through trying times in their lives. While this process is sometimes difficult, Pomerville feels fortunate to be able to “go on that journey” with people in need of support and spiritual guidance.
As for the future, Pomerville feels particularly called to the rural ministry. “There’s such a demand for small-church pastors,” he says. His world travels also sparked his interest in international ministry, saying he and his wife are “open to serving anywhere.” Pomerville’s experience in Alaska this summer and as a student pastor in New Jersey next fall may help him further define his calling. Whether he ends up in the Great White North or elsewhere, Pomerville is sure to thrive as a pastor. In addition to religious devotion, he says, “I really enjoy the interaction with people — I thrive on it.”