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Today in the Mission Yearbook

‘I’m glad someone did that for me as well’

 

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Pomerville, president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, is the guest on ‘Leading Theologically’

June 14, 2024

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Pomerville

Describing himself as an “almost empty-nester” with a daughter set to soon attend college in Scotland and a son preparing for higher education two years later, the Rev. Dr. Andrew Pomerville, the president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary since July 2023, says he’s seeing the world more and more through the eyes of younger people.

“It’s been interesting to think about what I was at that time, what I understood about the church and my sense of call,” Pomerville said during a recent episode “Leading Theologically,” a broadcast hosted by the Presbyterian Foundation’s the Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty, which can be viewed here or here. “Now it’s becoming so much more personal. Thinking about what they’re thinking about has helped me to adjust my own pondering and discernment.”

Theological institutions “have always helped us look around the corner,” Hinson-Hasty said, adding he and his wife are trying to think of themselves less as empty nesters and more as bird-launchers. “We have prepared these birds to fly,” he told Pomerville. “They may not fly well at the beginning, but they’re going to get there.”

As students begin their seminary studies, “I have in my head what I think they should be asking or what they might be considering, but it often turns out I’m off-base on some of them,” Pomerville said. “I haven’t thought about what experiences they’ve already had growing up in a different type of environment,” and that also holds true for “our second- and third-career folks. We’re asking questions these days, and I’m not sure we’re looking at the world through the same lenses as our students who are arriving.”

Pomerville previously served as assistant vice president of Community Engagement and the senior chaplain at his alma mater, Alma College in Alma, Michigan. The administrative part of that role “isn’t what I went to seminary to do, but I certainly learned some things there, and being in a seminary setting, I see what’s analogous,” he said. His doctoral work a decade ago included “a robust conversation about church online. It definitely wasn’t the norm. I asked, ‘Can you have real congregational vitality online?’ The literature at the time said no, you’ve got to have embodiment at some point,” but “it’s a good supplement.”

“Now people claim it,” Pomerville said. “Lots of people are talking about it, and seminaries should be a place where those conversations are happening.”

The Rev. Dr. Lee Hinson-Hasty

In addition to the Louisville Institute, which is housed at the seminary, Pomerville and Hinson-Hasty discussed LPTS’ Marriage and Family Therapy Program as well as its Black Church Studies Program. Of the latter, Pomerville said, “I’m impressed with faculty and scholars here who have been diving into the rural African American church experience, which is a unique niche and one that needs to be explored.”

“So many folks in small churches are looking for resources and for what comes next for their congregations, and how they answer commercial gentrification that’s pushing them out as cities grow larger,” Pomerville said. “What does the imagination look like for a church that was founded by formerly enslaved people that has a firm tradition in that area? What does that mean now and for the generations later?”

Pomerville said he’s learned by talking to presidents at other seminaries related to the PC(USA) that “we should not assume we know what churches need these days. It’s great to go into the world and ask the churches and our neighbors, our non-churched folks, ‘What is it you think a seminary-trained person should know?’ It makes for fun conversations.”

Pomerville’s daughter plans to study environmental sustainability. “That was not a major when I was an undergraduate,” he said. “How do we merge some of that with our theological questions? Do we have that same lens we are able to use to talk about how we steward Creation, how we wonder about the choices we make and how they impact others? I have learned a lot from my kids, that’s for sure.”

“That’s a leadership lesson right there: Get to know some people younger than you are and you’ll learn something,” Hinson-Hasty said. “They’re asking a different set of questions.”

Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service

Today’s Focus: Rev. Dr. Andrew Pomerville, president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, guest on the ‘Leading Theologically’ podcast

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Jessica Kelley, Acquisitions Editor, Presbyterian Publishing Corporation 
Wilson Kennedy, Associate Director, Special Offerings, Administrative Services Group (A Corp) 

Let us pray

Father, we grow complacent in the calm, but you have equipped us for the storm. Guide and bless us as we work together in your name. Amen.