Reach out to Appalachian Trail chaplain

July 06, 2015

The Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church in Alcoa, TN, sponsors a chaplain-hiker on the Appalachian Trail each year.

Many of our churches hosted last year's chaplain, David “Shortstop” Smith on his trek north. This year, we invite even more of you to reach out with some radical hospitality to this year's hiker Bert “Wildcat” Emmerson, who began his south-bound journey from Maine in mid-June. Read a news story about Emmerson

He had a wonderful send-off by Pastor Stephen Dean and the Brownville Junction UMC and is now approaching the New Hampshire border.

Each year hundreds of hikers travel the Appalachian Trail, which runs more than 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia.

Hiking even portions of the AT is a significant challenge. People leave special gifts of food, drink, dry socks, candy, etc. along the trail for the hikers (these folks are called “trail angels” and the gifts are “trail magic”).

Sometimes, people will invite hikers into their homes to give them a respite from their journey ... offering a home-cooked meal, a place to take a nap, wash clothes, take a shower, etc. Hikers carry very little in their packs. They may want to use your phone or charge their phone, check their email, etc.

It is a great way to get your congregation involved in some fun outreach.

If your church is located anywhere along the AT, Wildcat may be in your area in the next few weeks. His next town visit will be Stratton, ME. He should be out of Massachusetts and into Connecticut by the end of August. 

Emmerson can be reached by call or text at (865) 361-7459 or via email at
Please let us know if you make contact ( We would love to share the stories of our Conference “trail angels.”