Letter: A point about the AT Chaplain program

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I was very bothered by the article “Appalachian Trail Chaplain Discusses Her Long Trek Ahead” [June 29, Xpress].

The article gave the impression that the AT has a formal chaplain. The Appalachian Trail is a National Park Service unit — formally called the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. It is managed day to day by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, a nonprofit, nonreligious organization.

The “chaplain” comes from a Methodist church that came up with this title and program. Why limit this program to Methodists? Why not have the whole gamut of religions with “chaplains”? The point is that this “chaplain” is not official or recognized by the AT or anyone else.

I looked up the Appalachian Trail Chaplain program on Facebook. It clearly says that it is a religious organization. From there, I also learned that Rachel Ahrens is already off the trail.

— Danny Bernstein

Editor’s note: Thank you for your feedback. We have updated the online version of the article to reflect that Ahrens injured her foot on the trail and was off the AT seeking medical attention.


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