BASTIAN, Va. (June 26, 2015) -- The Appalachian Trail Outreach Ministry (A.T.O.M.) in Bland County has completed its 14th successful year. Since 2002, the program has fed hot homemade breakfasts to thousands of hikers.
“This was one of the best groups of hikers we’ve had,” noted Alan Ashworth, pastor of the Round Mountain United Methodist Circuit where A.T.O.M. began. “We’ve made lasting friendships between our sister churches and had wonderful experiences with the hikers.”
The circuit’s mission led the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church to provide a full-time chaplain for hikers on the Appalachian Trail three years ago. Josh Lindamood, son of the Rev. Rick and Carol Lindamood of West End United Methodist Church in Wytheville, was the first appointee.
This year’s chaplain, Bert Emmerson, was appointed recently during Holston Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. He succeeds Dave Smith.