Presbyterians Today

APR-MAY 2018

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30 APRIL/MAY 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay A scend the church's steep driveway on any given day during peak hiking season — March through November — and you'll see pup tents pitched on the church's grassy knoll. Flanking the driveway are plastic lawn chairs doubling as drying racks, draped with underwear, pants, shorts and soggy socks of every size and color, drying in the sun and wind. Backpacks are opened to breathe needed fresh air and an array of hiking boots, creased and worn from the sharp Pennsylvanian rocks, rest nearby, exhausted from the journey. Inside the hostel, in the basement of the church, is a communal living room, typically strewn with gear and food. A bunk room that sleeps eight, as well as a shower room and a separate bathroom, is also in the church's basement. Hikers bring hope The outreach to hikers literally trans- formed the Presbyterian Church of the Mountain. Larry Beck, a long- serving church elder, was involved at its inception, when stated-supply pastor William H. Cohea designed a presbytery-funded survey to assess the needs of Appalachian Trail hikers passing through Delaware Water Gap. Beck recalls: "In 1976, the church was in trouble. It was dying. Only 15 congregants gathered for worship Weary walkers on Appalachian Trail find a respite BY SHERRY BLACKMAN

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