Way in the Wilderness launches digital passport

LoyalBrew isn’t only for food or beverage trails. Case in point is Way in the Wilderness, which launched their digital passport this month. We spoke with Rev. Kevin Miller about the project and their use of a passport.

Way in the Wilderness Pilgrimage

What exactly is Way in the Wilderness?

In Jeremiah 29:7, God speaks through the prophet saying, “Seek the shalom of the places (or literally ‘land’) I have sent you.”  Way in the Wilderness, takes this command quite literally. We are a ministry of followers of Jesus, grounded in the Upper Swannanoa River Watershed and dedicated to God’s vision of beloved community and the reconciliation of all creation. We seek to foster authentic relationships with ALL (human and nonhuman), and work to establish “demonstration plots” within our local community where ALL can experience the goodness of God’s Kingdom breaking into our world.  ALL people, of ALL faith backgrounds (or no faith background) are invited to join us on pilgrimage!

The Way in the Wilderness Pilgrimage of Hope is an all-day, led experience connecting 12 miles of greenways, wooded paths, sidewalks, and roads, taking pilgrims on a transformational journey through the Upper Swannanoa River Watershed.  Through communal walking, our pilgrimage creates the time and space for pilgrims to experience this watershed deeply, and in doing so, begin to fall in love with the creation around them. In the words of the 12th-century poet, mystic and visionary, Hildegard of Bingen, “We shall awaken from our dullness and rise vigorously toward justice. If we fall in love with creation deeper and deeper, we will respond to its endangerment with passion.”   And so, this is ultimately a journey of healing, hope, and reconciliation between people to one another, the creation, and God–a journey that we hope might one day even include the restoration of the Swannanoa River. At various stops on the pilgrimage, we invite pilgrims to slow down and pay attention to the watershed and its many inhabitants. This might be a treasured tree of ancient growth or a local business that leans into an ethic of right relationship between people, the creation, and God.  At these stops, we offer prayers, blessings, and meditations, marking the pilgrim’s path with physical and/or digital stamps to place in a pilgrim passport book.  Learn more at www.wayinthewilderness.org 

When and how did Way in the Wilderness get started?

Three years in the making, this Pilgrimage of Hope grew out of a doctoral program that myself and Rev. Kevin Bates were both a part of at Duke University.  This project is the culmination of years of study, planning, testing, and implementation, and was our final thesis project.

Way in the Wilderness Pilgrimage

How does Way in the Wilderness plan on using LoyalBrew?

LoyalBrew is an important part of the pilgrimage experience!  There are digital stamps and/or physical stamps for each stop along the pilgrimage, and each digital stamp within LoyalBrew has information about each location.  Pilgrims will also have the option of submitting photos/selfies through the app.  Once all stamps have been obtained and the day-long pilgrimage completed, we celebrate with a fiesta together! Meeting up at the local WNC Outdoor Collective, we rejoice together in “a day well lived” over good pizza and good drinks. During this celebration we share our favorite parts of the journey, hand out certificates of completion, and cheer on each pilgrim’s accomplishment.  

Currently, this is designed to be a group experience led by Kevin (Miller) & Kevin (Bates). It requires signing up for one of our upcoming pilgrimages or scheduling an entire pilgrimage just for your group. If you are interested in joining us for a pilgrimage, find our contact information at www.wayinthewilderness.org 

Black Mountain, North Carolina is an absolutely beautiful place. Where would you recommend someone visit if they were there for a weekend? 

One of the beautiful things about the pilgrimage is that it invites you to spend some time visiting some of the most incredible businesses, shops, and community partners in our watershed. Looking for a good cup of coffee? You’ll find several on the pilgrim path – Cup of Jomo, Sassafras, and Four Sisters Bakery, just to name a few. Interested in local art? Then make your way to BAD Craft or The Old Depot. Into hiking? Then visit the WNC Outdoor Collective and hit up some local trails in Montreat or Christmount. From great food and beverages indoors and out, to local gifts and art, and communal spaces to gather, Black Mountain truly is the little town that rocks. 

If you are interested in joining Kevin for a pilgrimage, you can find their contact information at wayinthewilderness.org