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God vs. wild

God vs. wild

Danielle Furfaro February 20, 2023

Last fall, Jonathan Malone ’11 was suffering a crisis.

The minister, who had earned a theology doctorate from UD and led a Rhode Island church for nearly 15 years, was unsure of his next step. So, he did what he had done in the past when he had doubts — he went for a hike. But not just any hike; he walked 100 miles of the Arizona Trail, ending at the Grand Canyon.

Jonathan Malone sitting in a tree out in a forest.
Jonathan Malone ’11

One morning of his trip, he realized he didn’t have enough water to make it through the day. He scrambled to locate a ranger, who led him to a fill station that had just enough water to make it to his next campsite. He took it as a sign from God. When he introduced himself to the ranger with his trail name, Sabbath, the ranger asked if he was a pastor. That was his cue to move forward with an idea that had been forming in his mind — to take his ministry outdoors.

Malone founded Wilderness Journeys, where he organizes and leads nature tours filled with theological discussion.

"It’s wilderness excursions with an emphasis on the divine," Malone said. "Every opportunity to go outside is a gift."

Malone took his first group out in June. They hiked the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

"It was great weather, great views, and they all had an opportunity to wrestle with anxiety, fear and pushing their own limits."

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