John Lionberger Facilitates Spiritual ‘Renewal In The Wilderness’

Local author Reverend John Lionberger follows in the tradition of naturalists Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, returning to nature to reconnect with the spiritual world.

Nominated numerous times as a Local Treasure for his many contributions to the local community as both a man of faith and a wilderness guide, Lionberger was inspired to help others after experiencing his own spiritual awakening 12 years ago.

“It was a dogsled trip in northern Minnesota, and in early February it was brutally cold,” he says. “Standing alone in the middle of a frozen lake, I was suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed by a sense of profound warmth, from the inside out, and ultimately with the absolute knowledge of God’s existence.”

Lionberger, an agnostic prior to the trip, left the experience a changed man. In 2001, he left his business career to start Renewal in the Wilderness, an interfaith ministry that leads group wilderness trips.

Renewal in the Wilderness takes men and women from all denominations and faith traditions out of their normal environments for days of wilderness travel, allowing them to become closer to their spiritual beliefs.

From weeklong canoe trips on the Rio Grande or the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, to three-day trips on the Wisconsin River, or one-day trips on the Kishwaukee, Renewal in the Wilderness has an option for anyone seeking a challenging and spiritual journey.

And rest assured you’ll be in good hands—Lionberger is an experienced wilderness guide. He has been on a multitude of adventure trips, including horse packing in the Tetons, back country ski trips in the Rockies and the Cascades, backpacking trips in the Peruvian Andes, whitewater canoeing on the Rio Grande and sea kayaking in British Columbia, Florida and Hawaii.

In 2007 Lionberger published a novel titled Renewal in the Wilderness: A Spiritual Guide to Connecting With God in the Natural World. His book explores his and others’ experiences on these spiritual retreats and has been met with positive feedback.

Publisher’s Weekly wrote: “Lionberger has an encompassing reach, giving voice to atheists, agnostics and the simply soul-weary, as well as believers from many of the world’s great faith traditions.”

For more information or to register for an upcoming trip, please visit their Web site at

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