About Us

Morning-sun-on-the-dining-room-patioSpirit in the Desert Retreat Center welcomes all people to experience the pure beauty of God’s creation in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. The sunsets are breathtaking and the sunrises are announced by the calls of the Cactus Wren and Gambel’s Quail. The majestic Saguaro Cactus grow to 30 – 50 feet, weigh up to 9 tons and live for 200 years.  At an altitude of 2700′, the campus can be 15 degrees cooler than Phoenix, especially in the glorious evening and early morning hours.

In a peaceful and quiet setting, Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center welcomes groups, retreats, and individuals with advance notice. All bedrooms have private bathrooms, a patio or balcony, most with spectacular mountain views. Our experienced chefs will serve homemade, healthy meals and our swimming pool and hot tub will help you relax. More about our Facilities.

Five meeting rooms with free WiFi and AV support will provide the perfect setting for your meetings. This oasis in the desert also features a labyrinth and “Islands of Silence” mediation path for those who choose a quiet personal option.

Spirit in the Desert is the perfect place for your church and staff retreats.

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Staff List


Richard Andersen, Executive Director

richard_andersenRichard Andersen was born in Iowa and grew up in Minnesota.  He is a Vietnam veteran and a graduate of the University of Minnesota and Luther Seminary.  He helped build the ARC Retreat Center in MN & lived there in community for several years.

Later, he was pastor at Watson Immanuel Lutheran churches in southwestern Minnesota.  After that, he was Executive Director of the Foundation of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi, Minnesota, while serving as interim pastor at St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, St. Paul.

Richard received training from the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, California to become a Certified Life Coach.  From 1991 – 2006 Richard was a Senior Financial Consultant at Thrivent Financial.

Before coming to Spirit in the Desert, Richard Andersen was called by the ELCA to be Director of Congregational Relations and Senior Major Gifts Officer for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS).

Richard says, “I am in awe of how God leads us to serve where we are needed.  This call to a vocation of service often comes in the sabbatical time, a time apart where our guests find healing, rest and enrichment.  I am passionate about the hospitality that Spirit in the Desert provides encouraging our guests to renew their callings.”

Cathy Rogers, Operations & Finance Director

Cathy-RogersCathy Rogers, Operations & Finance Director, was born and raised in California. She has 30 years of experience in sales and accounting, and has owned two businesses. Moving to Arizona in 1998 was a transition for Cathy and the start of a new chapter—the 3rd chapter of her life! Not ready to retire, she secured an Arizona Insurance license, but soon realized it was not her calling. She says, “An ad for part-time help led me to Spirit in the Desert and the right calling was waiting for me.” Cathy and her husband John, are blessed with a blended family of six children, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandson.


Cyndy Warnier, Program & Development Director

Cyndy_WarnierCyndy Warnier, Program & Development Director, has worn many hats in her life, starting in dental hygiene, music teacher, then following God’s call into full-time music ministry. She joined our staff at Spirit in September 2008 and continues to volunteer in music at her church, her chaplaincy with the National Forest Service and is an avid shutter-bug and lover of God’s creation. Cyndy and her husband Al, moved out here 26 years ago from northern Wisconsin. They fell in love with the desert immediately and have traveled just about every corner of Arizona in their RV. Cyndy’s joy in life is any form of ministry from the campground to the office and she is excited to be part of the team and the meaningful ministry of Spirit in the Desert.

Board of Directors List

Spirit in the Desert is blessed by a excellent core of leaders who serve on our Board of Directors.

Dennis Dahlen, Phoenix, AZ, Chair

David Tiede, White Bear Lake, MN, Vice Chair

Bob Duea, Surprise, AZ, Treasurer

Deborah Hutterer, Ahwatukee, AZ, Secretary

Tammy Devine, Minneapolis, MN

Paul Evenson, Thousand Oaks, CA

John Kautz, Tucson, AZ

Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, Thousand Oaks, CA

Paula Mortensen, Scottsdale, AZ

Bob Ulland, Scottsdale, AZ

Mary Wennes, Thousand Oaks, CA