Expanding our circle of inclusion.
Sometimes the Reverend Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, of Thousand Oaks, California attends the Spirit in the Desert Board of Director meetings via video conference. However, she prefers attending the meetings on campus because, “I have a fondness for the desert, for the Center’s comfortable facilities, and the opportunity to have a retreat experience during a working board meeting.”
Melissa, who was appointed to Spirit in the Desert’s Board of Directors in 2016, is Vice President for Mission and Identity for California Lutheran University, where she previously was a campus pastor, a position she shared with her husband Scott Maxwell-Doherty, who continues as a campus pastor for university students, faculty, and employees.
As a board member, Melissa has the opportunity to facilitate the relationship between Spirit in the Desert and California Lutheran University, which includes CLU’s, Pacific Lutheran Theological School in Berkeley, California, one of the university’s graduate schools.
For the past four years, faculty from the University’s School of Management have led an executive skills workshop for clergy and church workers at Spirit in the Desert. Melissa is also exploring a potential collaboration between the Healing of Memories retreat for veterans at Spirit in the Desert and the University’s Office of Veterans Resources. There are other synergies to be considered between these two vital Southwest organizations.
When asked what Spirit in the Desert’s focus should be, Melissa said, “The ancient tradition of hospitality and welcoming practiced by Jesus and Judaism should continue at the Center, so people can come here and enter into a time of renewal and transformative experiences.” She added, “That focus should be lived boldly, ever deeper, and the circle of inclusion always expanding.”
Melissa is a member of the Board’s Marketing and Outreach Committee. She said, “I enjoy teaming up with the other directors who are talented people using their skills, to further the mission and vision of Spirit in the Desert.”