Retreat Leaders

Retreat Leaders

Spirit in the Desert’s exceptional retreat leaders are selected for their professional knowledge, communication skills, and ability to engage our retreat guests in insightful conversations. They are invited to return by popular demand to lead Desert Sojourn Retreats and private retreat of all kinds.

HOM Retreat Leader
Picture of Audrey Lukasak

Audrey Lukasak

Rev. Audrey Lukasak first learned about Healing of Memories while studying the culture context of leadership in South Africa. She returned the following year for facilitator training at HOM after leaving a toxic ministry. She knew the importance to heal before entering a new ministry in order not to hurt others. Pastor Audrey earned her MDiv from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). As a retired ordained Lutheran pastor (ELCA) and an emeritus board-certified chaplain for over 30 years, she…
Lead Facilitator, Healing of Memories

Sheila Laughton

Sheila Laughton (USAF, Ret.) was a career Intelligence and Force Management officer who served from the Vietnam Era to 2000. She deployed to Saudi Arabia for the first Gulf War. After her military retirement, Sheila founded Welcome Home for veterans of all eras and their families, at the Loyola Spirituality Center in Minnesota. This unique program addressed challenging reintegration issues such as trauma, moral injury, life purpose, from a spiritual perspective. She has worked with men and women who have experienced or witnessed trauma…
Founder of Healing of Memories

Fr. Michael Lapsley SSM

Father Michael Lapsley is an Anglican missionary priest who was active in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. In 1990, after being ejected from South Africa, he suffered the loss of his hands and the sight in one eye from a letter-bomb that was sent to him in Zimbabwe by a supporter of the pro-apartheid government in South Africa. After a long recovery from the bombing, Father Lapsley decided to dedicate his life to helping victims of emotional, psychological, and…
Devotional Writer

Steve Holm

Each year, Steve Holm enthusiastically plays more than 100 rounds of golf and writes more than 400 inspiring daily devotionals. Steve is a retired Lutheran pastor and lives in Tempe, Arizona. He is the author of Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center’s popular DAILY MEDITATIONS which are available 365 days a year by email and at He is also the author of the popular Advent and Lenten meditationbooklets published by Spirit in the Desert since 2008. Golf is one…

Dave Schoenbeck

Respect. Mr. Schoenbeck was elected as a member of Spirit in the Desert’s Board of Directors in 2018. He brings to the organization his experience as a senior corporate executive and business coach. His personal values of respect for customers and co-workers were integral to his success as an executive with major national companies; those values harmonize with Spirit in the Desert’s mission of welcoming hospitality for all retreat guests. Dave was one of the co-founders and the Senior Vice-President…

Joel Bjerkestrand

Involved from the Beginning Pastor Joel Bjerkestrand was appointed a member of Spirit in the Desert’s Board of Directors in April 2019, bringing thirty years of involved ecumenical experience with Phoenix area faith communities and civic organizations. He is a dynamic speaker, mediator, educator, and counselor, having served three Lutheran congregations in the Phoenix metro area, one as associate pastor and two as senior pastor. Since 2011 he has been on staff as visitation pastor at La Casa de Cristo…

Melissa Maxwell-Doherty

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…

Paul Evenson

Charitable funds are oxygen. “Spirit in the Desert is one of the most exciting and dynamic ministries of the church.” That is the informed assessment of Paul Evenson who has spent years supporting Lutheran congregations, camps, colleges and institutions. When Paul was asked to serve a second term on Spirit in the Desert’s Board of Directors he enthusiastically said, “Yes.” He did so because he knows that the retreat center provides spiritual hospitality for guests of all people of faith. …
Retreat Leader

Diane Jacobson

Dr. Diane Jacobson is professor emerita of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, MN where she taught from 1982-2010.  She also served as director of the Book of Faith Initiative for the ELCA from 2008-2015. She is a rostered deacon of the ELCA. Jacobson has been a frequent speaker throughout the Church, including the 2011 and 2013 Churchwide Assemblies, the LWF 50th Anniversary Assembly in Hong Kong, and numerous synodical assemblies, rostered leaders gatherings, and churchwide consultations. Dr. Jacobson…
Retreat Leader – Wellness
Tammy Devine is leader of the Leading Well Learning Retreat at Spirit in the Desert

Tammy Devine

Fostering wellness and healing is a passion and call for Tammy Devine, Principal of Devine Coaching. From nursing, to parish nursing, to health and wellness ministry, she has helped foster health, healing, and wholeness in the lives of God’s people. Tammy has a Masters in Leadership from Luther Theological Seminary, and she is a Lutheran Deacon.  She has served as the director of wellness for a long-term care facility, and until recently was the Wellness Manager for Portico Benefit Services,…
Retreat Leader

Dr. David Tiede

Dr. David Tiede earned the B.A. degree from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., in 1962, attended Princeton Theological Seminary in 1962-63 and received the B.D. degree from Luther Seminary in 1966. He earned the Ph.D. degree from Harvard University in 1971. His service as President of Luther Seminary has given him opportunities to sustain his New Testament scholarship, especially in Luke and Acts, and to draw upon these resources in his leadership in theological education. His books, articles, and lectures focus…
Retreat Leader

Margaret Fell

Margaret Fell has worked with Fr. Michael Lapsley and the Institute for Healing of Memories since 2007. She was one of the founding members of a working group of the Minnesota’s Warrior to Citizen Campaign which has offered the Healing of Memories workshops for veterans since 2009.  She served as Chair of the Institute for Healing of Memories-North America from 2011- 2014 and has been a Healing of Memories workshop facilitator since 2011. Margaret is an Episcopal priest.  She holds a…