Dr. David Tiede became acquainted with Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center in the 1990’s while attending meetings at the center with the presidents of Lutheran seminaries when he was professor of New Testament studies and President of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He said, “The retreat center was a great place for productive meetings. I saw huge potential for the retreat center as an anchor Lutheran institution in the Southwest, but that potential was just being discovered.”
In 2010, David was asked to join the Board of Directors as Chair. At the time, Spirit in the Desert was struggling with the financial impact of the 2008 recession that had reduced attendance and financial donations. Also, the mission and vision of the center needed to be clarified as the Executive Director and Board sought to implement the organization’s strategic direction.
The board meetings were difficult, and a critical point, during one of the meetings, a board member, Bob Ravenscroft, expressed his deep feelings about the importance and value of Spirit in the Desert. Speaking with deep conviction, he said to the members of the board, “This is a holy place.” He also provided significant business counsel and generous investments to restructure the Center’s mortgage, providing financial breathing room to continue operating and develop popular programs and retreats.
The board has continued its “deep and wide” work of clarifying the mission of the Center “as a holy place where people experience hospitality and renew their callings in the world,” and, at the same time, developing financial stability for the Center.
The strategic planning process has also formulated a measurable vision: “Spirit in the Desert plans to double the number of guests of all faiths who will experience renewal, reconciliation, healing, and transformation.” Happily, that vision is being realized and the number of people participating at the retreat center is significantly increasing.
Asked about Spirit in the Desert’s role in our current cultural polarization and community stress, David said, “Centered in our Lutheran Christian faith, we are committed to Jesus’ radical hospitality. We welcome people of all faiths or no faith. We are confident that in this holy place God will renew people’s callings in the world God so loves. God is up to something good at Spirit in the Desert and we are grateful to be a part of it.”