2019 – Lutherhostel – A Desert Sojourn

March 3, 2019 - March 8, 2019

Join Us for a Desert Sojourn in March 2019!

For 20 years, Spirit in the Desert has been host to an exceptional “Lutherhostel” week of worship, learning, and fellowship. As one of Spirit’s most well-known and popular retreats, it is a beloved time to be immersed in powerful worship experiences, dive into challenging topics led by outstanding teachers, and deepen commitments to renew one’s calling in the 3rd chapter of life.

By 2009, these events were so popular that we added a second week, enabling more retreatants to participate. In addition to retired lay and clergy participants, those still working have taken off time to attend the event as continuing education or as an opportunity for spiritual renewal. 

Now the focus of these retreats continues to broaden in an effort to include and invite a more ecumenical audience. In 2019, there will again be two weeks of programming offered:

  • Week 1–more intentionally ecumenical in focus.
  • Week 2–a stronger Lutheran focus.

Of course, Lutherans and other adults of all ages are welcome to register for either or both weeks!


Week 1: Sun, March 3 to March 8

Led by Dan Spencer – Deep Time: Sojourning with the Universe Story

Dan is a Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Montana in Missoula, and is particularly interested in the intersection of religious faith, ecology, and environmental ethics.  Dan grew up in the Roman Catholic tradition, became an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, and is a member of a Lutheran church in Missoula Montana. He was on the staff at the Center for Global Education at Augsburg College, and also taught Philosophy and Religion at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. He is an outstanding teacher–popular favorite of students at U of Montana–and a veteran presenter at Holden Village Retreat Center in Washington State.

Guiding Theme: Deep Time: Sojourning with the Universe Story…The week’s sessions will be built around what we are learning about the emergence of the Universe over the past 13+ billion years, and the Earth’s place and emergence of Life in that.  How do we contemplate the meaning and implications of “Deep Time?”  How do the origins and rhythms of the universe as revealed by contemporary science shed light on biblical and spiritual themes, and what might this story offer to help us address the complex array of global issues we confront today, from global warming to species extinction?  Together we’ll explore some of the mysteries and features of our evolving universe and think about how these dynamics are woven into the very core of our existence as creatures of the Earth.

Session I:  Deep Time I: A Communion of Subjects: The Journey of the Universe…This session will introduce Thomas Berry’s notion of the Universe Story and its implications for its human members at this time.  We’ll watch the first part of the documentary The Journey of the Universe produced by Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker that narrates the nearly 14 billion year history of our evolving universe as contemporary science makes available to us.  We’ll look at the formation of the Earth and our solar system, and trace how life has emerged as a central part of Earth’s story. Then we’ll discuss together what this new – and very ancient – story might mean for us today.

Session II: Deep Time II: The Journey of the Universe, Part 2…In this session, we’ll finish watching The Journey of the Universe documentary, looking at the emergence of animals and the human origin story.  With the emergence of human beings and our capacity for abstract and symbolic thinking, the universe now has a member capable of reflecting on itself and discerning meaning in the universe and human stories.  What are the implications of this for people of faith and for the Earth itself at this time?

Session III: Deep Time III: Climate Change, Faith & Ethics: Living On, With, and Like the Earth…Deep Time and geology reveal that the Earth’s climate has changed dramatically over the course of its history – yet for billions of years the Earth has self-regulated its climate to keep it within the bounds necessary to support life.  Today one member of the Earth community – humans – is fundamentally altering Earth’s biology, geology and atmosphere, threatening the continued existence of many life forms.  We’ll look at this phenomenon and raise questions about how we might best respond to climate change challenges today.

Session IV: Deep Time IV: Biomimicry: Learning from Life’s Deep History to Adapt to Global Challenges Today…The study of fossils   throughout Deep Time reveals a history of life in its amazing diversity adapting to radically different environments across billions of years.  What can we learn from these different “design strategies” about how we humans can adapt to our changing environments in ecologically sustainable ways?  The emerging field of Biomimicry studies life’s adaptive designs to help us address these critical challenges, including how to respond to climate change in ecologically sustainable ways.

Music & Worship Both Weeks led by Mary Preus and Tom Witt 

Mary has worked as the music director and song leader at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis since 1991. She is also the worship and music coordinator for the ecumenical Community of St. Martin and the artistic director of Minnesota Community Sings, working to build the culture of community public singing in Minnesota.  Tom is a  Minneapolis-based keyboardist, worship leader, song-leader and worship planner.  He is the music coordinator at United Theological Seminary in the Twin Cities, and also serves part-time on the chapel music staff at Luther Seminary. Both Mary and Tom co-founded Bread for the Journey, an ensemble which is committed to encouraging congregational singing, sharing music with theological integrity, and helping music ministers to inspire the community’s song and serve the community’s prayer.

Begins 3pm Sunday check-in, 6pm dinner. Ends with Lunch at Noon on Friday.

Package costs below are per/person and include: 15 meals, 5 nights lodging, conference room, program, tuition. Off-campus excursions are not included.

$945 – Private Room w/ Bath; $475 deposit required.

$810 – Shared Room w/ Bath; $475 deposit required.

$465 – Commuter, includes everything except lodging

IMPORTANT INFO: We are out of space for early arrivals/late departures or rooms in-between each week. If you want to attend both weeks, or arrive early/stay a day after, you will need to find lodging. When you call we can assist you with options for this. If space does open up, we will post this to the website immediately.

Cancellation Policy: Full refunds of deposit/payment less 15% handling fee, will be given up to 90 days before the event. After 90 days, no refunds are given. We do expect a waiting list for these events. Should we be able to replace a cancellation (exact exchange) a full refund less 15% handling fee will be given.

To register, please call our Program & Development Director, Cyndy Warnier, at (480) 488-5218, or email: [email protected]

Categories: Lifelong Learning  |  Music  |  Retreats