In the Spring of 2006, after intriguing conversations with a variety of people about spiritual formation in ordinary living and particularly the shared desire to grow in contemplative dimensions of the Christian life, John Kiemele sensed the vision for a “center.” By August of 2006, 25 people, including friends from SoulStream Initiatives of Abbotsford, BC, Canada, gathered in John’s Gig Harbor home to hear the seed-vision and committed to pray on a regular basis as the vision began to unfold. In December of 2006, a Leadership Team emerged that began learning about and experiencing contemplative living, and also hammering out some organizational details around what was to become officially known as Selah Center by October of 2007. The name “Selah Center” emerged from the rarely used Biblical word, “selah,” found most often in the book of the Psalms. In that context, the most common definition suggests “selah” pertains to pausing and giving thoughtful, meaning-filled consideration to what has been heard or sung. Pausing…meditating…contemplation…hmmm….this seemed fitting for this unfolding vision. A Board of Directors was formed as well as a team of regular facilitators. Originally comprised of men and women mainly from Gig Harbor, these teams now have expanded to include others from the greater Puget Sound area.
The purpose of Selah Center is to invite all people to pause, and to cultivate contemplative experiences with Jesus leading to inner freedom and loving service. In short, Selah Center invites people to pause and learn to savor life in the way of Jesus as it was meant to be. The heartbeat of the Selah Center is to nurture contemplative experiences with Jesus in community and share resources and companions leading to inner freedom and loving service.
Beginning in January of 2008, Selah Center launched several regular experiences such as Spiritual Direction, Retreats, Reading Groups, Selah Prayers, Courses and Seminars. Selah Center filed an application for its 501c3 non-profit tax-free status with the IRS in September of 2008, and received this privilege by December of that same year (you have to ask about the story behind the Selah goblet below!). By July of 2009 we began renting a day-time drop-in facility at 3419 Harborview Drive in Gig Harbor where dedicated volunteers helped ready the facility to host individuals and groups in this welcoming, peace-filled space at the harbor’s edge. A website was developed to communicate the happenings of Selah Center (www.selahcenter.org).
In January of 2010, we experienced a transition called “Selah Stretch” when founder and executive director John Kiemele faced his family’s relocation away from Gig Harbor. By September of 2010, Selah Center was offering its unique invitation in both Gig Harbor and in north Seattle locations. After several months of discernment, the Board of Directors voted to cease renting a facility in Gig Harbor and began the transition from an emphasis on programs to an emphasis on being a community of contemplatives with a focus on two initiatives: contemplative living resources and community formation.
We are excited to watch God continue growing the resources and community of Selah as we companion people throughout the Puget Sound. To God be all the glory!