Selah People

Selah has over 20 Companions engaged in various ways to support and offer the life of Selah to others.  Here is a chance to meet some of the Selah Companions.

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Dr. John Kiemele is the Selah founder and currently serves as the executive director of Selah. From the plains of the Midwest to the urban shores of the Pacific Northwest, John has walked alongside individuals, small groups, classrooms and congregations with transformational education and soul-care in the way of Jesus.  Recognizing how pausing and listening unlocks life, John strives to engage the whole person – body, mind and soul – through spiritual direction, retreats, courses and other companion opportunities.  John received his PhD from Talbot School of Theology (La Mirada, CA), holds certificates in Spiritual Direction, Enneagram Spectrum, and Wellness Coaching, and is an ordained pastor. He enjoys spending time with his wife, hiking, traveling, visiting cathedrals and monasteries, and rummaging through antique shops.

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Mindy Danylak serves as the administrative assistant to the executive director. She is a writer and women’s story group facilitator who brings a varied background to this role with Selah. Woven in with a legal career, teaching abroad, undergraduate mentoring, and cancer patient/family support, Mindy has spent over 20 years meeting with people from sea to sea and around the world as they process themes and moments that story their lives. She is the owner and co-founder of The Front Porch Series, creating boutique style retreats and events for women to share their life stories, rest, and care for one another. Mindy enjoys travel, cooking for friends and family, walking, and reading. She and her husband Jonathan were married in 2003 and her days blend with building train tracks and visiting playgrounds with their young son. Mindy and Jonathan share a draw toward contemplative rhythms, rites of passage, rituals, and ways to meaningfully mark life’s seasons and experiences. She grew up in Walla Walla and they visit there often. Mindy and her family live in Richmond Beach.

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Dr. Troy Fenlason is the current president of the Board of Directors. Troy is a psychologist in private practice. He helps direct Selah as part of the board, leads groups on “Contemplative listening in Community”, and leads seminars for Selah on contemplative and psychological topics. He married a beautiful Swissess and between the two of them they have crossed international borders more times than they can count. They are currently raising a handful of children together in the Seattle area.  Troy has been drawn to Selah and contemplative rhythms in part due to a deep calling from within and in part due to the chaos of large-family life which is delightful in so many ways but also deepens his hunger for sacred stillness. He loves the outdoors, being physically active, and at other times being breathlessly still. He loves to engage the intersection of psychology and theology and thinks the mystics shine a brilliant light on that journey. Troy is intrigued to be a part of what happens with a community that takes time to listen deeply and respond to the presence of the-Divine-in-our-midst-as-God-with-us.

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Mary Pandiani, D.Min, helps direct Selah as a member of the Board of Directors and she facilitates a number of Selah Seminars ranging from Discernment to Contemplative-in-Action. By way of vocation, Mary is a spiritual director, personal/professional development coach, and an instructor for adult education.  By way of relationship, she is a wife, mother, grandmother and friend, as well as a “JIB,” (seeking to be a Jesus-Image-Bearer).  By way of interests, she completed Doctor of Ministry degree exploring contemplative perspectives on aging; she also enjoys playing with her growing puppy, and finds great peace in walking the woods.  She has been part of the Selah community since it first began with a small group searching to find greater intimacy with God.  Through a journey of participating in Living From the Heart, Art of Spiritual Direction, and other contemplative encounters, she values how these fresh expressions help her integrate the heart-soul-mind for a greater freedom in relationship with the Triune God.  By way of Selah, she has learned to pause, notice, listen, savor, and respond to the presence of the Holy Spirit.

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Marilyn Vancil serves on Selah’s Board of Directors, and has been an active member of the Selah community since her participation in the Living from the Heart course offered in 2011-12. She leads seminars on the Enneagram and offers Spiritual Direction and Life Coaching. Her passion and specialty is the Enneagram and its value for those desiring greater freedom in their life with God. Marilyn has written a book on this subject.  She received training as a spiritual director through SoulStream, has been certified as a life coach through Coach Training Alliance, and is a certified Enneagram Narrative Professional by Enneagram Worldwide. Marilyn’s greatest joy is her family, which includes her husband of 45 years, Jeff, their four grown children and spouses, and ten delightful grandchildren.

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Board member Merrie Carson is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) and has served at three churches and on national and local denominational boards.  Merrie is currently the Pastor of Christian Formation and Congregational Life at Midway Community Covenant Church in Des Moines, WA.  Merrie has a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and has a private spiritual direction practice.  She is a member of the ECC’s network of spiritual directors and is a Selah Center Companion.  She received a MCS in Applied Theology from Regent College (Vancouver BC) focusing on adult spiritual formation and a DMin in Leadership and Spiritual Formation from George Fox Evangelical Seminary (Portland OR).  Merrie has developed seminars on congregational discernment and decision making (the subject of her doctoral work) for use in local, regional, and denominational settings.  She is married to Ron and has four children (Emily, Dave, Andy, Rob), six grandchildren (Mattea, Ethan, Samantha, Emma, Daniel, Jack), and two cats (Marble, Carerra).  Her hobbies are reading, theology, gardening, family history research, doing puzzles, music, decorating for holidays, and watercolor painting.

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Board member Jack Grimm was led to the Selah Center through an exploration of contemplative living within a church-sponsored community group. His involvement in Selah’s Living from the Heart training and soul care groups have furthered his desire for a contemplative path and community. Jack’s work in software development management blends well with his interest in effective teams; he finds joy in the teamwork and spiritual discernment the Selah Center board embodies. He shares his home in Edmonds with his wife (Sue) , two teenage sons (Nick and Alex), and one special dog (Choco). Some of his favorite things include ideas, home projects, golf, scuba diving, and a nice glass of wine with friends.

Doreen Olson

Board member Doreen Olson  |  “Like craftsmen working on a great cathedral, we have each been given instruction about the particular stone we are going to spend our lives carving, without knowing or being able to guess where it will take its place within the grand design.”  (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture)

As an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, I have served its 800+ churches in the area of Christian Formation, leading the denomination toward a more whole-istic head, heart, and hands approach to education.  The classic spiritual disciplines, including spiritual direction and contemplative prayer, have been key in making that shift.  I’ve now entered the season that some call retirement and I live in Bellingham, WA.  The ministry of spiritual direction as well as introducing others to ancient and newer forms of contemplative prayer continues to be at the heart of what it means to ‘carve my particular stone’ faithfully and well.  I’ve also found joy in developing a new non-profit called PlayFull, whose mission is to help people and organizations play from the inside out.  A timely and needed focus in our world.  I’m grateful to be part of Selah.  I believe that what we offer contributes beautifully to God’s grand design, bringing a quiet, focused strength to the world.

Edie Finnell found Selah when invited to participate in a SoulCare group.  The gracious listening and peaceful space she experienced and continues to experience in that group have been a welcome rhythm in the striving of daily life.  Edie’s SoulCare group, along with the Living From The Heart cohort, have fostered a way of living that embraces stillness and the discovery of the wonder that rests in the ordinary.  Edie lives in Edmonds WA with her husband Dave and their three young daughters.  Some of her favorite things to do are reading, discovering new children’s literature, exploring the outdoors with her family, and baking bread.

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Mike DeFronzo has been with the Selah community from its early days, has given leadership to Selah as part of the Board of Directors, and has facilitated Selah courses and local soulcare groups.  A life-long student and avid facilitator, Mike has taught Bible studies and classes in both contemplative living and Hebraic perspectives on the Christian faith. He has completed graduate courses in Theology and Biblical Studies from Fuller Northwest and in Spiritual Formation from Carey Theological College, Canada. He enjoys being with family, especially playing with his grandson, playing golf, and the sunshine in southern California, where he currently resides.

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Sandy Anderson is a Selah Companion who formerly served as a Selah board member. She hosts a Soul-Care group in Gig Harbor and provides Spiritual Direction in Gig Harbor, WA, where she lives with her husband, Steve.  They have two adult children and three adult grandchildren.  She was first drawn to contemplative living through her relationship with John Kiemele when he was a pastor at Harbor Covenant Church. She participated in the formation of Selah Center at its conception, eventually serving on its first Board of Directors. She deepened her contemplative journey through taking “Living From the Heart”, continued with “Spiritual Direction Training” through SoulStream, and participates regularly in the experience of Soul-Care groups.   Her joy is mentoring others to the freedom and fullness of contemplative living and loving; and she adores the circus of family and friends, her vegetable garden, tennis, long walks, paddle boarding, and travel adventures.

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Ginny Porterfield served on the Selah Board of Directors from 2009-14 and continues to enjoy and invest herself in Selah relationships as a Selah Companion. She has hosted a weekly Selah Reading Group in her home in Gig Harbor, WA. Ginny has participated in a wide variety of service experiences with her big overflowing heart to give and serve. For most of her career life, Ginny served as a juvenile parole counselor and probation officer. She gave 13 years of volunteer service for Habitat for Humanity, and 17 years for the National Prayer Breakfast. She served on the missions team and leadership at her local church for  15 years. She stepped into many others roles of service, wherever her heart found a need. Once you get to know her you will realize that part of her heart is in the Dominican Republic. If she hasn’t yet, it won’t be long before she invites you to go on mission to help the children there. Ginny is a spark of light in our community that keeps us aware of international needs.

Ginny shares, “In 2010, I took the Selah Living from the Heart course (following 2 1/2 mo. in bed with the Swine Flu & bronchitis).  God was calling me to slow down and take more time with Him.  This course was life transforming to me in drawing me deeper in my personal relationship with Christ.  I now observe that I more fully serve Christ being led by the Holy Spirit and not so much from striving to please Him or trying to ‘fix’ a situation or relationship. The relationships established through my Selah connections nourish my soul and challenge me to continually grow in my daily walk with Jesus, filling me with great JOY!”

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Jim Moats served as President of the Selah Board of Directors from 2009-2015 and continues investing in Selah’s dispersed community as a Selah Companion. Jim lives in Woodway, WA, with Becky his wife of 50 years.  They have three adult children.  Jim has served in leadership roles in the Army, Fortune 500 companies, his own software company, and has led a mission agency working in Central Asia.  Jim has a passion to help whole people lead whole companies for the benefit of all, and for the past 18 years, he has been helping CEOs, Executives and Management Teams learn to pause, listen and reflect.  He loves biking, playing cards, playing with his grandchildren and hanging out with Becky and his friends.

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Diney Ruebel served on the Selah Board of Directors from 2009 to 2015, and continues to inspire the Selah community with her spiritual insights, Haiku, spiritual direction, and sharing their private retreat space called Eaglewood.

Diney shares, “Grace and peace from Camano Island. I describe myself as a contemplative-want-a-be!  This yearning along with my propensity to fool myself, necessitates a visit to my spiritual director every single month.  In 2005, my husband Tom and I realized our dream to provide sacred sanctuary for one pastor and/or spouse at a time.  Our desire rose from Tom’s relationship with his best friend who was a pastor and my experiences as an ordained pastor.  EagleWood, the retreat space on our property, is now available to anyone desiring safety in which to watch and listen for the presence of God in the complications of life.  It is also where I offer spiritual direction rooted in the Christian tradition informed by the scriptures and other resources that shape that tradition.  Some days you might find me digging in the ‘dirt’ on our property, or playing duplicate bridge with my husband or creating outdoor art with my granddaughter.   Each day I attempt to write a Haiku that helps take me down to the ‘bones of the moment.’ The process is one way I hope to circumvent my analytical mind while allowing the Spirit to find a ‘chink’ into my heart.  I am learning to be contemplative with you!”

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Becky Moats is a Selah Companion who has invested much heart and time in building the Selah community.  Her gracious heart for hospitality has prompted her to host a centering prayer group with her husband, Jim, offer contemplative workshops and also spiritual direction (Becky completed SoulStream’s training course).  Becky and Jim have also become immersed in Seattle’s Recovery Cafe ministries.  Becky lives in Woodway, WA, with Jim, and they have three grown children and two wonderful grandchildren. She especially enjoys walking with her beloved Cavachon, Bella, and riding electric bike with Jim all around the state.

Christine Tellinghuisen

Christine Tellinghuisen is a Selah Companion who has volunteered in various capacities over the years to nurture community growth among Selah’s Companions and friends. She has taken “Living From the Heart” several times (we believe she holds the record!) and is an active member of a Selah online SoulCare Group.  Christine has been a long-time supporter of Selah and has created and led workshops geared toward the 12-Step Community and those seeking a Conscious Contact with God.  Christine was instrumental in founding the Selah quarterly Newsletter and continues to invest her time and energies in these regular communiques.  Originally from Southern California, Christine lived in the Pacific Northwest for 17 years, and currently lives in Mesa, AZ…which highlights our community description of being “dispersed.”  She enjoys kayaking, hiking, exploring those “roads less traveled” and cooking, just to name a few.

If you like what you have been experiencing through Selah, please considering offering your time, skills, and resource to the greater community by contacting Selah  or donating to Selah below.