JourneyMates, a locally accessible Christian soul care and spiritual formation ministry, is designed to open time and space for Christians to simply be with God and to notice and respond to God’s presence and invitation within and around them.

JM began with the vision of gathering like-hearted Christians together around the shared desire and intention to be prayerfully present, attentive and authentic with and through the presence of the Triune God in Christ.

That vision, held by founders Jennifer Ennis and Sally Breedlove, led to the first JourneyMates Community of 25 women forming in 2006. They were joined in volunteer leadership by Mary Vandel Young in 2007 and added a second JourneyMates Community of men and women in 2008. Today, JourneyMates comprises six JourneyMates Communities in and around Raleigh, NC, and five JourneyMates Area Ministries in Omaha, NE, Edenton, NC, Virginia Beach, VA, Greenwich, CT, and our newest JourneyMates Area in Atlanta, GA. JourneyMates engages with over 400 participants yearly through JourneyMates Communities, JourneyMates Retreats and JourneyMates Facilitator Training.

In January of 2012 the JourneyMates Board of Trustees was named, and JourneyMates became a non-profit, 501C3 entity, with Mary Vandel Young serving as Executive Director. At that time the following Vision, Mission and Core Values were established to guide the ministry of JourneyMates:

  • Vision – To glorify the Triune God and grow in trusting him in all of life by making space for Christians to notice and respond to God’s presence and invitation within and around us.
  • Mission – To provide contemplative settings where spiritual disciplines are modeled and practiced in Christian community.
  • Core Values – Authority of Scripture – Silence and Solitude – Prayerful Presence, Attentiveness and Authenticity – Four Movements of the Soul: Upward, Inward, Among and Outward – Spiritual Friendship – Orthodox Christian Faith -Traditional Spiritual Disciplines – Mystery of God – Whole Person: Mind, Body, Soul – Humbly recognize JourneyMates plays one part in God’s Kingdom plan.
  • JourneyMates Why – Christians need time and space to simply be with Jesus.

JourneyMates Ministry leaders are seeking to listen to God and respond to Him as He leads us in growing other JourneyMates Ministries and Christian spiritual formation resources.

We seek God in being faithful and responsible in passing on what we have received from God through JourneyMates. Most of all we want to be faithful to the Triune God, so that anything he has allowed us to create would be to the praise of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Read more about our vision and history

Ministry Overview for 24-25 year

Who we are

Mary Vandel Young
Executive Director

Mary Vandel Young’s passion for transformational ministry and soul care has guided her participation, study, leadership and ministry in the area of Christian spiritual formation for more than 20 years. God blessed Mary’s life with JourneyMates in 2006 when she and her husband, Jason, moved to the Raleigh area. A year later, JM Founders, Jennifer Ennis and Sally Breedlove, invited Mary to join them in leading JourneyMates. Mary has served as JourneyMates Executive Director since 2012 when JourneyMates became a non-profit ministry.

In addition to her work with JourneyMates, Mary ministers as a spiritual director, teacher in the Raleigh Fellows program and retreat leader, teacher and speaker. Raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Mary graduated from Baylor University in 1990. She served on Young Life staff nationally and internationally until 2000 and completed a M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2003.

Mary and her husband, Dr. Jason Young, a psychologist, have two teenage sons, Luke and Tobias, and a precious Shi-Tzu named Petey.

Wendy Simmons
Associate Director

Wendy grew up in Winston-Salem, NC but headed to College of Charleston, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.  There she met her husband, Daniel. After graduation they served together on staff with Campus Outreach college ministry for six years, which eventually brought them back to NC.  Wendy then entered into the world of non-profit work in 2014 as the Child Sponsorship Coordinator for Help One Now, an international community development organization.  After that she dabbled in Real Estate assisting Sales Agents from 2018 until the beginning of this year.  Throughout these experiences, her heart for people and for solid, life-changing counseling has only grown. Wendy has a Biblical Counseling certificate from CCEF and is currently chipping away at a masters degree. 

Wendy discovered JourneyMates in 2021 through a long-shot recommendation from an out of town high school friend, and has loved it deeply ever since!  She has enjoyed participating in contemplative practices and believes these sacred moments in Journeymates have undoubtedly brought about a restorative season in her faith.  Wendy is beyond excited to bring her gifting and skill-set for project management and love of creating systems to aid JourneyMates in thriving, growing and ministering to many, both in the Triangle and beyond.

When not creating a spreadsheet, you’ll find her spending time with her friends and three energetic teens, trying out a new restaurant, heading to a concert, playing pickleball with her small group or just simply being outside.  She also loves to read fiction books while snuggling with her goldendoodle Cash.  Wendy and her family attend The Summit Church in Raleigh.


Jennifer Ennis
Founder and Trustee

God has given Jennifer Ennis a passion to connect with people on their spiritual journeys in their life context to awaken a greater awareness of God’s presence in their lives and help them more deeply experience the joy and freedom of His unconditional love. That passion led to her becoming one of the two co-founders of JourneyMates in 2006.

Since 1975, she has served with her husband, Ralph, on Navigator Staff. They have ministered on college campuses and in leadership development in the US, Russia and other countries. In the 1990’s she, with others, did cultural research in seven countries to better understand how to bring the Gospel into those contexts. She has co-authored various works  including: The Shame Exchange, Pray for Your City, An Introduction to the Russian Soul, and Alcoholism and Family Systems for Russian.

Jennifer is a psychiatric nurse who counsels individuals. She is also a certified spiritual director and leads contemplative retreats. She and Ralph live in Raleigh, NC and have four married children and twelve grandchildren.



Carrie Alspaugh

Carrie has had the privilege of being part of the Journeymates community since 2007. Through Journeymates, she has experienced God’s presence in her life and, especially in her companions at Journeymates, by walking and growing with openness and honesty toward God and each other. Her family has hosted some Mornings Apart for Journeymates.

After moving five times as a child, her family settled in Raleigh in the 1970s. She went to UNC-Chapel Hill for her undergraduate, medical and public health degrees and enjoys practicing dermatology in Raleigh and Cary at Blue Ridge Dermatology Associates. Carrie is interested in faith and health and is presently learning more about that at Duke Divinity’s program on Theology and Healthcare.

Carrie is thankful for her husband of 35 years, Andy Alspaugh, and her three daughters, whom she adores. She has attended Church of the Apostles since it opened. Gardening, reading, Pilates, swimming, walking, extended family and friends bring joy to her life along with an occasional trip.


Sally Breedlove

Sally is a co-founder of JourneyMates, a contemplative small group ministry that invites people to connect intimately with the Triune God by making space in their everyday lives. She presently serves as a trainer and supervisor for JourneyMates and as guest faculty with Selah, Leadership Transformations’ training program for spiritual directors.

As a spiritual director, teacher, and retreat leader, her heart delight is helping people learn to notice, trust, and follow Jesus. Sally is the author of Choosing Rest (NavPress) and one of the authors of The Shame Exchange (NavPress). Sally and her husband Steve, who serves as a bishop in the Anglican Church in North America, live their life together in the rich context of five married children and fourteen grandchildren.

[email protected]


John G. Wilson

John was born in Arlington, VA but after graduating from NC State with a degree in Civil Engineering, he married his wife, Barbara and they have been in Raleigh ever since. John worked at Southern Industrial Constructors in Raleigh for 39 years before retiring as President and CEO. 

He has held various board roles for many nonprofits in the area such as Habitat for Humanity, Step-Up Ministries, Camp Oak Hill and others. John also holds many roles and volunteers regularly at his church, Church of the Apostles. He began attending JourneyMates in 2016 and is currently a part of the men’s community. 

John enjoys golfing, boating, and fishing at Atlantic Beach in his spare time, but more than anything he loves spending his time with his family, especially his 5 grandchildren!

Mary Dee Smith
Vice Chair

Mary Dee is a native of Raleigh where she returned after schooling, career and marriage took her to various places. She spent three years at The Madeira School in McLean, Virginia for high school, Wake Forest University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, followed by a Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from UNC-Chapel Hill. Mary Dee completed her Clinical Fellowship in Speech-Language Pathology at The Kennedy Krieger Institute, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University Hospital. She enjoyed continuing her work with young children with speech and language disabilities in Charlotte, North Carolina. After having children, Mary Dee felt called to stay home with them and was led to several different Bible studies over the years that catered to the needs of young children and young mothers. Once her children were all in school full-time, she accepted the invitation to join JourneyMates where she has been a member for the past 8 years. For the last two years, she has been a host for the Midtown Raleigh Friday Morning Community Group.

Mary Dee is a member of Holy Trinity Anglican Church where she has enjoyed being a leader of Alpha, a mentor for New City Fellows, as well as a facilitator for a young women’s weekly Bible study. Opening her home and studying God’s word has become a joy for Mary Dee over the years as she also hosts and facilitates the weekly Bible study for the parent volunteer group (Friends) of St. David’s School.

Mary Dee and her husband Mike have three children – two in college and one in high school at St. David’s School in Raleigh. They love to travel and enjoy these ages and stages with their children.

Nancy Crowell

Nancy has participated in JourneyMates since 2010 and is privileged to currently host the Durham JM community. Nancy’s experience includes leadership in women’s Bible studies and healing prayer ministries. Her passion is spiritual formation and walking with others as they grow into more fully trusting Jesus in all aspects of their lives. Nancy’s background as a nurse includes working as a nurse practitioner in endocrinology in Raleigh and 10 years as an assistant professor at UNC CH School of Nursing. She currently serves with the prayer ministry at All Saints Anglican Church and volunteers at The Samaritan Health Center in Durham as an NP.

She and Peter have lived in Durham for over 30 years. They love spending time with their children and grandchildren as well as traveling, gardening, reading, and having great conversations over delicious meals with friends and church family.

Zane Creamer
Board Chair

The influence of Richard Foster and Dallas Willard in 2009 dramatically re-oriented Zane’s world as she eagerly began pursuit of the “with-God” life personally and with others.  After completing the Renovaré Institute in 2013, she received her spiritual direction certification from Richmont Graduate University in 2015. An MA in Spiritual Direction and Formation followed in 2017.

She was on the pastoral staff of Crossroads Fellowship for 13 years as Women’s Minister, retiring in 2015.  Her involvement with Renovaré continues as part of the faculty of Renovaré Institute. 

She has appreciated the local community of JourneyMates since 2013 as a participant, facilitator and community leader.

Widowed in March, 2020 after 38 years of marriage, Zane is adjusting to a new phase of life.  From a home base in Raleigh, NC she maintains connection with her far-flung three grown sons, a dear daughter-in-law and precious grandson.  Daily delight is provided by Echo, her loving cavapoo!

Frank Shell

Frank grew up in Raleigh, NC and received his bachelor’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and his MBA from Wake Forest University. He paused his career with BB&T to attend seminary at Columbia Bible College in Columbia, SC before returning to BB&T in Raleigh, and is now retired after 38 years in the banking industry.  

He began his involvement with JourneyMates in 2009 and was a founding board member when the ministry incorporated.   He is currently a Community Leader and a Facilitator in two JourneyMates Communities. 

Frank and his wife Terri recently began the Selah Certificate Program in Spiritual Direction through Leadership Transformations, Inc.   Frank and Terri are members of the Church of the Apostles Anglican Church where he serves on the Leadership Council and Worship Team. 

Chris Schutte

Chris, an Arizona native, majored in History and Classics at the University of Arizona in Tucson, then earned his Master of Divinity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary near Boston in 2001. There he met his wife, Tracy, and recognized God’s call to ordination in the Anglican church. He served as Assistant Rector in two Episcopal churches in Arizona for five and a half years, during which time his three children, Owen, Anna, and Claire, were born. From 2007 to 2018 he was Rector of Christ Church Anglican in Phoenix. He taught Biblical Hebrew and Greek at Fuller Theological Seminary.

In the fall of 2018, he accepted the call to serve as rector of All Saints Church in Durham. He loves to read, watch baseball, walk, run, and, occasionally, watch a movie.

Laney Wright
Operations Manager

Laney grew up in Raleigh, NC and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from North Carolina State University before completing her Masters Degree in Professional School Counseling from Appalachian State University. Before coming on staff with JourneyMates, Laney worked as a High School Guidance Counselor and as an Executive Assistant.

Laney served as a Young Life leader for over nine years alongside her husband, Graham, who currently serves as the Area Director for North Raleigh Young Life. Laney and her family attend Vision Church. She enjoys thrift shopping, exercising, and spending time with her family and friends.

Laney resides in Raleigh with her husband and their three children, Millie, Thomas and Isaiah.

Jen Whipple
Program Manager

In January of 2018 Durham, N.C. became Jen’s latest address as her husband, Mark, responded to a new pastoral call which brought her back to Tarheel country.  It felt like coming home as Jen went to UNC-Chapel Hill for college and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and Spanish.  While teaching during the day and singing in a band at night, she met her husband Mark.  They married in Durham and soon moved to Philadelphia where Jen worked as a project manager while Mark went to seminary.  Upon graduation they moved to Asheville, N.C. and began a family. 

During sixteen years of ministry and mountain air, Jen took on a variety of roles from mom to worship leader to aquatic fitness instructor.  However, it was in her role as a pastor’s wife that the gift of solitude and silence became deep and necessary nourishment for her soul.  Jen joined the Durham community in the fall of 2018 and is currently serving as facilitator.  She joined JourneyMates staff in October of 2020.

Jen is a member of Church of the Good Shepherd in Durham, N.C.  She loves dark coffee, making music, being outside and open-ended questions at large farm tables…especially ones that include her husband’s barbacoa tacos and her four teenage children.

JourneyMates Facilitator Training Conference February 2024

JourneyMates is supported by more than 70 volunteers who serve as JM Community Leaders,

Supervisors, Facilitators, Facilitators-in-Training and Venue Hosts.


Mailing Address: PO Box 97244, Raleigh, NC 27624; Physical Address: 7900 Old Deer Trail, Raleigh, NC 27615