The Rev. Scott Denman, Founder and President
A native of Colorado, Scott Denman has always loved building things. After graduating from Colorado College, Scott headed for New England, where he earned an MTS from Harvard Divinity School in 1981. Setting aside thoughts of the church, he instead focused on creating a successful career as an independent building contractor in the Boston area and raising his young family.
A call to the church can be delayed but not denied, however, and in 1992 Scott collected his M.Div. from Gordon-Cromwell Seminary. After an additional year of study at the Episcopal Divinity School, Scott was named a Cox Fellow and worked on the staff of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. In 1996 he was called as Rector of St. John’s Church, Oakland, CA, the position he still holds.
During Scott’s time at St. John’s the parish has flourished, growing in size, income and outreach. A major building project is underway (we told you he loves to build things) and the parish is increasingly involved in local, national and international programs. Scott’s passion for the past several years has been community organizing in the Bay Area and he currently serves as Co-Chair of the Genesis Interfaith Regional Project. The CnC program has been strongly influenced by his interest in community action.
Kellor Smith, Director of Education
A 5th generation Californian, Kellor Smith loves her work with youth and their families. Coming from a childhood of divorce and blended families long before it was cool, she was grateful for her family and the wonderful adult friends who taught her the importance of relationships with each other and with God.
With a double major in Child Psychology and Children’s Television from Mills College in Oakland, California, she set out to help reach youth through media. She wrote language arts curriculum for the Oakland and Richmond Public Schools based on national TV shows and worked for local TV stations. Yet God had other plans. Kellor was drawn into ministry for children and youth. As a paid lay person on staff, she has continued to work for over 25 years at St John’s Episcopal Church in Oakland, California. “With new kids every year it never gets dull.”
Her mission statement is to have children and youth build, understand, respond to, and incorporate into their lives a relationship with God that is transformative to them and others. She has done this through hands-on leadership and development of programs in church school, youth ministry, parent and youth education programs, confirmation (CnC) and outreach. In 2006, she led a mission trip of 34 youth to New Orleans to help in the rebuilding of the city and led trips to Puerto Rico and Washington State in 2008 and 2010. She will be returning to New Orleans with a new group of youth this summer
She and her husband have a son who loves pirates and a daughter who loves gymnastics. She loves sleep.
The Rev. Molly Darling, Executive and Creative Director
Born and raised in the small town of Painted Post, NY, Molly Darling has made a career out of having careers. Her first career – politics – began with her first campaign work at the age of 7 and continued for the next two decades. As a student she worked for a member of the House, a member of the Senate, multiple local campaigns and one presidential campaign. After graduating from Haverford College, she took a job with a hometown congressional campaign that, when her candidate won, sent her to Washington as a congressional speechwriter. It was in Washington that she attended a church service for the very first time and, a few years later, was confirmed.
Molly began her second career – business – when she left Washington to study at Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Having earned an MBA in 1993, she accepted a job as a management consultant with a small firm in Boston, where her clients would range from GEICO to the National Youth Science Camp. A parishioner of Trinity Church, she would attend a number of services involving the newly-ordained Scott Denman, though neither remembers ever seeing the other there!
When Molly’s firm assigned her to a pro-bono project for the Episcopal Church, she felt God was getting remarkably unsubtle about her call to a third career. She gave in and headed west to attend seminary at CDSP, where she would earn her MDiv in 1999. While in school, she did her field work at St. John’s, Oakland and then served as its Associate Rector until 2010. She is the author of the CnC materials and curriculum and also developed the Adult version of the CnC program.
Molly continues to work as an independent management consultant, which leaves her little time for thinking up any more careers.
Laura Darling, Managing Director
A California East Bay native, Laura Darling has snuck away from time to time, mostly to Ohio. The first time was to attend Oberlin College where she received a degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis. Though she started out as a Music Education major, she decided that she didn’t want to teach junior high school band and went with a much quieter and more contemplative degree. Finding that writing poetry didn’t pay the bills, however, she headed further east to Rochester, NY, where she received a degree in Educational Interpreting from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
After working for five years as an interpreter, she finally gave in to the call to priesthood she had been feeling since becoming an Episcopalian in college. Returning to California, she received her MDiv from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 2001. Her path then led her back to Ohio where she founded the Episcopal chaplaincy at Kenyon College. Drawn once again by the siren song of the balmy Bay Area, she served as the Assistant Rector at Christ Church in Alameda for four years, encouraging the growth and development of its youth program, including the Riled Marmot Film Festival.
In 2008, she was selected as a Kiva Fellow and worked in Kampala, Uganda for three months, helping local microfinance institutions to receive funding for microloans through the Kiva web platform. While there, she was invited to join the St. John’s staff as the Interim Director of CnC, a position that plays to her strengths as an administrator. She became the Managing Director when Confirm not Conform became an independent non-profit in 2009.
In addition to Confirm not Conform, Laura is also a Celebrity Blogger for Lent Madness (the term "celebrity" is used very loosely). Back in the Bay Area once more, she has no plans to leave.