Pastor Darlene Avery, aka “RevDar,” was born in Germany as a military “brat.” She moved over 10 times in her first 18 years around the United States and in Germany twice. Her earliest spiritual development was as part of ecumenical chapel worship and education; her baptism certificate says "Protestant.” She was raised in a Christian family respectful of other cultures and faiths.
Darlene was also nurtured in her passion for music and arts, and started college as an oboe major at the University of Illinois. Due to family tragedy and her father’s death from Huntington’s Disease (which would also claim her only sister’s life years later) she worked her way through Liberal Arts undergraduate studies at DePaul University through her 20s. During that time, she leveraged her intercultural skills into working as an administrator in international programs at the University of Chicago. She found an activist United Methodist congregation in Chicago that partnered with nearby UCC and Lutheran congregations on mission work. It was there that her curiosity was nurtured to commitment and a call to minister to people suffering in body, mind and spirit. She entered cooperative graduate Divinity and Social Work degree programs at the Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver, which brought her to Colorado. As she learned more about denominational polities and persuasions, she realized that the UCC was her "tribe" and transitioned her ministerial standing; it was like coming home.
During her ministerial career, Pastor Darlene has worked in UCC churches in Colorado and Utah. In the past she was involved in La Foret retreat and camp ministry for youth and adults. For much of her career she has worked in healthcare ministry and counseling, including hospitals, hospice and private counseling practice. Throughout her years in chaplaincy and counseling she continued to serve in church work both in education and care roles in her local church and as a supply pastor. She covered vacations, sabbaticals and interim periods for Church in the Wildwood for 10 years before God finally saw fit to bring them together permanently in July 2019.
In 2018, Pastor Darlene celebrated her 20th anniversary of ordination in the United Church of Christ. In the same ceremony, Church in the Wildwood celebrated 130 years in ministry!
Darlene has few living relatives, but her small family is very close. Her husband, the Rev. Derek Krehbiel, is also ordained in the UCC and an LCSW. He is a full-time chaplain/social worker. Monte, their “fur baby,” is a 90 pound brown dog adopted through the Colorado Cell Dog program, where prison inmates become dog trainers and rehabilitate shelter dogs. Darlene’s mother, Mary Anne Calkins, is an integral member of their family, as is her little dog Zoey, a 3-legged, 11-lb terrier/Chihuahua mix, Monte’s best friend.