Meet the Staff

The Rev. Linda Spiers

Interim Priest-in-Charge

860.767.8095 ext. 12

Linda began her ministry with St. John’s as Interim Priest-in-Charge on August 27, 2019. She grew up in Richmond, Virginia; is a near life-long Episcopalian and has lived in Connecticut since 1991. Linda has an MDiv from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, MBA from the University of Richmond, and BS in Mathematics from Mary Washington College. She has completed classes toward her DMin at Hartford Seminary and still has her final project to complete.


She was ordained to the diaconate in June 2000 and to the priesthood on January 2001, after a number of years in the corporate world where she worked primarily in management and computer technology. She served as Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Collinsville, for 15 years. Prior to being at Trinity, she served at Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford, where she did her Seminarian internship and later served as Curate and Associate for Cathedral Life.


Linda is actively engaged in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut as President of the Title IV Disciplinary Board; convener of the Holy Landers Ministry Network; member of the ECCT Mission Council; Deputy to General Convention; and member of the Racial Healing, Justice and Reconciliation Network. In the town of Collinsville where she resides, she currently serves as Chaplain to the Canton Volunteer Fire Department and as a member of the Juvenile Review Board.


She enjoys reading, getting together with friends, knitting and paddling in her kayak. Travel is also high on her list of things to enjoy, particularly to Israel/Palestine! She is thrilled to be joining the St. John's family for this interim period of transition and to joining/encouraging ministries inside and outside our walls.

The Rev. Benjamin Straley

Assistant Rector

860.767.8095 ext. 13

Fr. Benjamin arrived at St. John’s in August of 2018, and is currently the Assistant Rector. He is a native Midwesterner, having grown up in Ohio and pursuing his undergraduate studies at Indiana University, he began graduate studies at Yale University in 2008 and soon fell in love with the Connecticut shoreline and the greater New England region.


While enrolled at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Benjamin served in various capacities at Trinity Church on the Green (New Haven), Berkeley Divinity School, The Episcopal Church at Yale, and Saint Peter’s in Cheshire. It was during that time that he began to discern a call to the priesthood. From 2012 to 2018 he was Organist & Associate Director of Music for Washington National Cathedral. His appointment to St. John’s marked both his entry into ordained parish ministry and a return to Connecticut.


Perhaps because of his musical and liturgical background, it will come as no surprise that Fr. Benjamin is a self-admitted liturgy and church history geek.  However, he is equally passionate about Christian formation and discipleship.


When at home, Benjamin is an avid cook and baker, with a Barefoot Contessa cookbook most frequently found open on the kitchen counter.  He also delights in the affection of his two cats, Charlie Brown and Linus.​

Chelsea DiDonato

Parish Administrator & Communications Director

860.767.8095 ext. 10

Chelsea holds a B.A. from Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT, where she studied English and Creative Writing. She interned with a non-profit, Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT as a Sunken Garden Poetry Festival Events and Marketing Intern. There, Chelsea mastered implementation of the setup and breakdown of each festival as well as marketed and strategized future events. After graduating, she joined the Communications Department for Community Health Center, Inc. under AmeriCorps in Connecticut, where she handled public relations, social media, and event planning for the underserved communities across the state. She also did many volunteer activities and events with AmeriCorps to help Connecticut residents live a healthier lifestyle. Along with the tools she developed, she gravitated towards community outreach and enjoyed the impact it provided to those in need. That passion led her to St. John’s Episcopal Church where she enjoys being the Parish Administrator and Communications Director to help the Rector and assist in the multiple ministries led by parishioners of St. John’s Church.


In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with Bryan and their red retriever puppy, Cooper, and reading, along with taking the occasional spinning class and meeting parishioners furry friends when they stop by the office!​

Darlene James

Choir Director & Organist

860.767.8095 ext. 17

Darlene has been an organist/music director in Episcopal churches for 37 years, 28 of those years at St. John’s, which means she is the longest-serving member of St. John’s staff. She and her late husband, Roger James, joined St. John’s in 1987 with their two sons, Denman and Reade. Both sons were acolytes and married at St John’s. (Reade is married to our former Associate Rector, Molly). She also fills in at churches in the Wallingford area.


A member of the Hartford and New London AGO (American Guild of Organists) and the Hymn Society (Boston, MA). She began studying organ in New York with Dr. Grady Wilson, continued for many years with Duncan Phyfe and most recently studied with Dr. Mark Brombaugh. She also studied harpsichord with Linda Skernick. She has attended music classes at Westminster Choir College, CCSU, and various summer seminar programs. Darlene has a BFA from Pratt Institute and also works in the Wallingford Public Library at the desk and does artwork and displays for their children’s department. She is an accomplished painter and did the painting of the church that is used in the E-news, church directory and notecards.


Becky Honan

Children & Youth Education Director

860.767.8095 ext. 16

Becky, Shawn, Mitch and Julia Honan joined St. John's in 2001 when they moved to Westbrook from Middletown. Mitch and Julia participated in youth group and Sunday school. They also served at the altar as acolytes, readers, and chalice bearers. Shawn has served as Treasurer, Sunday school teacher and continues as a reader and chalice bearer. 


Becky works part-time as the Christian Education Director, coordinating an amazing group of volunteers who teach the youth of St. John's and who help guide our youth group. Becky is also the nursery liaison, working with the two nursery workers who care for our very youngest members. When not at St. John's, Becky enjoys reading, the outdoors, yoga and spending time with her family. 


Richard Lammlin



Rich and his late wife, Paula, joined St. John’s in 2001 after moving to the area from Cheshire, CT.  Rich began his Episcopal life as a choir boy in the Trinity Church on the Green’s Boys Choir in New Haven in 1954.  Many years later, he served on the Vestry at Trinity and was married there.  When Rich and Paula moved to Cheshire, they belonged to St. Peter’s Church where he served on the vestry and their three sons, Craig, Jim, and David, served as acolytes.  Their three sons became Eagle Scouts, two of them doing their projects for St. Peter’s.


After joining St. John’s, Rich’s wife, Paula, passed away in 2004.  Rich remained active at St. John’s serving as Vice Chair of the Search Committee that called our current Rector and, later, served as a member of the vestry and then as Jr. and Sr. Warden.  Rich has chaired the EMC Committee, has served as a lector, chalicist, acolyte, and a member of the prayer ministry team, and has been Chair of the annual rummage sale for the past several years.  Currently, he serves as the church’s verger and acolyte master.  He has recently been called to serve in a new ministry for The Episcopal Church in CT as a Transition Consultant assisting other churches in their searches for new Rectors. 

Dayle Larson



Dayle Larson began her bookkeeping career 40 years ago at Edwards & Angell Law Firm in Providence, RI. Soon after beginning her career in her home state, a job transfer for her husband, Craig, sent them to Nashville, Tennessee. After four years, they moved back to New England to raise their family in Chester. Dayle and Craig have two daughters, Niki and Kara.


In 1996, Dayle founded her own business, Chester Bookkeeping Service. Three years later, Dayle added Saint John’s Episcopal Church to her list of local clients. Dayle enjoys spending time with her family, and long walks with her yellow Lab, Otis.

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Mailing: PO BOX 422, Essex, CT 06426 | Physical: 3 Cross St, Essex CT, 06426