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/ 8 December 2011

New Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, has announced that the Reverend Canon Dr Samuel Wells has been appointed as the next Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the much-loved church in Trafalgar Square.

Sam, who will take up the post in the summer of 2012, is currently Dean of the Chapel and a Research Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke University in North Carolina, USA, where he leads a staff of 25 in upholding the Chapel’s reputation for preaching, music and liturgy, oversees the 35 campus ministers and is the regular preacher at the year-round Sunday services, which regularly attract a congregation of around 900.

Sam began his career as curate at St Luke’s, Wallsend in 1991 where he completed research for his Ph.D. in Christian Ethics at Durham University. He became Priest-in-Charge at St Elizabeth’s North Earlham in Norwich in 1997, where he helped to form the first community-led development trust in the East of England.

In his current post at Duke, Sam has continued to work with those in need, including through a particular ministry with those affected by gun violence; experiences outlined in his co-authored book Living Without Enemies. Sam’s experience in helping the vulnerable will be invaluable at St. Martin In the Fields, which is committed to care, particularly for homeless and vulnerable people through initiatives such as the Connection at St Martin’s and the St Martin’s annual Christmas Appeal, which had its 2011 launch on Radio Four this week and is now in its 85th year.

Sam is a well-known theologian and spiritual writer. He is the author and editor of 17 books, including God’s Companions (shortlisted for the Michael Ramsey Award), Power and Passion (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book in 2007), and, most recently, What Anglicans Believe, an introduction to the faith of the Church of England, and a second book of sermons, Be Not Afraid.

Sam is married to the Revd Dr Jo Bailey Wells and they have two children. The family will be taking up residence in the vicarage in the early summer. Richard Carter and Katherine Hedderly will continue to work together as priests-in-charge until Sam joins the parish.

The institution service by the Bishop of London is expected to take place on 2 July 2012.

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, said:

"I am delighted that Sam Wells is coming to St Martin-in-the-Fields. It is a church which stands on a World Square and I believe that Sam, with his experience enhanced by his work at Duke, is exactly the person we need to build on the great tradition of St Martin’s of reaching beyond the walls of the church to a complex world of need and opportunity".

Dr Wells said:

"St Martin’s is at the crossroads of London and the world, of faith and action, of social justice and the arts, of tradition and innovation, of commerce and charity, of political and personal struggle. It has long been a place where the Holy Spirit goes looking to experiment, where the communion of saints is present in awesome diversity, where Jesus regularly turns up in the face of friend and stranger.

"It’s hard to think of a more exciting vantage point from which to envisage what church and witness mean. It is a great honour to be invited to join this dynamic ministry."

Churchwarden Rod Beadles said:

"Sam’s rich and varied experience, alongside his theological depth and integrity, make him ideal to be Vicar of St Martin’s. We are looking forward to welcoming him."


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The diocesan communications team provides support to the network of clergy, churches, parishes and other worshipping communities that comprises the Diocese of London, as well as to the staff teams of the London Diocesan Fund.

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