Sam was curate at a church only a mile away from where I was a curate back in the 1990s. I never met him but I did know his vicar because he was one of the early Affirming Catholics. Since then, Sam has gone on to be a really big fish, internationally known and respected by the big wig fish in the Anglican Communion. Me, although I'm internationally known, with a bigger weekly congregation than even Sam can boast, I don't even have a licence to officiate in the Church of England anymore because of the complete lack of respect the big wig fish have for me and my abilities as a priest.
I realise I am being bitter and jealous, so there's no need to tell me.
The Revd Canon Dr Samuel Wells joins the community of St Martin-in the-Fields as Vicar in a service of Collation and Induction on Monday 2 July at 6.30pm. This service, conducted by the Bishop of London and the Archdeacon of Charing Cross, marks the end of twelve-month interregnum and the beginning of a new chapter in the remarkable story of this vibrant and world-renowned church.
Inspirational priest, author and community advocate Dr Wells follows in the footsteps of an inspiring and pioneering line of vicars. Dick Sheppard was responsible for St Martin’s ground-breaking work with homeless people and for the first ever religious broadcast, starting a relationship with the BBC that continues today. Dick’s support for vulnerable people was upheld by the Revd Austen Williams who founded the Social Care Unit, which now flourishes as the Connection at St Martin’s. Canon Geoffrey Brown started St Martin-in-the Fields Ltd, building strong foundations for the award-winning Café in the Crypt and St Martin’s highly-respected concert programme. St Martin’s most recent vicar Nicholas Holtam, now Bishop of Salisbury, spearheaded the £36m Renewal Project. As Sam Wells takes up the reins of this open and inclusive church, he will serve a thriving community that comes here to worship, to learn, to be inspired and to be warmly welcomed.
Until recently Sam was Dean of the Chapel and Research Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke University in North Carolina, USA, where he led a staff of 25 in upholding the Chapel’s reputation for preaching, music and liturgy, oversaw the 35 campus ministers and was the regular preacher at the year-round Sunday services, which 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 most recent post at Duke, Sam 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. St Martin’s is committed to caring, particularly for homeless and vulnerable people through supporting the work of the Connection at St Martin’s, through the Vicar’s Relief Fund which sends out small grants throughout the UK to help people in crisis and urgent need, and raising money for this work through the annual BBC Radio 4 St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Appeal.
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 for 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.