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St Martin-in-the Fields, Trafalgar Square welcomes new vicar the Revd Canon Dr Samuel Wells

News St Martin – Talking Points

Wednesday 27 June 2012

St Martin-in-the Fields, Trafalgar Square welcomes new vicar the Revd Canon Dr Samuel Wells

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 DurhamUniversity. He became Priest-in-Charge at St Elizabeth’s North Earlham in Norwichin 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. 

About his appointment Sam said “I am honoured to walk in the shoes of the dedicated and faithful clergy and people of St Martin’s over the last century and beyond.  Those who have held the tiller during the vacancy, notably the Revd Richard Carter and the Revd Katherine Hedderly, joint priests-in-charge, churchwardens Ali Lyon and Rod Beadles, and CEO Hugh Player, have done a terrific job.  This is an appointment of opportunity and privilege and challenge in equal measure; 2 July is a day for all of us together to celebrate all that has been and imagine all that might be.”  

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres said: “St Martin’s has an international role – it is very appropriate that someone with international experience has been appointed to develop the next chapter in the church’s story.  The growth of the Chinese Church at St Martin’s, under the Revd Paul Lau, is an especially important aspect of its life and I look forward to supporting Sam Wells as he strengthens the links between London and Chinese Christians.”

Rod Beadles and Ali Lyon, Churchwardens of St Martin-in-the-Fields said:  “The last 12 months have been exciting, challenging, interesting and joyful.  During this time of vacancy the whole community of St Martin’s has continued to develop the worship, welcome, ministry and mission of this extraordinary parish church, and we look forward to welcoming Sam and his family as they join us in this ongoing journey. The service of Collation and Induction marks a new phase in the life of St Martin’s and we will be glad to welcome all who are able to join us.”

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Notes to editors

St Martin-in-the-Fields has been a place of worship for over 800 years. There has been a church on the present site since the 13th century and archaeological findings during the recent Renewal Project, including a Roman sarcophagus dating from the 5th century AD, suggest much earlier sacred use of the area. Reaching beyond its Anglican congregations, St Martin’s is a place in which everyone is welcomed to meet, to pray, to find solace and support, and to enjoy music and hospitality. St Martin’s is at the heart of varied and changing communities, attracts over 700,000 visitors a year and serves an extraordinarily diverse range of people including the congregation, vulnerable and homeless people, users of the Bishop Ho Ming Wah Community Centre, Londoners and tourists.  The work of the church is supported by the proceeds from the award-winning Café in the Crypt – open 7 days a week, a world renowned concert programme of over 350 concerts annually, as well as a brass rubbing centre and shop. For further information visit