Samuel Wells to be Installed Sept. 25 as Dean of Duke Chapel

The new dean will wash the feet of 12 people as part of the ceremony; 300-member alumni choir to perform

The Rev. Samuel Wells will be installed as dean of Duke Chapel by President Richard H. Brodhead on Sunday, Sept. 25, in a special 11 a.m. worship service.

The installation service will include the giving of the symbols of ministry to Wells from DivinitySchool professor Stanley Hauerwas, assistant chapel dean Craig Kocher and others. Wells will also wash the feet of 12 people, including Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, the great-granddaughter of university namesake Washington Duke; Durham Mayor William Bell and Duke divinity professor Willie Jennings.

Wells said the footwashing "gesture is saying that this chapel and this dean are here to obey the command of Jesus, in washing people and bringing them to new life, in breaking bread and sharing the companionship of God, and in humble, sometimes humiliating acts of loving service."

The service and a lunch on the chapel grounds following the ceremony are open to the public.

The chapel choir, whose ranks will swell to more than 300 members with the addition of an expected 170 alumni in town for a reunion weekend, will perform during the service.

Wells, 39, is a fourth-generation Church of England priest. He earned a master's degree in modern history from Oxford University, a bachelor of divinity in systematic theology from Edinburgh University and a Ph.D. in theology from the University of Durham. He had been a priest in the Church of England for 14 years, serving in churches in Newcastle, Norwich and Cambridge, before coming to Duke in August.

A specialist in theological ethics, Wells has published numerous books and scholarly articles. Among his publications are "The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics," which he edited with Hauerwas, and "Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics."

In addition to serving as dean of Duke Chapel, Wells is a research professor of Christian ethics in Duke Divinity School. His wife, Jo Bailey Wells, is a former dean of ClareCollege, Cambridge, and now director of Anglican Studies at DukeDivinitySchool. They have two children.