Clergy, Staff and Vestry
Rector Della Wager Wells
Our Rector, Della Wager Wells, is a cradle Episcopalian and has been an active layperson from her childhood in Watertown, New York, to her adult years in Atlanta, Georgia, at the large urban parish where she was senior warden and developed and led a training program for laypersons to prepare them for leadership in the church.
In 2008, Della became involved in the Compass Rose Society, an international mission organization supporting the relational ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the global Anglican Communion. Meeting and interacting with congregations from all over the Anglican Communion inspired Della to pursue ordained ministry.
Della retired in the fall of 2015 after 30 years of practicing law in Atlanta to begin seminary at …Read Biography
Senior Warden Debra Venancio’s lifetime experience includes 42 years of practice at Newport Hospital as both a staff nurse and an administrator with her main focus in the Intensive Care Unit for eleven years and in Obstetrics for thirty-one years. As an Emmanuelite, Deb was baptized and confirmed at Emmanuel and spent most of her adult life attending Emmanuel Church. She was a member of the search committee at St. Mary’s Church, Portsmouth when they found William Peyton to lead the flock for eleven years. She served several terms on the Vestry at St. Mary’s and was responsible for the building of its playground. Upon her return to Emmanuel, Deb served on the vestry at large and as Junior Warden. …Read Biography
Valerie Ann (Lynch) Martin was born in Newport, RI, and was baptized and confirmed at Trinity Church. Valerie married Michael Martin in Trinity Church in 1975. They moved to Tiverton RI in 1981 and attended Holy Trinity Church. Upon moving to Middletown in 1987, the Martin family with children Christine and Michael Jr. began attending Emmanuel Church, as her sisters were then members at Emmanuel. She has stayed at Emmanuel since that time, even after moving to Bristol for 12 years and back to Tiverton in 2015. Valerie has three grandchildren ages 23, 21, and 14.
Valerie has served on the Vestry in multiple roles over the years – Junior Warden X 2, Treasurer X 3, Assistant Treasurer X 1,
David is a lifelong active Episcopalian. He and his wife Marcia met and were married at Grace Church Providence more than 50 years ago. They have 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. They moved from CT to RI in 1982. They moved from St. Mary’s Portsmouth to Emmanuel in 2019. David is a retired naval officer and educator of both high school and naval school. He has been a vestryman and warden many times and has considerable property management and maintenance experience.…Read Biography
In 2016, Liz happily moved to Newport after retiring from a career in the hospitality field and joined Emmanuel. She is a graduate of Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration with a Bachelor’s degree and from Champlain College, Burlington VT with a Business Masters Degree. Her career included restaurant ownership, event management, sales and conference planning, living in Boston, Colorado, California, Vermont, Cape Cod before arriving in Newport. Liz is now content with walking around Newport, playing golf and bridge, and helping around the church.…Read Biography
Catherine Curtis moved to Newport in 2012 and began attending services at Emmanuel Church in 2017. She was baptized at Good Samaritan in Paoli Pa but grew up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. She was educated at Phillips Exeter and Yale University where she received a BA in Near Eastern Studies. Catherine has worked as a radio and print journalist, and arts educator and a gardener. She is also an artist whose work has been shown in galleries in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Her work is in the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. She raised her two boys, Nathaniel and Amory, in Providence, R.I. They both live in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Catherine has taken on the Hydroponics ministry …Read Biography
Director of Music and Events
Randy Elkins has been the Director of Music at Virginia-Highland Church (UCC) since 2015, served as House Organist at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center for 3 years, and was a staff organist at both the Plaza and Strand Theatres, all in Atlanta, GA.
Randy holds BMus and MMus degrees in organ performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, the country’s largest and highest ranked music school. Elkins’ classical organ repertoire is anchored by works of the baroque masters as well as French and German romantic composers. His popular repertoire centers around the American Songbook and transcriptions of great orchestral works for the organ.
As a church musician Elkins has served churches from 100 to 8000 members in Georgia, …Read Biography
Vestry at Large
Glenna is honored to be elected to the Vestry at Emmanuel Church, serving a three year term. She began attending services at Emmanuel during the summer of 2019 when she moved to Portsmouth.
Shortly after her daughter was born, the family moved across country to Pasadena, California where they had their Son. While raising her children she joined the Pasadena Art Workshop Council where she taught art classes.
Upon returning to Massachusetts, Glenna taught fourth grade at St George School in Westport. She also taught at Dartmouth Middle School as a Resource Teacher for sixth, seventh and eight graders. Five years ago, Glenna was hired by DNA Cruises as a tour guide for the cruise ships that come to Newport …Read Biography
Vestry at Large
Ed was born in Newport and raised in Middletown. He attended St. Mary’s Church Sunday School in Portsmouth and served as an acolyte. His family moved to Barrington and attended St. John’s where he also served as an acolyte.
After graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a degree in Electrical Engineering, he returned to Aquidneck Island and began his long career at Newport Electric retiring from Eastern Utilities as Assistant Director of Distribution.
A past President of Middletown Rotary Club, Ed also served on the Board of Directors at People’s Credit Union and Lucy’s Hearth.
While attending St. Mary’s, Ed’s committee work included: community garden, building and grounds and going green. In 2017, Ed transitioned to Emmanuel with his wife, …
Vestry at Large
Cindy Larned is a lifelong Episcopalian. She was baptized, and a member until adulthood, at Grace Episcopal Church in North Attleboro, MA. During her career with Aetna, she joined and served at Episcopal Churches in Michigan (Grace – East Grand Rapids); Vermont (All Saints- South Burlington); Connecticut (St James- West Hartford and Christ Church-Middle Haddam) and Delaware ( Grace – Wilmington). In addition to serving on several vestries over the years, she has also been deeply involved with the University of the South’s Education for Ministry program, first as a student and then as a Mentor of EfM groups for 15 years. In 2010, Cindy and her husband John moved to Newport from greater Philadelphia in order to be closer …Read Biography
Vestry at Large
Fay is a native lifelong islander and retired Portsmouth school teacher. She has one married son, Jonathan. Fay and her husband, Ed, came to Emmanuel 2 1/2 years ago. As a born and bred Episcopalian, Fay has worn many hats: altar guild, church trustee, vestry, Sunday school teacher. Her motto: Happy to serve!…Read Biography
Vestry at Large
Jackie has been a member of Emmanuel Church since January 1951. Her family had been active members for many years. She was baptized and confirmed, attended Sunday school, sang in the girl’s choir, and was a member of GFS (Girl’s Friendly Society). In her adult years she was a volunteer for the annual Lawn Fete, the chairperson for 3 years, which was a very big fund raiser for the church. Jackie’s most recent volunteer program has been the Chef for the monthly Soup’s On community dinner, for over 9 years. She will return to that position once the Covid-19 is under control and the church can resume this outreach program.
Jackie worked at Newport Hospital on the Medical Surgical Unit …Read Biography
Ellen has been a member of Emmanuel since 1998 where she has served in most positions except Altar Guild and Sunday School. She currently serves as the Virtual Verger livestreaming the Sunday service on Facebook, and posting the edited service and sermon on the Emmanuel Website, and posting the sermon on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Ellen also sings in the choir. She was elected to serve a three year term beginning 2022.…Read Biography