People

Leadership Staff

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 after 30 years of practicing law in Atlanta in the fall of 2015 to begin seminary at

Read Biography

Valerie Martin

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, She has stayed at Emmanuel since that time, even when moving to Bristol and then back to Tiverton, because she loves the people here.  Valerie has three grandchildren ages 25, 23 and 16. She and her husband Michael also have a beautiful Cavapoo named Teddy.

Valerie has served on the Vestry in multiple roles over the years – Junior Warden X 2, Treasurer

Read Biography

Jim Kaull

Jim Kaull is a third-generation parishioner of Emmanuel Church. His beloved late uncle, James T. Kaull, Jr. was Junior warden at Emmanuel for twenty years ending in 1981. Jim and Nina returned to Newport in 2020 after 39-year careers in Boston and Washington DC. Since returning they have been regular volunteers for “Soups On” and Jim has served as one of the four church volunteers who maintain the Emmanuel grounds. Jim is currently a licensed real estate agent with Gustave White Sotheby’s International Realty.

Read Biography

David Frazier

David Frazier was born and raised in Oklahoma, graduating from Oklahoma State University with a BS in mathematics. After graduation, David moved to Houston to work for Exxon in information technology. In Houston, David met Lorraine (Quinn), and they married in 1979.

David and Lorraine moved to Oklahoma, where David accepted a job with Halliburton Co., and where their daughter, Molly Kathleen, was born. Molly was born with severe mental and physical limitations. Molly lived a happy and peaceful life, but, sadly, passed away in January 2022.

David and Lorraine traveled internationally with David’s job, residing in Duncan, Oklahoma; London; and Houston. David retired in 2017 as the Sr. Director of Information Security and Risk Management after 38 years of

Read Biography

Carolyn Swiggart

Carolyn C. Swiggart came to Emmanuel Church through The Rev. Della Wells and her husband, Jere. My late husband, John Wayt, and Jere were high school friends in Atlanta, and we had a happy reunion in 2020 after the Wells moved to Newport. Upon meeting Della, I moved my “letter” to Emmanuel Church in 2021. I am a life-long Episcopalian, and I enjoy the mission and history of Emmanuel. I live in Jamestown, and I also have a law practice and a residence in Greenwich, Connecticut. Over the years, I have served on the boards of several organizations, including the Indian Harbor Yacht Club, Rotary, United States Power Squadrons, and the Daughters of the Cincinnati. I am also a “Blue

Read Biography

Margaret Keiran

Margaret Keiran grew up in Connecticut where she attended church at the United Church of Christ, Congregational. After becoming a nurse, she lived in New Hampshire and eventually Massachusetts. She attended Simmons College and has been a Nurse Practitioner for the past 30 years. She met her husband Steve in Boston, and they enjoy a happy marriage. The beauty of the Newport area appealed to both of them and they moved here permanently in 2015. When visiting churches, Margaret “found” Emmanuel and it has been a wonderful experience. She is serving as Clerk.…

Read Biography

Randy Elkins

Randy Elkins, Emmanuel Newport’s current director of music, was the Director of Music at Virginia-Highland Church (UCC) for six years, 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 …

Read Biography

Vestry

Brian Ladley

Brian Ladley moved to Newport with his spouse Andy and their son Jordan in 2020. He has been an active church participant since childhood, first where he grew up in greater Philadelphia, PA and later at churches in places he and Andy have lived, including Santa Fe, NM, Brewster, MA then back in PA before relocating to Newport. He began serving on the Altar Guild at his most recent church in PA and is thrilled to continue to serve in that capacity here at Emmanuel.

Brian works in visitor relations at both the Newport Art Museum and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He recently joined the Elks Club and enjoys volunteering at the Newport Mansions whenever he has the

Read Biography

Robert Messore

Robert Messore grew up in Providence, R.I. He now resides in Exeter, R.I. with his wife, Monika, daughter Elizabeth, and grandson, Jesse. He retired as Director of Sales from a small company in Connecticut in 2020.

Robert is a certified Spiritual Director, retreat leader and a Dorcas House volunteer. He facilitates a Contemplative Prayer group by Zoom and a weekly Prayer meeting by Zoom. Robert has been in various church leadership positions for over twenty years.

He has been attending Emmanuel Church for over 7 years and is inspired by Emmanuel’s vision and community building focus.…

Read Biography

Robert O’Donnell

Robert moved to Newport full time with his wife, Carol, about two years ago from Connecticut where he was a member of Trinity Church, Southport. Originally from Haverford, Robert was confirmed at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr, PA. He attended the Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia and went on to attend Washington & Lee University. Robert continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Christie’s Fine Arts Course in London.  Robert has three sons and one grandson. Robert’s charitable interests include the Newport Hospital, the Newport Tree Conservancy and the Preservation Society. Robert was a senior investment professional in New York with over 40 years of experience in alternative investments. He is a …

Read Biography

David Thalmann

After a 30 years career in finance based in New York domestic and international corporate finance, private banking, mergers and acquisitions and leveraged finance private equity I “retired” to Newport in 2004 having spent summers in Newport since the 1980s.

For ten years in Newport I served as the Chief Financial Officer of the Aquidneck Land Trust.  In 2016 I accepted an offer to be the Finance Director of the Redwood Library & Athenaeum, a position I still hold today.

I have served full terms on the Potter League, Newport Performing Arts Center and St. Michael’s Country Day School Board of Directors .  Currently I am a trustee on the Newport Hospital Power by Prince Foundation and the EJMP Fund …

Read Biography

Paige Williams

In 2023, Paige moved to Newport and began attending Emmanuel Church shortly after. Since then, she has been an active participant the Musician’s Circle at Emmanuel.

Paige was born and raised just south of Nashville, TN in Brentwood. She is a graduate of Trevecca Nazarene University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication and met her husband, Caleb Dinger. For several years, Paige and Caleb lived in Franklin, TN where she worked for her family’s business doing administrative and bookkeeping work and he was a working musician.

In 2022, Caleb joined the United States Navy as a musician. Since Caleb’s career in the Navy brought them to Newport in 2023, Paige has been working in the …

Read Biography

Ellen Vadney

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