A LONG-SERVING clergyman who tended to the spiritual needs of Edinburgh prisoners for eight years has been appointed to one of the Kirk’s most prestigious posts.
Reverend John Wells, 51, was named the new Moderator of Lothian Presbytery on September 26.
He has been at the helm of Roslin Parish Church in Midlothian and its sister churches Glencorse and Bilston for the last eight years.
The former chairman of presbytery’s education and worship committee said of his new post: “It is quite an honour that the presbytery have said ‘would you be our Moderator’? I am equally aware it means extra in the in-tray. It is more work.”
Rev Wells was born in Edinburgh on December 22, 1961, and attended Galashiels Academy from 1973 to 1979. He graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity from St Andrews University, going on to study at the University of Durham before receiving his teaching qualification from Edinburgh University.
Rev Wells then became a religious education teacher in County Durham before making the decision to join the ministry. His work for the Church of Scotland began when he took on the role as an assistant minister at Viewforth from 1988 and was ordained in 1991 before spending 12 years in Morningside.
He was also a youth minister at Mayfield Salisbury and was a part-time chaplain at Saughton Prison for eight years.
During his time working at the prison Rev Wells said he had met numerous former soldiers and this inspired him to call on the Government to inject more money into care services for veterans.
In a move supported by the General Assembly, he said at the time: “I still have a constant stream of men coming to the door of my manse in Roslin, through prison connections. They are men who are broken, exhausted and no-one wants to know them.”
The Rev Bill Taylor, SPS chaplaincy advisor and former colleague of Rev Wells, said: “As a Chaplain at HMP Edinburgh in the 1990s, Reverend John Wells brought grace and compassion to prisoners, taking time to listen and offer understanding.
“Whether in the worksheds, on the halls or in the prison chapel, John’s ministry brought hope and encouragement, and many appreciated the humour with which the message was delivered.” Lothian Presbytery meets monthly to discuss and decide on issues affecting Church of Scotland parishes in Mid and East Lothian.
“There is no other job like it,” he said of his post. “It is a great privilege to work with people, apart from the calling itself. That is what keeps me going. No two days are the same.”
Scaffolding has recently been erected around the Roslin Parish Church building where the Rev Wells works, as around £60,000 is being spent re-roofing the property.