The Rural Dean is Rev’d Canon Paul Hamilton
The Deanery of Brentwood lies to the extreme west of the Bradwell Episcopal Area, where its boundary is the M25 Motorway. Although it is largely a rural area, there is a large sub-urban swathe through the middle of the Deanery, containing most of the residential population. The Deanery is co-terminus with the area covered by the Borough of Brentwood, except for two exceptions.
a. The Parishes of Margaretting and Buttsbury are in the Borough of Chelmsford
b. The Parishes of Stondon Massey & Blackmore, although being within the Borough of Brentwood are in the Deanery of Ongar.
The Deanery is divided up into 21 parishes and has an establishment of 13 stipendiary clergy – one post of which is currently vacant. There are currently two stipendiary title posts and 8 non-stipendiary posts, three of which are title posts, and one of which is a “house for duty” appointment. Two parishes (St Thomas’ Brentwood & All Saints’ Doddinghurst) both have an active and experienced retired priest in their ministry team.
Two parishes have Licensed Lay-Workers – one of which is stipendiary. The Current establishment of Licenced Readers stands at 13.
The Deanery of Brentwood has 11 Church of England Primary Schools, and two Roman Catholic Primary Schools, offering the highest number of church school places of any Deanery in the Diocese. Parishes with church schools regard them as providing a fundamental opportunity of serving the local community, and as vehicle for outreach and ministry to families.
There are also 9 Community Primary Schools and several Independent Preparatory schools in the Deanery – each of which has close contact with the parishes in which they stand.
The Deanery has five Community Secondary Schools, one Roman Catholic Convent High School (for girls) and one very large Independent Public School. Again, each school has close links with neighbouring parishes.
The local churches support a School Christian Worker Trust, which provides resources and visitors to schools across the Deanery.
Local Industry & Commerce
Although the Deanery is largely rural in character with a number of large farms, there are also a number of small industrial estates, which provide accommodation for a wide range of light industries. There are also a number of commercial units – particularly in the Warley area, and both Brentwood High Street and the area around Brentwood Station and Shenfield Station support a wide range of retail outlets. However, growth in the retail sector is very much limited by the proximity of regional shopping centres such as Lakeside and Bluewater.
Three major organisations – Ford, Countryside Properties and BT – have major offices in Brentwood.
Brentwood Deanery remains one of the most expensive areas in the UK to purchase property. Its proximity and excellent transport links to London, together with its semi-rural environment make it a very attractive place to live. Some housing developments are still taking place, particularly in the area surrounding Brentwood Station and on the old Warley Hospital site. There are plans for a large housing development on the Highwood & Little Highwood Hospital site, and these are awaiting the opening of the new Brentwood Community Hospital in 2008/9 when the existing Highwood Hospital will close.
Most of the housing currently being developed seems to be priced too high for first-time buyers, and there is real difficulty in the area in finding suitable accommodation for key workers.
The Deanery is well served for leisure activities, having three large well-managed Country Parks, one of which (South Weald) hosted the Mountain Bike Event in the 2012 Olympics. The Brentwood International Centre provides sporting facilities and hosts a number of Concerts and Exhibitions throughout the year.
Brentwood Deanery has a large number of churches, and in a recent national survey it was revealed that Brentwood has the highest percentage of church-goers in the UK. All the mainstream Christian denominations are represented and there are a number of Ecumenical Partnerships taking place, and all parishes in the Deanery are involved in one of the following…
Churches Together in Brentwood
Churches Together in Shenfield & Hutton
Churches Together in Ingatestone & Fryerning
Churches Together in Doddinghurst ( comprising Anglican, Methodist & Roman Catholic churches working together in a Covenant.)
Some parishes also belong to Brentwood and District Evangelical Fellowship (BADEF) which is deeply committed to local mission. One Parish – St Thomas Brentwood – is currently entering into a covenant with the Roman Catholic parish of St Helens.
Vision for the Future
There are a number of common themes appearing in each of the individual Parish Mission / Vision Statements, which can be summarised as follows:
- To help all people to have an encounter with the Living God through Jesus Christ, and to foster their spirituality within the local church.
- To serve the local community, and to identify God at work within it.
- To encourage each other to grow in faith, through prayer, worship and fellowship.
There is a growing understanding that within the Deanery much can be achieved by working more closely together, and to sharing talents, skills & gifts across parish boundaries. The Deanery already supports both practically and financially, the “Heartbeat Project” based in the parish St Stephen’s, Ingrave. This Project seeks to enable the local church to engage in mission and ministry to a large London “overspill” Council Estate, managed by Newham Council. The Deanery Synod is committed to the on-going support of this Project, and many parishes in the Deanery contribute towards the cost of maintaining a full-time Parish Worker to head up the Project.
The Deanery Synod will be looking at other ways to support local initiatives, and at Deanery Synod Meetings we have regular up-dates on what is going on in the various parishes.
The Clergy Chapter meets regularly and is well attended, and provides an opportunity for Clergy and Readers to listen to each other, and gain an overall picture of the cares and concerns of the parishes within the Deanery.
There is a strong sense of fellowship between parishes in the Deanery, and although there is a very wide range of “churchmanship”, there is a good sense of mutual respect and trust between the clergy and the churches.
Approved by the Brentwood Deanery Synod October 3rd 2007