As many people know, the position of Rural Dean is carried out by parish clergy who already have demanding roles. For many years, Rural Deans have been highlighting the need for change.

As a result of many discussions between Rural Deans, Lay Chairs and the wider diocese, a plan for three ‘Deans of Area’ was developed. These roles were designed to support clergy and parishes and required the right people to be appointed. We knew without the right people, it wouldn’t work.

Having advertised, we did not feel we had the right people and, in consultation with Rural Deans and Lay Chairs, we have decided not to proceed with the plan to recruit Deans of Area. We will now work together to look at other options.

We are clear that it’s right to change a plan – even a good plan – when it isn’t right or isn’t working.

The original situation has not changed. We still want to give extra support to parish clergy people with already demanding roles who take on Rural Dean responsibilities. We want to support churches to have the in-depth conversations that we know are needed when there’s lot of change going on, and which Rural Deans do not currently have time for, and we know that some deaneries have found it difficult to recruit a Rural Dean because of the responsibilities of the role.

We, together with the Rural Deans and Lay Chairs, will now work on exploring alternative ways to do the things we know need to be done, building on the current Rural Dean role.