The Deanery of North West Essex was formed in November 1998 and incorporates the parishes of Braintree, Dunmow (serves Hatfield Broad Oak), Great Bardfield (serves Thaxted) , Halstead (serves Sible Headingham), Saffron Walden and Stansted.
The Dean's office is primarily pastoral, being an extension of the Bishop's pastoral office as shepherd: it is an office of apostolic caring for the Church in the area of promoting and sustaining supra-parochial action as envisaged by the Second Vatican Council. The Dean is the Bishop's personal representative in the Deanery and acts in this capacity when presiding at parish liturgical functions, ecumenical activities and similar events. He also acts as the a channel of communication between the priests and people of his Deanery and the Bishop.
The Dean, by virtue of his election (a three year term resulting from a secret ballot of the clergy of the Deanery) is a member of the Council of Priests and also a member of the Brentwood Diocesan Pastoral Council. The Diocesan Pastoral Council is the primary means by which the bishop sounds out lay opinion in the diocese and is invited to join with him in building up the Christian community for which he is responsible.
Each Deanery has a Deanery Pastoral Council whose role it to consider district issues and provide resources for local initiatives. The North West Deanery Pastoral Council meets on a quarterly basis - its broad purposes can be summarised as:
Saffron Walden's Parish Pastoral Council appoints a representative (who should be aware of their parish's concerns and issues) to attend both Diocesan Pastoral Council and Deanery Pastoral Council meetings. Our current representatives are:
In November 2004, the Diocesan Pastoral Council launched its "Vision Document". This deals with planning for the future of the Diocese and contains two parts - the first designed to help us reflect on the sort of church we wish to be and the second is an overview on some of the ways that vision can become a reality and includes some detailed plans for reorganisation.