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The Revd David Brooke, our Area Dean, has been asked to undertake a six-month secondment at the Diocesan Office at Cuthbert House, starting on 1st October. He will work with the team there, and with the 16 Area Deans around Durham Diocese, to kick-start the new round of deanery planning. This short-term project is grant funded by the Church of England.

On the plus side, this is a direct recognition that Stockton Deanery has led the way in deanery planning over the last few years, and so David is perfectly placed to coordinate the work. On the minus side, it does mean that he will be working very hard on the project on a full-time basis till April, and that leaves a ‘hole’ in the parish at extremely short notice. David will be able to be involved in leading some Sunday services in the deanery, but not much else.

The Deanery Standing Committee met with the Archdeacon before agreeing to the secondment, because they wanted reassurance about how the parish can be properly cared for. There isn’t anything to announce just yet, but everybody is working extremely hard to identify a suitable person who will more than fill the gap. David’s work as Area Dean will be covered separately, mainly by other members of the chapter.

We hope to have news very soon about who will be standing in for David. Meanwhile, please be understanding — he won’t be dealing with parish or deanery calls and emails personally after the 1st October, but they will be dealt with! (By the way, that isn’t an invitation to send three months’ worth of emails and calls in the next week and a half.)

The Stockton Country Parish is lucky to have an extremely able administration team, and very capable Churchwardens and lay leaders. I think it is also fair to say that we are all good neighbours to each other in the deanery, so there’s every reason for confidence that this can actually be a time of growth.