Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence


9th Mar 2018

‘God is there for every Essex Man and Essex Woman in these challenging times’

The Venerable Dr John Perumbalath has been nominated by Her Majesty the Queen as the sixth Bishop of Bradwell in Essex. He succeeds the late Bishop John Wraw.

Currently Archdeacon of Barking in East London – and described by Stephen Cottrell the Bishop of Chelmsford as “a wise and gifted theologian and pastor” – the new Bishop will begin today in prayer at St Peter’s Chapel, Bradwell-on-Sea.

It was to Bradwell and Essex that the great missionary disciple St Cedd brought the transformative Good News of Jesus Christ in AD 654. The title Bishop of Bradwell and the Bishop of Bradwell’s Area are named in honour of Cedd’s epic mission to a people who had never heard the Good News before.

Now it is Archdeacon John’s turn as a disciple of Jesus Christ to launch a new mission to Essex and share the Good News afresh in no less challenging times. This is a mission of “serving the churches and communities” and John is “passionate” about Christ’s transformative love. “God is about human flourishing” he says. “God is there for every Essex Man and Woman.”

John will move on from Bradwell-on-Sea to visit Silver Birch Dementia Care at Prittlewell, Southend-on-Sea this morning where St Luke’s Church have put their Christian faith into action and are helping people who live with the challenges of dementia to continue to lead fulfilling lives.

Archdeacon John Perumbalath said:

I am humbled and honoured to have been invited to be the next Bishop of Bradwell. It has been a great joy to share in the life of Barking Episcopal Area in the last five years and I look forward to the new opportunities and challenges that serving the Church in the Bradwell Episcopal Area will bring.

“I am passionate about the Christian faith that can transform individuals, communities and institutions, and about communicating that faith through pastoral care, teaching and community engagement.

“God is about human flourishing. He is there for every Essex Man and every Essex Woman.

“I am aware of the social, economic and cultural challenges faced by the communities in the Area. I am committed to working with and serving the churches and communities in this part of Essex.”

The Bishop of Chelmsford Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell added:

I am delighted that John Perumbalath has been appointed as the next Bishop of Bradwell. He is a wise and gifted theologian and pastor.

“As Archdeacon of Barking he has won the trust and affection of the parishes, supported the mission of the Church, and helped ensure each community was served effectively.

“He will bring this experience to the parishes and communities of the Bradwell Episcopal Area, building on the work of those who have gone before him. Please pray for John and his wife Jessy as they prepare for this move."

The Archdeacon of Chelmsford Venerable Elizabeth Snowden said: 

The exciting news of the appointment of John Perumbalath as the next Bishop of Bradwell is really wonderful.

"John’s thoughtful and godly approach to ministry has meant that he is already a valued colleague. I am confident that together with Mike Lodge, Archdeacon of Southend we will be able to serve this area with John’s leadership to bring the good news of Jesus afresh to the many different communities across south Essex.”

The Archdeacon of Southend Venerable Mike Lodge commented:

I am really very pleased that John had been appointed to serve as the next Bishop of Bradwell. It has been a genuine pleasure to work with John as one of his colleagues over the past year. I very much look forward to continuing that relationship within John’s new role, with Archdeacon Elizabeth Snowden, the Archdeacon of Chelmsford, to further the work of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. In welcoming John, we also welcome Jessy and their family to the Bradwell Area, praying that God will richly bless them.”

The Bishop of Barking Right Reverend Peter Hill said:

I am delighted and encouraged that John Perumbalath has been appointed the next Bishop of Bradwell. He has been a superb Archdeacon of Barking and we shall miss him from our Area team.

“John brings great theological acumen, wise Christian leadership and strong pastoral gifts to every issue and situation. I am so glad that we will continue to work together on the Bishop of Chelmsford’s diocesan staff team.”


1. John Perumbalath

The Venerable Dr John Perumbalath is currently Archdeacon of Barking. Archdeacon John (52) hails from the ancient Syrian Christian community in Kerala, India, and trained for ministry at Union Biblical Seminary, Pune.

Before his ordination he worked as a youth worker among university students for two years and as a theological educator for three years. He was a parish priest in the Diocese of Calcutta in the Church of North India (CNI) from 1995 to 2001. He served on the General Synod of CNI and on its Theological Commission. Since his move to the United Kingdom, he served in the Diocese of Rochester as Associate Priest at St George’s Beckenham (2002-05), Team Vicar in Northfleet & Rosherville (2005-08), Vicar of All Saints, Perry Street & Diocesan Urban Officer (2008-13) before he was appointed the Archdeacon of Barking in 2013.

John also holds a wider role locally and nationally. He chairs the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) and the London Churches Refugee Network. He is a member of the General Synod and sits on the Appointment Committee of the Church of England, Mission & Public Affairs Council, and the Trustee board of Westcott House, Cambridge.

John has contributed reflections for Church House Publishing and has taken up speaking engagements in various provinces of Anglican Communion. He holds postgraduate degrees in Philosophy and Biblical studies and a doctorate in hermeneutics.

John is married to Jessy, a Mathematics teacher, and they have a daughter, Anugraha, a medical student. John enjoys walking in the countryside, reading poetry and simply being with people.

2. The Late Bishop John Wraw

The fifth Bishop of Bradwell, the Right Reverend John Wraw, died on 25 July 2017.

3. Consecration 

It is hoped that the consecration will take place on 3 July.

4. The Bishop’s role

The Bishop of Bradwell leads the Church of England in mid-Essex. He is a spiritual leader, teacher and evangelist. The Bishop’s role includes supporting people, refreshing existing ministry and growing new ministry, engaging in community life and public issues and managing church resources and structures.

The Bishop of Bradwell has a house and an office base in Horndon-on-the-Hill.

5. The Bishop’s Area

Archdeaconries and Deaneries

The Bishop of Bradwell’s Area – the Bradwell Episcopal Area - comprises nine Deaneries in two Archdeaconries - Chelmsford and Southend.

  • The Archdeaconry of Chelmsford comprises the Deaneries of Brentwood, Chelmsford North, Chelmsford South, and Maldon & Dengie.
  • The Archdeaconry of Southend comprises the Deaneries of Basildon, Hadleigh, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, and Thurrock.

View map in a new window

The map below shows the extent of Area and its Deaneries within the Diocese of Chelmsford (Diocesan Bishop: Stephen Cottrell). The Bishop of Barking’s Area (Area Bishop: Peter Hill) – the Barking Episcopal Area – in which currently John serves as Archdeacon of Barking is also shown on this map.

Parishes, benefices and mission and ministry units

175 churches in 137 parishes.

Three Ministry Mission and Ministry Units so far.

Licensed ministry 

  • 214 Clergy including Permission to Officiate Clergy.
  • 38 Readers and Licensed Lay Ministers.

Authorised lay ministry 

  • 14 Evangelism Enablers.
  • 16 authorised youth, children and family workers.
  • 63 Pastoral Assistants
  • 82 Authorised Local Preachers

Six people from the Area are currently in training for lay Pioneer Ministry, and will finish the course this summer.

Population of the Bradwell Area

The estimated population of the Bradwell Area is 950,213. This makes the Bishop’s Area larger than 16 dioceses in the Church of England. The area covers two unitary authorities – Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock – and the areas covered by the Essex district authorities of Chelmsford City, Brentwood, Basildon, Castle Point, and part of Maldon.

The most densely populated communities are in Southend-on-Sea, Basildon, Chelmsford and Grays. By contrast, parts of the Area have very low density of population and are a mixture of rural, agricultural and commuter villages. Many people commute to London daily for work by road or by rail into Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street stations.
Affluence and deprivation

Affluence varies enormously across the area, with some parishes in Southend, Basildon and Thurrock Deaneries among the most deprived in the country, while one of the parishes is the tenth least deprived in the country.

New developments

The massive Crossrail project will pass through 40 stations from Reading and Heathrow in the West, to Abbey Wood and Shenfield, in Brentwood Deanery, in the East. Significant new housing is being constructed or being planned in the Area. The largest developments are to the North of Chelmsford, at Beaulieu Park, and at Purfleet.

All the local authorities have been challenging targets for new housing over the next 20 years. Other significant developments include the new 3km long mega-container port at Corringham and a proposed lower Thames river crossing at Tilbury.