THE Church of England has appointed its first woman to the post of Archdeacon of Southend.

Rev Mina Smallman has been given the title – which covers Rochford, Basildon, Thurrock and Hadleigh as well as the town itself.

The reorganisation of the Diocese of Chelmsford has seen the previous four Archdeaconries split into seven in a process which began last year and is still being rolled out.

Rev Smallman is the first woman to hold the title of Archdeacon of Southend, although the role covers a smaller geographical area than had done before the split.

There is one other female Archdeacon in the diocese: the Venerable Annette Cooper, who holds the position in Colchester.

The Right Rev Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, said: “In restructuring the Diocese of Chelmsford into seven smaller and more cohesive archdeaconries we are looking to bring leadership closer to the parishes and local communities we serve.”

Rev Smallman, currently a priest in Barking, East London, and will move to the new post in September.

Rev Mina Smallman, said: “I am thrilled to be appointed to the new Archdeacon of Southend, against all odds I had a strong sense that God was calling me to this post, despite the fact that I loved being on Thames View in Barking.

“I am excited to see what new adventures God has in store for me over the next few months and years.”

She will be installed at a service at Chelmsford Cathedral on September 15.