Ministry Team

Rector, Revd Canon Darren Barlow

Darren was ordained in 1998 after training residentially at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Prior to then he worked for a national training charity as a Training Consultant providing inhouse consultancy in leadership, teamworking and communication skills. He served his curacy in the Parish of Rayleigh before moving in 2001 to serve as Team Vicar in the Billericay & Little Burstead Team Ministry where he was the vicar of St John’s Outwood Common and St Mary’s Little Burstead. In 2006 Darren was appointed as Team Rector of the Grays Thurrock Ministry overseeing four, later to become, six churches, leading a large team of clergy and lay ministers. Darren’s primary focus of ministry was as vicar of Grays Parish Church, a large multicultural, mixed age and gender congregation. Whilst Darren was in post, he oversaw a project to reorder and improve the church building costing in excess of half a million pound. In 2011 he was also appointed by the Bishop of Chelmsford as Area Dean of Thurrock, a post that he continued to hold until his move to the Parish of Shenfield in January 2024. In 2015 Darren was made a Canon of Chelmsford Cathedral and continues to serve as a member of the College of Canons. He has represented the Diocese of Chelmsford at several national conferences and events addressing the topics of Occasional Offices (Baptisms, Weddings & Funerals), Vocation and Mission, all of which in his role as Rector, reflect his passion to make Christ known and see the church grow.
Darren is married to Sarah, who is a teacher, and they have three adult daughters. He is a keen runner and can often be seen running around the roads of Shenfield early in the morning. He also interested in gardening, DIY, current affairs and politics.

Darren can be contacted by clicking the Contacts page.


Licensed Lay Minister, Canon Paul Betts

Paul was born locally, and educated at Brentwood School and King’s College, London, where he studied Classics at both degree and postgraduate level; in addition, he took the optional A.K.C. (Associate of King’s College) course and discovered an interest in Theology. He belongs to the National Trust, English Heritage and the Royal Horticultural Society and enjoys visiting places of beauty and/or historical interest.

Paul has been part of the St Mary’s congregation since the late 1950s and was invited to join a new band of Servers in 1962. He was asked to lead the Servers in 1976. He has been a member of the Mission & Unity Committee for many years, becoming Chairman in the early 1990s. Around this time he began to represent St Mary’s on the local Ecumenical Coordinating Committee, the forerunner of Churches Together in Hutton & Shenfield, of which he was the first Chairman. He was Churchwarden from 1996 to 2002. On retiring from a career in teaching, he embarked on the diocesan Course in Christian Studies, which led to Reader training; he was licensed as a Reader in 2007. He now edits the weekly newsletter, TheLink. He is currently serving as Lay Chair of the Brentwood Deanery Synod and has been made a Lay Canon of Chelmsford Cathedral.

Paul can be contacted by clicking the Contact page.


Churchwarden, Ian Eaton

Six years ago I moved to Hutton Poplars from Waltham Abbey with my wife, Rosemary, to be close to our elder son and his family. We joined St Mary’s Church because our two local grandchildren were attending the school (I can often be spotted picking up our grandson after school!). We enjoyed the ethos of St Mary’s, and the friendliness of everyone we came across – and we kept on coming!

I met Rosemary more than fifty years ago in the Physics lab at Exeter University. It was her who encouraged me to become a Deputy Churchwarden at St Mary’s two years ago to keep my little grey cells active. I did not intend to become a full Churchwarden (like she had been at Waltham Abbey) but somehow I volunteered and I became a fully-fledged Churchwarden here on 14th May 2019.

I’m very interested in local and family history, and enjoy metal detecting (what I call ‘field fishing’ – very calming, if frustrating!).

I’m a retired Financial Services IT Manager who worked for IBM, NatWest and various software companies, including Logica. With this work background I’ve been asked to focus on implementing new ways of processing our church’s finances to make it easier to fill the Treasurer vacancy on our PCC.

Ian can be contacted by clicking the Contact page.


Churchwarden, Edna Grimble

I first attended St. Mary’s Church in 1983 when I was warmly welcomed by many of the congregation.

My son was baptised there and it was not long before I was asked to join the Stewardship team as Secretary.

I was then Confirmed with many other adults that particular year.  It all took place at St. Mary’s and an occasion I shall never forget.

Molly Hoyle and I were asked to start up the first Footprints Group in the Parish Hall and that group has been going ever since.

I have been PCC Secretary for many years and am a member of Deanery Synod, Lay Minister of Communion, Mission and Unity Committee, Ministry Team, Fund Raising Committee, Mothers Union, Social Committee and have recently resigned from Churches Together in Hutton and Shenfield.  I am best known for my role as Electoral Roll Officer.

I was born in Enfield and married in 1967. I have worked in London as a PA and then at the Fire Brigade Headquarters  in Hutton and lastly the NHS as an Administration Officer.  I have one son who married last year.

This is my second term as a Churchwarden and I am enjoying it very much. Edna can be contacted by clicking the Contact page.