An Area Dean or a Rural Dean is the same thing. They are members of the clergy who are generally in Parish ministry as well, and carry out a number of additional roles within the Deanery. In this Diocese, we call them Rural Deans, and they work within a Deanery. Rural Deans work to encourage the clergy within the Deanery to meet together regularly for mutual support and to help develop a close working relationship across parishes.
They help communication between the Diocesan office and the parishes in the Deanery. Along with a Lay appointed colleague, the Rural Dean will convene and chair the Deanery Synod meetings. The Rural Dean is a part of the Deanery Mission and Pastoral Group. They also carry out the parish inspections on behalf of the Archdeacon, and work closely with parishes during vacancies (interregnums) in the appointment of new clergy.