CofE considers single diocese for West Yorkshire and the Dales

The Church of England is considering creating a new single diocese for West Yorkshire and the Dales.

The planned diocese would replace the existing dioceses in the region - Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield.

Details of the reorganisation have been released by the Dioceses Commission today following a period of consultation with the three dioceses.

The single diocese would be called the Diocese of Leeds, whilst also being known as the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

Professor Michael Clarke, chair of the Commission said, "The main concern of the Commission has always been about how to best resource mission in the area and our consultation has shown that a single scheme is the best way forward.

"We hope that the diocesan synods will approve the scheme and take up the challenge of developing their vision for the new diocese. This is a once in a generation opportunity which we believe must not be lost.”

The new diocese has been proposed as a more effective way of meeting the challenges and opportunities of the region.

Under the scheme, the five areas of Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield would continue to have their own bishops to enable the Church to be more closely in touch with parishes.

Cathedrals would be retained on a co-equal basis and the new Bishop of Leeds would have permission to designate Leeds Minster as a pro-cathedral.

A few parishes would come under neighbouring dioceses and therefore be outside the new diocese, but the day to day life and worship of those churches would not be affected, the Commission said.

The scheme is to be voted on by each diocesan synods in March.

If approved, the Dioceses Commission said it would be important to have a Bishop of Leeds in place "as soon as possible".

The Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, welcomed the proposal.

"A single, larger diocese would help the Church of England thrive and meet the challenges of the 21st century in this part of Yorkshire," he said.

"The smaller episcopal areas would bring a greater sense of belonging and local identity, and the day-to-day life of the parishes would be strengthened by increased strategic resourcing; for example, we'd all have access to a greater range of expertise and experience. I am convinced we would be more than the sum of our parts.

"This is an unprecedented and imaginative move on the part of the Church of England and we have the opportunity locally to create and shape the detail in order that the church can serve the region in the best way possible."

The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Right Reverend John Packer said: “I very much welcome the way the Commission has emphasised the mission opportunities which the new diocese will present.

"I am particularly pleased that the parishes of the city of Leeds will come together in a single episcopal area as this will enhance our ministry to the whole city.

"I also believe that the new northern archdeaconry will have a great opportunity to concentrate on the opportunities and challenges with which the rural church now engages."

The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Reverend Stephen Platten said: “The publication of this report ends the uncertainty about the precise recommendations of the Commission and we are very grateful for that. We now look forward to a lively and informed debate within all three dioceses as we prepare for the final vote on these proposals.”

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