The whole of Christendom wants to fix the date of Easter, except this Yorkshire town

Sunset over the iconic Whitby Abbey. The Synod of Whitby when the British Church came into line with Rome.Wikipedia

Moves by the world's major Churches to agree a common date of Easter, setting aside centuries of division, have been widely welcomed – but not in the small Yorkshire town of Whitby.

The town was the site of the crucial Synod of Whitby in AD 664, which saw the influential Kingdom of Northumbria fall into line with Roman practice on issues including the style of monks' tonsures and the date of Easter. They had originally been converted by missionaries sent from Rome under Gregory the Great, but had adopted the ways of Irish monks from the abbey at Iona. The distinctions were regarded as a mark of the disunity of the Church and the decision of the Synod was to bring England into the mainstream of continental Christianity.

The move to standardise the date, still observed differently in the Western Churches, the Eastern Orthodox and Coptic Churches, might please most people, but to some Whitby residents it's seen as a betrayal of their town's past.

According to the Whitby Gazette, Councillor Joe Plant said: "The procedure has been in place for centuries – why change it? It would be disrespectful to Whitby.

"The Abbey and the Synod of 664 are synonymous with Whitby and we have many pilgrims to the town as a result. There have been no problems with Easter being a movable feast. It is possible to work out the date for decades ahead through The Church of England's Book of Common Prayer.

"If it isn't broken why go about trying to change it?"

The Bishop of Whitby, Rt Rev Paul Ferguson, said talks would have to be held with the Vatican on the Archbishop's suggestion. "I think there will be quite a debate about in the town and I look forward to seeing how the debate unfolds."

Town Mayor of Whitby, Councillor Heather Coughlan, said she is baffled by the Archbishop's move. "Whitby jealously guards its history and heritage of which the Synod and Captain James Cook are a major part.

"I don't think it necessary to interfere with something which has worked well for 1,400 years and I'm sure the people of Whitby will take the same view.

"It sounds more like a suggestion from an office manager than the Church."