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First New Diocese For More Than 85 years Will Be Created On Easter Day

OS Map of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales showing the five episcopal areas.

Tuesday 15th April 2014

History will be made on Easter Day, April 20th, when the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales is created, the first new diocese in the Church of England since 1929, and, at 2,425 square miles, the largest diocese in England by area.

The new diocese stretches from Huddersfield and Holmfirth in the south-west to Richmond and the River Tees in the north-east  and from Barnsley in the south-east to Bainbridge in the north west. With a population of 2.3 million people served by 656 Anglican churches, it includes the cities of Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield as well as North Yorkshire towns such as Skipton, Catterick, Harrogate and Settle.

A key feature of the new diocese will be its five smaller areas known as Episcopal Areas,  each with its own Area Bishop  and Archdeacon, responsible for local decision making. The new diocese will also retain its three cathedrals – Bradford, Wakefield and Ripon.  

Marking the end of the three former dioceses of Wakefield, Bradford and Ripon and Leeds, thanksgiving services have been held in each cathedral, and on Easter Day, the Rt Revd Nick Baines the Bishop of Bradford and Rt Revd Stephen Platten the Bishop of Wakefield will lay down their pastoral staffs on the altars of Bradford and Wakefield Cathedrals. (The former Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer retired in January).

Bishop Nick Baines has been chosen to be the first Bishop of Leeds, the official name of the new diocese,  and the Archbishop of York has announced today that he will also be Acting Bishop for the new diocese until his Confirmation of Election at a Service of Inauguration in York Minster on June 8th.

The Most Revd Dr John Sentamu said,  “I am thankful for all the hard work that has gone into preparing for the new Diocese, in particular for the Bishops and their staff, who are in the front line of all the changes.

"On Easter Day the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales (Leeds) comes into being.  On Tuesday (April 22), Bishop Nick Baines will take up his role as acting Diocesan and Area Bishop of Leeds, until his Confirmation of Election as Bishop of Leeds on June 8th.  Also on Tuesday, Episcopal functions for the Other Episcopal Areas are delegated as follows: Wakefield and Huddersfield – Bishop Tony Robinson; Bradford – Bishop Tom Butler; and Ripon – Bishop James Bell. My prayers are with you all in West Yorkshire and the Dales as your new Diocese begins. As we join together in thanksgiving and dedication may God lead us all to share more and more in the new life of Christ, risen from the dead! Alleluia!”

In a pastoral letter to be read out in every church on Easter Day, Bishop Nick calls the churches of the new diocese to live out the resurrection in their local areas through prayer and commitment.  “Along with my fellow bishops, James, Tony and Tom, I commend you for your faithfulness and call you to prayer and commitment to living in the power of God's Spirit in the places we live and work and play and serve. Together we can live out the resurrection on the ground in our parishes and institutions, offering a bold model - an incarnation - of resurrection hope.”

Speaking about the changes, Bishop Nick said that contrary to some reports, it was not being done to save money but in order for the church to more effectively serve the region, “This unprecedented organisational change in the Church of England will facilitate the Church’s mission, combining the intimacy of the local with the advantages of scale. It will enable the Church of England to have a coherent regional voice at the same time as paying attention to distinctive local character.

“We’ve been given a unique opportunity to look afresh at what we do and why we do it, at who we are and for whom we exist. I look forward to working with my colleagues across the diocese as we help shape the mission of the wider Church across West Yorkshire and the Dales.”

Posters, bookmarks and prayer-cards announcing the new diocese are being distributed to every parish church. A new diocesan website, www.westyorkshiredales.anglican.org, is launched on Easter Day and will carry the latest information, news and the diary of events.

Although many people in church on Easter Day will not see  any immediate differences, several significant changes will be taking place behind the scenes.  A new transitional Board of Finance, a transitional Board of Education and new Mission and Pastoral and Advisory bodies come into being, but in the short-term the three former diocesan offices at Leeds Wakefield and Bradford will continue to function as normal and continue to handle administration across the former diocesan areas. 

 

OS Map of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales showing the five episcopal areas.

 

FAQs

The Rt Revd Nick Baines, the Bishop of Bradford, will be the first Anglican Bishop of Leeds for the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales.

The diocese, which comes into being on Easter Sunday (and is the first new diocese in over 85 years), will replace the current dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield and will be the largest geographically in the country.

It  will be made up of five Areas (Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield) each with its own Area Bishop and Archdeacon. (Bishop Nick will also be the Area Bishop of Leeds).  It will retain the three Cathedrals (Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield) and have 656 churches, 496 clergy, 248 church schools and 45,000 regular worshippers.

It will run from Barnsley in the south, through West and North Yorkshire, to parts of County Durham in the north, covering an area of 2,425 square miles.

NOMENCLATURE

The diocese will be known formally as The Diocese of Leeds but will be referred to as the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales.

Bishop Nick will stop being the Bishop of Bradford on Easter Sunday (when the diocese is dissolved and the diocesan Bishop of Bradford post goes). He is then Bishop-designate of Leeds until 28 April, then Bishop-elect of Leeds until 8 June when he becomes Bishop of Leeds at the Confirmation of Election at York Minster.

He will be generally known as the Bishop of Leeds for the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales.

SIGNIFICANT DATES

Inauguration of the Diocese and Confirmation of the Election of the Bishop of Leeds
8 June, 4pm in York Minster with the Archbishop of York (at which point +Nick legally becomes the Bishop of Leeds.) In the context of a Eucharist service attended by people from all parishes across the new diocese.

Enthronements
There will be 3 enthronements - in Wakefield, Bradford and Ripon cathedrals on 15, 17 & 20 July respectively.

WHY IS IT HAPPENING?

Bishop Nick says, “This unprecedented organisational change in the Church of England will facilitate the Church’s mission, combining the intimacy of the local with the advantages of scale. It will enable the Church of England to have a coherent regional voice at the same time as paying attention to distinctive local character.

“We’ve been given a unique opportunity to look afresh at what we do and why we do it, at who we are and for whom we exist. I look forward to working with my colleagues across the diocese as we help shape the mission of the wider Church across West Yorkshire and the Dales.”

Advantages of scale

  • Stability and robustness of a large organisation with considerable financial resources.
  • Ability to develop full time specialists and support people who can work diocese-wide.
  • Clergy employment and deployment opportunities.
  • Opportunities to develop new models of clergy/laity working.
  • Influence on regional and national debates through the episcopal leadership of a Diocesan Bishop representing 2.3m people

 

 

Episcopal Areas

  • Each Area will develop their own unique identity and mission priorities. The Areas will be small enough to engender a sense of belonging, yet big enough to respond creatively to particular local needs.
  • The Area Bishops will be in close touch with the parishes’ day-to-day issues.
  • The clergy will be part of a team that has strategic ownership of the Area.
  • As the Areas are largely defined by local authority boundaries, the Church will be able to engage effectively with local bodies. (Leeds is currently divided between four dioceses with no single Church voice to speak in a civic context.)

 

 

BIOGRAPHY OF NICK BAINES

Nick Baines (56) has been Bishop of Bradford for three years, and before that was Bishop of Croydon (in the Diocese of Southwark). He read German and French at Bradford University and, before ordination, worked for four years as a Russian linguist at GCHQ.

He has a particular expertise and passion for communication and is known for his engagement with the media. He has 8,000 followers on Twitter and his blog – ‘Musings of a restless bishop’ – has attracted over 1.6 million hits and is read by over 5,000 people a week. He’s frequently asked to comment nationally on topical issues and is regularly heard on the Chris Evans Show on Radio 2 (and recently on Thought for the Day on Radio 4). The extent of his writing includes comment pieces for broadsheet newspapers, popular books on Christian faith (he’s written six) and contributions to academic journals. He also chairs the Sandford St Martin Trust which promotes excellence in religious broadcasting through the presentation of annual awards.

Nick Baines represents the Archbishop of Canterbury at international faith conferences and is the English Co-chair of the Meissen Commission which seeks to improve relationships between the Church of England and the Evangelical Church in Germany.  He also preaches regularly at conferences in Germany – in German. In May 2013 he was the first Englishman to be invited to preach to 130,000 people at the closing service of the biennial Kirchentag which was broadcast live on German TV.

He has a keen interest in music, literature, art, film, theatre and football. He’s married to Linda (a health visitor and artist) and they have three adult children: Richard, Melanie and Andrew, and two grandchildren. 

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