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Under Church of England proposals to reorganise church districts, Bradford will lose separate status
The Church of England’s Dioceses Commission has released details of its draft scheme to reorganise three dioceses in West Yorkshire and the Dales.
The overall proposal, approved in late September, is to replace the existing dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, and Wakefield, and create a new single super one.
If approved by the diocesean synods next year, Bradford would lose its separate status and be subsumed into the Diocese of Leeds, also known as the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.
The Bishop of Leeds would be in overall charge of the new diocese as well as being an area bishop for Leeds.
The present Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, would lose his job. Instead of a diocesan bishop, Bradford would have an area bishop, as would Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield.
Existing cathedrals would be retained on a coequal basis. This would enable the new Bishop of Leeds to seek permission to designate Leeds Parish Church, now known as Leeds Minster, as a pro-cathedral.
The Rt Rev Nick Baines, said: “I welcome this scheme for a new diocese for West Yorkshire and the Dales. A single, larger diocese would help the Church of England thrive and meet the challenges of the 21st Century in this part of Yorkshire.
“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 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.”
If the proposals are accepted on March 2, a Bishop of Leeds would be put in place as soon as possible to provide the necessary leadership for the new diocese.
Once overall timings are approved by the Archbishop of York, detailed matters will be for the new diocese itself to resolve.
A few parishes will come under neighbouring dioceses and therefore be outside the new diocese: but the day to day life and worship of those churches will not be affected.
Professor Michael Clarke, Commission chairman, 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 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.”