09 December 2010
The Dioceses Commission today publishes its 120-page report on
the four Yorkshire dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds,
Sheffield and Wakefield and their boundaries with the Diocese of
York. Recommendations in the report must be debated by the relevant
diocesan synods before any scheme can be submitted to the General
Synod, which is unlikely to be before July 2013.
The report concludes that South Yorkshire is a distinct
community and should continue to have its own Diocese of Sheffield.
It recommends that there should be a single diocese, instead of the
current three, covering West Yorkshire and those parts of the
Dioceses of Bradford and Ripon & Leeds that are in North
The new, de-centralised, diocese would be divided into five
episcopal areas - Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and
Wakefield - each with its own area bishop and area council to
achieve a strong element of devolution within a context of
rationalization. "The area bishops," the report says, "would be, as
many have requested, closer in every sense to their clergy and
people than it has been possible for the diocesan bishops to
It also recommends that the new diocese would retain all three
existing cathedrals. Wakefield Cathedral would be the principal
cathedral of the diocese with Wakefield as the diocesan see.
Bradford Cathedral would remain as a focus of the Church's ministry
in that city, with Ripon Cathedral providing a focus for the
Yorkshire Dales. The diocesan office should be located in Leeds, it
recommends. Overall, the diocese would have the same number of
bishops as the current three dioceses but one fewer archdeacon.
The proposals would eliminate duplication and triplication and
offer the prospect of greater efficiency and resilience in the
support of parishes, schools, clergy and other licensed ministers,
the report argues. Others of the 39 recommendations in the
report consider boundaries and the appropriate dioceses and
episcopal areas for various parishes.
"In its work, the Commission is required to 'have regard to the
furtherance of the mission of the Church of England', and it was
for the sake of the Church of England's mission to the people who
live in the four dioceses concerned that the Commission embarked
upon its task," said Dr Priscilla Chadwick, who chaired the
"The review and its conclusions are mission-led and not
finance-driven (though mission needs to be financed, so financial
considerations cannot be ignored). We have asked which structures
will best enable the Church of England to relate to the communities
of Yorkshire (not just in the parishes but also at city, borough,
district and county levels), which will be most intelligible to
non-churchgoers, which would eliminate wasteful duplication, and
which are likely to prove resilient and sustainable into the medium
Interested parties, those who gave evidence and others who wish
to do so have until Monday, 9 May, 2011 to comment on the report
and the recommendations. It is anticipated that the Commission will
decide at its June 2011 meeting, in the light of comments received,
whether to prepare a draft reorganization scheme, and if so, what
the content should be.
The draft scheme would then be sent out to the 'interested
parties' for comment. It is anticipated that this would take place
in October 2011. The scheme, including any amendments, would then
be considered by the relevant diocesan synods before any such
scheme can be submitted to the General Synod. The earliest any
scheme might be considered by the General Synod, if one is
submitted, would be July 2013.
"Our recommendations, we believe, are both radical and
realistic," the Commission says in its report. "They reflect the
evidence we received and, in many cases, suggestions made to us
during the Review. It continues to be the vocation of the Church of
England to provide a Christian presence in every community. We
envisage a structure that would enable the Church of England to
engage more coherently with the people and communities of West
Yorkshire and the western half of North Yorkshire, and with the
institutions of civil society there."
The full report and guide are available on the web .
All of the interested parties, all those who gave evidence and
others who wish to do so are invited to comment on the report and
especially on the recommendations set out in Chapter 11. Comments
should be sent to
Mr Sion Hughes Carew (Assistant Secretary, Dioceses Commission),
Central Secretariat, Church House, Great Smith Street, LONDON SW1P
by Monday 9 May 2011 at the latest.