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Dioceses Commission publishes report on Yorkshire dioceses

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 Yorkshire.

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 be."

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 review.

"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 term."

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 .

 

Notes

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

yorkshire.review@c-of-e.org.uk 

or to:

Mr Sion Hughes Carew (Assistant Secretary, Dioceses Commission), Central Secretariat, Church House, Great Smith Street, LONDON SW1P 3AZ

by Monday 9 May 2011 at the latest.