17 December 2010
A 'Blogging bishop' who is a University of Bradford graduate has
been announced today as the next Bishop of Bradford. The Rt Revd
Nick Baines (53), who is currently Bishop of Croydon, will be the
10th Bishop of Bradford, following the retirement of the Rt Revd
David James last July.
Nick Baines is renowned for his media expertise - he is an
experienced broadcaster and writer and he blogs and tweets almost
daily. He has been Bishop of Croydon (an area bishop in the Diocese
of Southwark) since May 2003. He makes use of his experience
working with other faith leaders in London following the 9/11
attacks in representing the Archbishop of Canterbury at various
international interfaith initiatives.
His appointment comes the week after a Church of England report
that proposes the reconfiguration of the three West Yorkshire
Dioceses (Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield) in order to
create one new large diocese. (see Notes to Editors)
A Liverpudlian by birth, Nick Baines gained a degree in French
and German from Bradford University in 1980. He says, "Bradford is
a place I came to love when I studied Modern Languages at the
university thirty years ago. I look forward very much to working
with and serving the churches and communities of this culturally
diverse diocese in the years ahead. (see more quotes in
Bishop Nick will be introduced this morning to the diocese and
city at the National Media Museum, where he'll meet civic and faith
leaders and members of the diocese. He'll then travel by train to
Skipton to meet civic dignitaries, farmers, children and
One of his main priorities is how the Church communicates its
message. He says, "I'm passionate about Christian engagement in the
big wide world - not on our own terms, but on the basis that we get
stuck in wherever we can; committed to the world in all its pain
and glory. And it's something about which I think we need to
be a bit bolder - and thicker skinned."
He has a keen interest in music, literature, art, film, theatre
Nick is married to Linda (a health visitor and artist) and they
have three adult children: Richard, Melanie and Andrew, and one
It is hoped that he will begin his ministry in the spring.
Bishop Nick was born in Liverpool in 1957, attended Holt
Comprehensive School and, in 1980, gained a BA in German &
French from Bradford University. Prior to his ordination he was a
specialist in modern languages, working briefly in Germany and
France and then for four years at GCHQ as a Russian Linguist.
He trained for the ministry at Trinity College, Bristol and was
priested in 1988. He served his curacies in the Diocese of Carlisle
and then the Diocese of Leicester where he remained as Vicar of
Rothley for eight years as well as being Rural Dean of Goscote.
He has had wide parish experience, including city centre, market
town, rural village and commuter village.
Before becoming Bishop of Croydon in 2003, he had been
Archdeacon of Lambeth (in the Diocese of Southwark) for three
years. He chaired the Diocesan Children & Youth Development
Group until 2007.
He was elected to the General Synod in 1995 and served (with a
brief break) until 2005, serving on the Board of Mission,
Partnership for World Mission and to the Crown Appointments
Commission Review Group.
Nick is the English Co-chair of the Meissen Commission (Church
of England relations with the Evangelical Church in Germany),
represents the Archbishop of Canterbury at international faith
conferences and is a member of the House of Bishops' Europe
He was a Director of Ecclesiastical Insurance from
Nick has contributed regularly to Radio 2's Pause for Thought
for over a decade (currently on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show) and
his blog, 'Musings of a Restless Bishop', has around 10,000 readers
each week. The inspiration for his blogs comes from anything
currently in the news - from John Lennon to the public
understanding of the Bible or his beloved Liverpool FC.
He says, "New media offer access to people (like me - a bishop)
who might otherwise seem to belong to a remote and mysterious
world. They also enable us to engage outside our
self-selected safe communities, be present in a space where a
different sort of conversation can be had and allow connectivity
between people, groups and ideas that in a previous generation
might not have been possible, even if desirable."
He says that new media are of equal value in a local as well as
a national context: "Local people can use the connectedness of
social networking and new media forms (such as blogs) to tell
stories, challenge prejudices, correct misrepresentation and form a
locus of interest, communication and confidence."
Earlier this month he appeared on Channel 4's 4thoughtv in which
he challenged the notion that Christians are 'persecuted' in the
UK. He said: "(Let's not) see ourselves as victims, but recognise
the amazing freedom we have in (and massive contribution we make
to) British society both locally and nationally… and get out there
more confidently with the unique gift of Christian faith, service
He has written six books* and his writing and broadcasting style
is (according to reviewers) "warm, witty, provocative, insightful
and never preachy." Of 'Finding Faith', his autobiographical book,
the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said, "Here is a
book that manages to be lively and profound at the same time. It is
honest, funny and challenging - one of those books that makes you
remember why it's worthwhile being a Christian".
He is the Bishop for Diocesan Communicators and chairs the
Sandford St Martin Trust which presents awards for high quality
religious programmes. He has twice received a commendation himself
in the Andrew Cross Awards for religious broadcasting.
Despite his understanding of the media, he has been on the
receiving end of distorted reporting himself. When last year he
wrote a book ('Why Wish You A Merry Christmas?') in which he
questioned the words of some carols, he was subject to an onslaught
of "Killjoy Bishop Cancels Christmas" headlines and abusive
He says the book was a light-hearted attempt to persuade people
to think more about the original Christmas story, which he fears
has become confused with pantomime: "I recall a visit I made to a
school and asked who were the main characters in the Christmas
story and was told Cinderella, Santa Claus and the elves. We have
to do something about that confusion. I want people to get out
there and enjoy themselves and sing carols, I'm not saying anything
against that. But what I do want also is for them to think more
about what they are saying and doing and reconnect with the
original Christmas story."
Speedbumps & Potholes (2004), Marking Time: Reflections on
Mark's Gospel for Lent Holy Week and Easter (2005), Hungry for
Hope? (2007), Scandal of Grace: The danger of following Jesus'
(2008), Finding Faith: Stories of music and life (2008), Why wish
you a Merry Christmas? (2009). (Speedbumps & Potholes and
Finding Faith have been translated into German.)
Bishop Nick Baines says, "The next few years will bring great
challenges: economically, politically and culturally. I hope to
encourage confidence in the Christian Church, the unique and
particular role of the Church of England and the development of
sensitive ministry and outreach. The task of communicating and
living the Good News is great - but so are the
"My first task will be to listen and learn. Urban and rural
communities face different challenges and I look forward to getting
to know the whole diocese as quickly as possible. The unique
interfaith relationships in this part of West Yorkshire are vital
to a flourishing society and I will engage fully in developing them
for the 'Common Good'.
"This is a pivotal time for the Diocese of Bradford in the light
of the recommendations by the Dioceses Commission published last
week. I am coming to the diocese fully aware of what this might
mean and ready to lead the diocese through the process of engaging
with it. I am committed to focusing on the Church as the servant of
the Kingdom of God - a church with the vision and courage to shape
its future in this wonderful part of the world."
"I will miss Croydon and the whole of the Diocese of Southwark
where I have been for the last 12 years - it's a culturally diverse
place with lots going on. And it's always sad to leave
friends; but Linda and I are very much looking forward to this new
phase in our lives, and getting to know people in the Bradford
The former Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Tom Butler, says,
"Bishop Nick Baines is one of the most able and energetic bishops
in the Church of England. As Bishop of Croydon he engaged
with every aspect of the life of a very varied community whilst
always having the demands of the mission of the gospel in the
centre of his concern. He is a brilliant communicator and a fine
teacher and preacher. In changing and challenging times he will
provide excellent leadership for the Diocese of Bradford and will
enhance the life of West Yorkshire, the General Synod and the House
The Rt Revd Dr Richard Cheetham, Bishop of Kingston and Acting
Bishop of Southwark, says: "I am delighted for Bishop Nick and for
the Diocese of Bradford. This is a great appointment.
It has been a privilege to have worked with Bishop Nick for over
eight years and I know that he will bring the necessary skills and
vision to Bradford Diocese to help it to consider the changes that
lie ahead in the future".
The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Woolwich and Bishop
Elect of Southwark, says: "I have worked closely with Bishop Nick
for the last five years and value his incisiveness and zeal for the
Gospel. He will be much missed throughout the Diocese but
will be returning to the north with a wealth of experience from his
years in Southwark Diocese. He is well equipped for this new
task and I am confident that Bradford Diocese is receiving a gifted
chief pastor who will give strong leadership in mission at a time
of transition and change, particularly in the light of the
proposals from the Dioceses Commission."
The Archdeacon of Bradford, the Ven David Lee, says, "Jesus came
to make things better for people and the Church is responsible for
sharing this good news. I am delighted that the next Bishop of
Bradford is coming to help us in getting the message across way
beyond church circles."
The Church of England's Dioceses Commission report on the future
of Yorkshire dioceses proposes the reconfiguration of the
three West Yorkshire Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and
Wakefield, in order to create one new large diocese. Within this
diocese there would be five areas - Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds,
Ripon and Wakefield - each with its own area bishop.
The Bishop of Bradford would work in the area of the Bradford
Metropolitan District; a sign of the importance given to the role
played by the Bishop there in interfaith relations and in
exercising leadership in an area of particular deprivation.
The report is part of a long national process to review how the
Church of England can be more effective in serving local
communities. Much has changed since the West Yorkshire dioceses
were set up over a century ago, and historically the Church has
adapted its boundaries so that it can better serve every community
as effectively as possible.
It is a draft proposal for discussion and the final outcome may
be very different from this initial proposal. The recommendations
must be debated by the relevant diocesan synods before any scheme
can be submitted to the General Synod, which is unlikely to be