01 November 2011
The Dioceses Commission has begun the formal consultation phase
of its proposals for the Yorkshire dioceses with the publication of
a Draft Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield
Reorganisation Scheme. Consultation on the Draft Scheme will run
until 30 April, 2012 and follows consideration of more than 140
written responses to the Commission's initial vision for the
Yorkshire dioceses in its December 2010 report.
"There has been a general welcome for the main thrust of our
proposals," said Prof Michael Clarke, who chairs the Dioceses
Commission, "namely the dissolution of the existing dioceses of
Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield, and the creation of a
new diocese in their place. Our vision of a new diocese more
aligned to today's communities, with reconfigured episcopal
ministry closer to the parishes, and a streamlined administration,
has clearly struck chords with many. We have nevertheless listened
carefully to what we have been told and our Draft Reorganisation
Scheme includes a number of important changes."
After careful reflection on the responses to the first report,
the Commission has accepted the consensus view that the new diocese
should be called Leeds (rather than Wakefield) and that it may also
be known informally as the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.
The diocese would, as originally proposed, be configured with five
The three cathedrals of Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield will be
retained with equal status; but the Scheme leaves open the
possibility of a future Bishop of Leeds giving Leeds Parish Church
Some parishes not in West or North Yorkshire that might have
moved to neighbouring dioceses will now definitely remain in the
In most other respects the Commission has confirmed its original
thinking as set out in its earlier report. There have been a range
of responses on some aspects and the Commission will welcome
further comments on these and the proposals as a whole over the
next six months. This current draft reorganisation scheme can be
amended in the light of further submissions.
"We recognise the short term uncertainties created within the
three dioceses by our proposals," said Prof Michael Clarke. "This
is an inevitable consequence of change of this kind, but we want to
keep these to a minimum. We welcome the establishment by the three
bishops' councils of a Preparation Group, which will enable the
clergy and people of the prospective new diocese, with their staff,
to shape its future by filling in all of the details that can only
be decided locally."
Alongside the detailed draft scheme, the Commission has
published its latest explanatory report; a statement of the effect
of the proposals on the mission of the Church of England; and a
financial estimate for the changes. The financial estimate
indicates that the new diocese could, within five years, cost about
£0.8 million a year less than keeping the current diocesan
structure. The Commission is clear that its work is mission-led and
This formal consultation period will run for six months until 30
April, 2012. The Commission will then produce a final draft scheme
for consideration by the relevant diocesan synods before it is
debated by the General Synod. The earliest the scheme could come
into effect would be late 2013 to early 2014.
Note The Commission's report, draft scheme and
associated documents can be read at www.diocom.org/yorkshire.