New 'blogging bishop' for the Diocese of Bradford
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 Notes)
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 clergy.
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 and football.
Nick is married to Linda (a health visitor and artist) and they have three adult children: Richard, Melanie and Andrew, and one grandchild.
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 Panel.
He was a Director of Ecclesiastical Insurance from 2002-2010.
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 and apologetics."
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 email.
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 opportunities.
"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 Diocese".
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 of Bishops".
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 before 2013.