Friday, 8 November 2013

Developments in West Yorkshire and The Dales

The Church Times has a news story, New diocese sets out job spec. for Bishop of Leeds.

HE WILL be a “resilient leader” with “enough confidence and inner strength to use conflict creatively”. He will tackle “dented morale” among lay people, and chair a diocesan synod of more than 300 members. He will relish the possibility of a “huge change programme” in the most populous diocese in the Church of England.

The statement of need for the diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales, published last Friday, makes clear the extent of the challenge facing its first Bishop…

The full Statement of Needs can be read from here, as a PDF.

In other reports, Bradford has the news that Former Bishop of Southwark to be ‘Mentor Bishop’

Until a Diocesan Bishop is appointed for the new Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales, the Archbishop of York has appointed the Rt Revd Tom Butler as ‘Mentor Bishop’ to give episcopal advice to Programme Director John Tuckett.

Bishop Tom, who’s well known for his Thoughts for the Day on Radio 4, is the former Bishop of Southwark and, having retired in 2010, now lives in Wakefield. He knows the area well: he gained his doctorate in electronics from Leeds University and trained for ordination at the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield.

John Tuckett says, “Bishop Tom has a wealth of expertise and experience, and it will be hugely valuable for me to have someone to go to for independent advice, not least because, as the former Bishop of Southwark, he understands how a diocese with an area model works.”

The archbishop is also to appoint Bishop Tom as the Chair of the Shadow Board of Finance for the new Diocese. And Bradford Diocesan Synod has given its consent for Bishop Tom to become Acting Diocesan Bishop during Bishop Nick Baines’s sabbatical, from February to April…

From Wakefield we learn that the Bishop of Wakefield will return to his roots after diocese dissolved

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, has just announced the appointment of The Rt Revd Stephen Platten as the new Rector of St Michael’s Cornhill church and an honorary assistant Bishop in the Diocese of London.

Stephen will take up the position at St Michael’s in July 2014. This is in addition to his new position as chair of the Hymns Ancient and Modern charitable trust which he will assume at the end of January…

This is also reported by London.

And the Yorkshire Evening Post has John Packer: Bishop of Ripon and Leeds looks back as he bows out.

…To clarify, it is officially retirement, but the bishop cheerfully admits it is redundancy in a way since he is going earlier than the mandatory 70 years of age because his patch is disappearing. There will be no more bishops of Ripon and Leeds.

Two other bishops are meeting the same fate as the Church of England massively restructures the area. The big new job will be as Bishop of Leeds and it has already been advertised, calling for “an experienced, inspiring leader with a heart for the people.”

Bishop John is completely in favour of the change: “Our boundaries do not make sense.and the changes will help us to focus our ministry more effectively,” he says…

Further information about the progress of the new diocese can be found at a new website, designed specifically for the Transformation Programme for the Diocese of West Yorkshire and The Dales. One to keep an eye on.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 8 November 2013 at 8:31am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Congratulations to the Transformation Programme for the website. Very helpful and instructive. Prayers for them all as they head into 2014! I think it looks exciting.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Friday, 8 November 2013 at 12:20pm GMT

Packer to retire, Platten fixed up with a job in London, Tom Butler for the regency ... Nick Baines it is then as the new super bishop ... that's it all done and dusted.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Friday, 8 November 2013 at 3:36pm GMT

Wake me up when he can be a she.

Posted by: Tim on Friday, 8 November 2013 at 5:47pm GMT

Interesting. Looks (from a skim-read of the Statement of Needs) like they want someone who's BOTH already been a diocesan bishop (for a little while) AND who won't be in the Lords before, say, August 2017. Only one bishop currently in a diocesan see won't be in the Lords by August 2017: Julian Henderson, the newest bishop.

Then there's Nick Baines, who – IIRC – slips to the back of the 'queue' (for the Lords) iff he doesn't translate directly to another diocesan see from Bradford...

There's one man in the CofE who'd fit what they seem to want.

Posted by: Dan BD on Friday, 8 November 2013 at 7:57pm GMT

(My above calculations assume all bishops whose retirements haven't been announced serving until their 70th birthdays; it's therefore quite probable Henderson would get to the Lords before August 2017.)

Posted by: Dan BD on Friday, 8 November 2013 at 10:24pm GMT

We all hope that the new structures will be a success, but let us not mince words: this change represents a significant tactical retreat by the Church in Yorkshire. Whilst it cannot be denied that the Bradford and Wakefield dioceses were unduly small, and their demographics have changed quite radically in the last few decades, the suppression of three dioceses has something of the appearance of a rout about it. If memory serves, Wakefield was unwilling to commit hari-kari - but their objections were to no avail.

Moreover, many of the pre-existing structures immediately below the level of diocesans will be retained, so what substantive savings will be made?

Although we have seen dioceses being suppressed on exceptional occasions since the Norman Conquest (absent the general abolition of episcopacy in 1646) - for example, the suppression of Westminster in 1550 - the simultaneous reduction of three established dioceses is quite unprecedented.

Where Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield have gone other sees might follow (Bristol? Portsmouth?).

This development might prove to be an ominous portent.

Posted by: J Drever on Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 12:39am GMT

The map shows a ridiculous geographical area. It only makes sense from the south of Skipton. What do the others going further north have to do with Leeds?

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 6:26am GMT

My diocese of Edmonton in western Canada has 55 parishes, spread out over a geographical area much larger than that of the new diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. And it is financially viable.

I find it hard to discover how many parishes the new diocese will have, but the website of the current diocese of Wakefield shows 79 parishes with websites; I suspect there are many more that do not have websites. So I can't see that Wakefield is 'unduly small'.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 9:07am GMT

Tim. Last page of Statement of Needs sets out the data you want.

Posted by: Malcolm on Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 10:19am GMT

Tom Butler, of course, promoted Nick Baines from their previous diocese of Leicester to become an archdeacon and then area bishop in Southwark. If it is 'Baines for Leeds' then the handover from the last remaining bishop of the three dioceses to Butler and then back to Baines should at least be between guys who know each other!

Posted by: peter kettle on Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 6:16pm GMT

Thanks Malcolm. So the smallest of the current dioceses is three times the size of my diocese (in terms of number of parishes), spread over a much smaller geographical area. If finance is what's driving all this, I can't see why the current dioceses can't be made viable.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 6:49pm GMT

Stephen Platten is the first Bishop of Wakefield in ages not to progress to a more significant diocese. Colin James to Winchester, David Hope to London then York and Nigel McCulloch to Manchester. Let it not be forgotten that the first Bishop of Wakefield William Walsham How turned down the offer of Durham.

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 9 November 2013 at 10:44pm GMT

I don't think financial viability should be the primary consideration or driving force for diocesan reorganizations. In Canada, we have the current example of the dissolution of Keewatin and creation of a new diocese, not determined by finance but by mission priorities -- the old boundaries just did not make sense any longer. Similarly, in the Province of Canada, the Provincial Council has sidestepped any move toward a consolidation of dioceses for financial reasons, while continuing to look at how cooperation (which may or may not lead to eventual mergers or changes of boundaries) can enhance mission.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 1:00am GMT

And your point is, Father David? Please expand for I can't see (yet) that it has any relevance.

Posted by: RPNewark on Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 10:22am GMT

A mere observation RPNewark, a mere observation. Although in former times there were what were known as Bishoprics of Work and Bishoprics of Ease. For example, after wearing himself out as Bishop of Southwark, Cyril Garbett became Bishop of Winchester where he was able to sufficiently recover his strength in order to take on the onerous task of being Archbishop of York. Whoever become the first Bishop of the Anglican mega-diocese of Leeds will indeed have to be a "resilient leader" to cope with the heavy demands of the most populous diocese in the Church of England.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 4:26pm GMT

Father David, where do you get this figure? The Diocese of London will still have a population about one million more than the new mega diocese of Leeds.

Posted by: Christopher Hobbs on Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 9:49pm GMT

Tim Chesterton asks why the current dioceses cannot be made viable. That is a very interesting question.

My theory (which might deserve to be shot down) is that many dioceses are operating on a financial knife edge. They have significant overheads - not just in terms of management, buildings and stipends - but, more specifically pensions.

It is worth remembering that the Church Commissioners (with the sanction of Synod) passed the liability for almost all pensions to the dioceses with effect from January 1998. The Commissioners retain the liability prior to that date.

Now that decision was made at a time of seemingly endless and increasing returns on investments. Of course, the stock market bubble had burst by 2000 or so, and real returns have been either mediocre, uneven or worse since that time. We are in an extended era of negative real interest rates and diocesan fund managers cannot take advantage of compounding. Deficits on pension funds are therefore a fact of life. However, with ageing and shrinking congregations, it is not as though such fund managers can tap rising profits to make up shortfalls in funds, in the way many private companies can as the profit share in the UK economy continues to increase.

Moreover, the Church is top-heavy with retirees (and their spouses) who are becoming increasingly long-lived - even though clergy pensions are niggardly.

The dioceses assumed this liability when many already lacked sufficient reserves. They have since been forced to engage in various exigencies in order to keep the show on the road. This is - just - possible in some parts of the country. But elsewhere, in a place like Bradford, which is less well off, and where the Christian share of the population has declined steadily, the Church might have run out of road.

Personally, I would far rather dioceses are wound up than parishes (especially historic parishes), if that is what is necessary in order to maintain the witness of the Church in local communities. It is otherwise a perverse paradox for parishes to be killed off so that the clergy who have served them might live. So, whilst the liquidation of some older dioceses is a painful option, it is, arguably, the least worst one.

Posted by: J Drever on Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 11:41pm GMT

Dear Christopher Hobbs, with regards to the new mega-diocese of Leeds being the "most populous" see the introductory paragraph above where it is thus described. Thinking Anglicans get this information from a report in the Church Times.

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 11:54pm GMT

"even though clergy pensions are niggardly." J Drever

The Church of England Defined Benefits Scheme is an excellent 'final salary' scheme providing non-contributory pensions of up to two-thirds of final salary, index-linked to RPI. Schemes this generous are becoming increasingly rare and are the sort usually referred to in the press as 'gold-plated' rather than 'niggardly'! Two-thirds of not a lot may not be a lot but the scheme itself is first class.

That aside, I agree with the rest of your analysis.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Monday, 11 November 2013 at 8:28am GMT

From the information in Church Statistics published by the Church of England the new diocese will be a lot smaller than London, somewhat smaller than Chelmsford and similar to Southwark in population.

Posted by: Christopher Hobbs on Monday, 11 November 2013 at 3:16pm GMT

Dear Christopher Hobbs thank you for that correction. The new mega diocese of Leeds may not be the most populous but is it the largest in area? If so, does it cover more of England that the diocese of Lincoln which, I understand to be the largest in area prior to the creation of the diocese of Leeds? In his recent Presidential address to the Lincoln Diocesan Synod the current bishop told a story of when his predecessor was appointed as the new diocesan. Bishop Hardy was attending a meeting of newly appointed diocesans and they were all waxing lyrical in overblown glowing terms about their dioceses. When it came to Bishop Bob's turn he said " The diocese of Lincoln is two and a half thousand miles of bugger all!". Bishop Christopher Lowson then added the caveat that his diocese is actually " two thousand six hundred and seventy three miles of bugger all

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 11 November 2013 at 4:17pm GMT

I agree with Concerned Anglican that the departure of two of the existing bishops, with the perfectly timed sabbatical of the third, exactly between the announcement of the new appointment and the inauguration of the new diocese, and the involvement of +Tom Butler, who has favoured him before, does make it look very much like a shoo-in for +Nick Baines.
I have nothing against him, but I thought the CoE's appointment process was supposed to be more open and inclusive than this would imply. Also, it might be less provocative to hurt feelings in the former dioceses if the new bishop was not one of the existing three.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Monday, 11 November 2013 at 5:08pm GMT

No CNC related appointment is a shoo-in, simply because they always see more than one candidate, and the 6 Diocesan members are different in each appointment. The voting can't therefore be controlled by the central members. Nick would in my view be an excellent candidate for what will be an extremely difficult task. It's not an open process, though it probably ought to move in that direction. But there are no guarantees that anyone, however obvious they might be as the person most suitable for the office, will be a "shoo-in".

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Monday, 11 November 2013 at 6:16pm GMT

The CNC process will be no different for the new diocese of Leeds. Its six diocesan members have been elected (strangely predominantly from the diocese of Bradford) and the whole commission will consider a wide range of candidates, of whom the current Bishop of Bradford will be one. The candidate specification is clear, but exacting. It is most unlikely that the successful candidate is not already a bishop. He needs to have experience of an area scheme, quite apart from other skills, experience and qualities. That presupposes an existing diocesan or a high flying suffragan on the verge of preferment. There are not many candidates. I am not sure of the wisdom of listing names on TA, tempted though I am, but I have inputted some ideas. The Commission meets for the first time tomorrow and needs our prayers.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Monday, 11 November 2013 at 7:05pm GMT

Why all this fuss and anxiety about someone being a shoo in? It would seem to me that the present Bishop of Bradford would fit the new mega diocese of Leeds like a glove. So, if the cap (or mitre) fits, then let Bishop Nick wear it.

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 11 November 2013 at 7:09pm GMT

Anthony - how do you know that "the current Bishop of Bradford will be one" ? Leaking already!!

Posted by: Malcolm on Monday, 11 November 2013 at 8:39pm GMT

I really cannot think that Mr. Archer can be accused of "leaking" seeing as anyone is free to submit names as possible candidates to be the first bishop of the new mega diocese of Leeds. I think we can be sure that many people will be suggesting Nick Baines as the "resilient" one to become + Nicholas Leeds

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 11 November 2013 at 10:46pm GMT

Thank you +Pete and Anthony Archer for reassuring us that due process will be followed regarding this appointment. (I never really doubted it, although the unfortunate conjunction of announcements referred to earlier in this thread could easily be taken to suggest otherwise.) I add my prayers for the Commission meeting today.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 at 10:54am GMT

The thing about +Nick is that, before he is shunted out of office at Easter, the CNC will also have met to discuss the diocesan bishopric of his hometown, where he would also be excellent...

Posted by: tommiaquinas on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 at 4:16pm GMT

Having just seen the first BBC4 programme on Wakefield cathedral whoever is appointed the first Bishop of Leeds is going to have his work cut out in creating a sense of unity when the three former dioceses merge. Having created a beautiful and flexible nave to the glory of God it was so sad to see the Dean contemplating the future of a dissolved diocese.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 at 10:19pm GMT

Senior suffragans with Area Scheme experience, eh? A few of them: Dorchester, Willesden, Kingston, Buckingham, Wolverhampton...

Posted by: Dan BD on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 at 9:48am GMT

I see from the Clerical Whispers website that the new mega diocese of Leeds is just a mere 2425 square miles as opposed to the diocese of Lincoln's 2673 square miles - smaller by 148 square miles. I further note from the same blog that the current Bishop of Bradford is to go on sabbatical from 1st February until "the Appointed Day" (a phrase which always makes me think of the Parousia) - often a sure indication that the person who is taking the sabbatical is destined for higher things. With regard to tommiaquinas' hint that Bishop Baines might return to his home town of Liverpool - remember the Biblical injunction that "a prophet is not without honour except ....."

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 14 November 2013 at 5:38am GMT
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