Thinking Anglicans

Yorkshire – Dioceses Commission reports

Updated 9 and 19 January 2011: links updated to refer to the new Church of England website.

from here:

In the autumn of 2009 the Commission commenced a review of the five Yorkshire dioceses (Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Sheffield, Wakefield and York). The aim was to establish whether the shape and boundaries of the existing dioceses tend to facilitate the Church’s mission to the people and communities of Yorkshire or whether different boundaries would enable the Church to relate to them more effectively.

The Commission’s report on the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield, and their boundaries with the Diocese of York, has now been published and sent out for consultation.

A 16 page Guide to the Report, containing a brief overview of each chapter, together with the Summary of Recommendations and Conclusion, is available to download by clicking here.

For the full Report (127 pages), or to download individual chapters, click here.

Some other background documents can be found here.

The press release (website link is at last available) is reproduced below the fold.

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 .


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

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.

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Fr Mark
Fr Mark
13 years ago

“Overall, the diocese would have the same number of bishops as the current three dioceses but one fewer archdeacon.”

Feeble. As has been pointed out elsewhere, over the last 150 years, the number of faithful laypeople in the pews has plummeted, the number of full-time clergy steadily declined and yet the number of bishops increased threefold.

Simon Sarmiento
13 years ago

From Bradford diocese: A Letter from the Rt Revd David Hope Dear Colleagues The attached Review Report from the Dioceses Commission on the future of the Yorkshire Dioceses was received yesterday and I met with the Bishop’s Staff to have a preliminary look at the document. We welcome the priority the report places on mission and outreach as we discuss possible reshaping of Diocesan boundaries. Whilst, at this early stage, we are not entirely convinced that the proposals are the best way forward, and we would wish to correct a number of the assumptions and comments in the report… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
13 years ago

Ripon press release …Commenting, the Rt. Revd John Packer said, “I want to welcome the Report, and thank its authors for the thoroughness and time spent in its preparation. It is important to stress that these proposals will not affect in any way the church’s commitment to a Christian presence and pastoral care in every parish of West and North Yorkshire. I hope that the report will be discussed positively across the diocese bearing in mind that the guiding principle of the Dioceses Commission is the mission of the Church of England, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical. There may… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
13 years ago

Wakefield diocese has a PDF file press release at

Unsurprisingly they do not express any negative view.

Simon Sarmiento
13 years ago

Sheffield diocese comment from

The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, has urged members of his own Diocese and fellow Anglicans across Yorkshire to reflect carefully and thoughtfully on the findings of a Commission published today looking into the future boundaries of Church of England dioceses in the north of England…

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
13 years ago

“a strong element of devolution within a context of rationalization”

Would someone translate for this clueless Yank?


“a context of rationalization?”

Simon Sarmiento
13 years ago this is a standard term in UK government, e.g. the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Ireland governments are devolved (from Westminster).

“Rationalization” means “cuts”. In this case cutting out two entire diocesan offices (and one archdeacon). Although the new mega-diocesan office would certainly need some of the staff now employed in the three existing ones, it would not involve so many all together, especially not so many top level posts. So there would be significant savings on accommodation costs, and on salaries, etc.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Cynthia Gilliatt
13 years ago

Simon, thanks. Neither term is ordinarily used quite like that in the States – but I don’t read a lot of government-generated writing, so may not be aware of those usages. The American Diocese of Southwestern Virginia has a companion relationship with Bradford. I am licensed to serve as a suppply priest in that neighboring Diocese, where I serve a tiny mission twice a month.

Father Ron Smith
Father Ron Smith
13 years ago

“it would not involve so many all together, especially not so many top level posts. So there would be significant savings on accommodation costs, and on salaries, etc.” – Simon Sarmiento – From the point of view of another Province of the Communion – this would seem to be an eminently common-sense move towards harnessing the scant resources of the Church at this time in its history of mission. It may be that, when the Church re-orients its mission towards radical inclusion of ALL people – regardless of race, gender, political affiliation, civil status or sexual-orientation, there could be further… Read more »

Malcolm French+
13 years ago

So the rationalization” involved closing two offices and laying off several (mostly female?) professional and clerical staff while preserving all but one of the (mostly male) senior clerical appointees,

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