Thinking Anglicans

Diocesan reorganisation in Yorkshire

The General Synod will be asked next month to approve a proposal, from the Dioceses Commission, to unite the existing dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, and Wakefield, to form a single new diocese, to be known formally as the Diocese of Leeds.

The draft legal document can be read: The Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield Reorganisation Scheme 201-, and the usual explanatory memorandum is here.

Standing orders do not allow the synod to now amend the scheme as drafted. It can either approve it as it stands, reject it outright, or pass a motion for reconsideration of specific points in the scheme by the Dioceses Commission. The latter course of action will cause a significant delay before it comes back to synod.

The situation is not entirely straightforward because one of the three dioceses involved, Wakefield, voted in its diocesan synod to reject the scheme by a decisive margin. The other two dioceses, plus Blackburn and Sheffield (each of which is marginally involved due to proposed transfers of a small number of parishes out of either Bradford – to Blackburn or Wakefield – to Sheffield) all voted very strongly in favour of the scheme. The Archbishop of York was therefore obliged to make a decision whether or not to bring the scheme to the General Synod, despite the Wakefield rejection.

He did make a decision to do so, as explained in GS Misc 1050.

To understand what this dispute is all about, on the one hand there is a series of documents published by the Dioceses Commission. On the other hand the Diocese of Wakefield has a special website that contains another series of documents. The latter was announced in a dramatic full page advertisement on page 27 of last week’s Church Times.

Dioceses Commission background documents:

GS Misc 1049A – Moving Towards a New Dioceses for West Yorkshire and the Dales
GS Misc 1049B – The New Diocese and the Mission of the Church
GS Misc 1049C – Yorkshire Scheme for Financial Estimates

Minutes of diocesan synod meetings:
Blackburn
Bradford;
Ripon & Leeds;
Wakefield

Diocese of Wakefield background documents:

The leaflet: Why Wakefield voted against the proposals from the Dioceses Commission

The Minutes of the Diocesan Synod on 2 March when Wakefield rejected the proposals by 76 votes to 40 (same file as published by the Dioceses Commission)

Dioceses Commission – An Alternative Vision

An Assessment of The Dioceses Commission’s “Estimate of the Financial Effect of the Proposals” by the Chairs of the Boards of Finance of the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield

and there are several further papers linked on the Wakefield site.

Three further documents that are helpful in understanding the proposals:

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Jean MaylandIanEdward PrebbleAnthony ArcherFr Alan-Bury Recent comment authors
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Joseph Golightly
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Joseph Golightly

Isn’t there a Diocese of Leeds already. Surely in this age the Church of England should be a little sensitive to its ecumenical partner?

Stuart, Devon
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Stuart, Devon

Would that be the ecumenical partner that declares our orders to be “entirely null and totally void”?

Jean Mayland
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Jean Mayland

Yes it is the RC Diocese of Leeds whose last Bishop (now working for the Curia in Rome ) was a very hard man. Yet it is true that the RC Diocese has been Leeds since its establishment. The Anglican Diocese was Ripon with an ancient church as its Cathedral. A few years ago it added the name Leeds to Ripon. Now it seems ready to drop Ripon which I think is sad.

Benedict
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Benedict

I would like Jean Mayland to substantiate her comment about the last Bishop of Leeds being “a hard man.” In what ways can such a claim be proved please?

rjb
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rjb

Being a ‘hard man’ (or, I imagine, woman) may be a deplorable quality in a Christian, but I have noticed that it is often a tremendous asset in a bishop.

Tony Macpherson
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Tony Macpherson

Thanks for highlighting this – Its really important we have a national debate before a diocese is dissolved against its will.

Joseph Golightly
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Joseph Golightly

Stuart. Probably but the CoE has over the recent past totally ignored its ecumenical partners in both the Catholic and Orthodox churches on the sublect of women’s ordination. Don’t kid yourself that you accept catholic doctrine (Archbishop Fisher) and then ignore the comments. Best to accept that the CoE is protestant and go along with all that – no problems with that but don’t dabble!

Fr Alan-Bury
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Fr Alan-Bury

I must say that I too favour small where possible, but the material provided by the diocese of Wakefield to justify its survival is not very good. I, a natural ally, was not left crying “to the barricades”, in fact it seemed to me hat there was some obfuscation a deliberate ploy NOT to give the real reasons against this feared annexation.

Can someone tell a complete outsider: What is going on?

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

The days when a diocese can declare UDI are over; that’s what the Dioceses etc. Measure is all about. Sorry Wakefield.

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

Regarding Joseph Golightly’s original question, I can’t see that creating a “Diocese of Leeds” is remotely insensitive or an ecumenical partner. RC and Anglican bishops/archbishops of Southwark, Birmingham and Liverpool, and dozens of international examples, including four in New Zealand, seem to work adequately together.

Regarding Fr Allan-Bury’s question, I am also a complete outsider – about as far from West/North Yorkshire as one can get – so I may be wrong, but I understand that what we used to call churchmanship may be a factor. Isn’t Wakefield something of an Anglo-Catholic area?

Ian
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Ian

Whether Wakefield is as Angl Catholic as it once was, I think you will find that it was the very Catholic Bishop of Pontefract that voted in favour!

Jean Mayland
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Jean Mayland

In response to Benedict. I knew the previous R C Bishop of Leeds well when I worked for CTBI. He was Secretary to the RC Council of Bishops for England and Wales. I and Colin Davey ( now dead) my predecessor had numerous struggles with him about our ecumenical work and both received letters which were unspeakably horrid. We shrugged and pressed on. As Bishop of Leeds he chaired the RC Commission on the liturgy which undid the fruits of ecumenical co operation eg the ‘we’ form of the Nicene creed , the acclamations etc and took the RC Church… Read more »