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
Diocese of Wakefield background documents:
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)
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: