One of the papers sent to General Synod members last week was the Dioceses Commission Annual Report for 2014 (GS Misc 1095). It is for information only, so will not be debated next month.
Two sections of the report might be of particular interest to readers.
The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales
7. 2014 saw the historic creation of the new Diocese of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales). The appointed day for the dissolution of the former Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield and the creation of the new diocese was Easter Day (20 April). The new diocese was formally inaugurated in a special service in York Minster on the Feast of Pentecost (8 June) at which Bishop Nick Baines’ Election as the Bishop of Leeds was confirmed. The Archbishop of York presided and preached and a special congratulatory message from Her Majesty the Queen was read out.
8. Most of the work of implementing the provisions of the Commission’s Reorganisation Scheme fell on those in the diocese, and the Commission wishes to pay tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly to make the vision a reality. This work is, however, on-going and much inevitably remains to be done. The Commission itself had specific responsibilities concerning the designation of interim diocesan structures (such as the DBF of the new diocese) and determining compensation for some office holders who would lose their posts under the terms of the Scheme, and appointed sub-committees to handle these tasks.
9. The Commission was very conscious that its Scheme was the first of its kind and, with this in mind, it commissioned one of its number, Professor Hilary Russell, to conduct an evaluation of the process. She conducted about 50 interviews with a range of interested parties in the course of the summer and her Report was published in December – see here.
10. While it needed to be recognised that the Scheme itself was a considerable achievement – being at the maximal end of anything envisaged under the Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure 2007 – the Report made a number of key recommendations for the future, including the following:
- The need for clearer articulation of the case for change; and better communication particularly to diocesan staff directly affected by the Scheme;
- The appointment of an adequately resourced facilitator early in the process, supported by a programme management board with representation from the Archbishop’s office, the dioceses, Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council;
- Better HR and pastoral support for individual post holders directly affected by the Scheme.
Professor Russell’s report is well worth reading in full. It should not be allowed to gather dust in Church House.
22. The Dioceses Commission is responsible for keeping both the provincial and the diocesan structure of the Church of England under review. Following the inauguration of the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales this year, the imbalance of the Provinces is now even more apparent with 12 dioceses in the Province of York and 30 in the Province of Canterbury.
23. The Commission has been encouraged by both Archbishops to review the boundary between the two provinces so as to create a more balanced archiepiscopal workload. The Commission intends to canvas the views of the House of Bishops at a future meeting.
Gavin Drake has these comments and suggestions on where the boundaries should be: Church of England considers moving the north-south divide.