The General Synod of the Church of England today voted overwhelmingly in favour of the creation one new, single diocese for West Yorkshire and the Dales in place of the current Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield.
Bishop Nick says, "I'm delighted that the General Synod has shown vision for change and demonstrated confidence in the Church of England in West Yorkshire and the Dales to shape its future ministry and mission. The hard work now begins. With gratitude for all that lies behind, I now look forward with confidence to all that lies ahead."
A timeline will now be set out in order to begin the process of migration to and creation of the new diocese. It is expected that this process, beginning with immediate preparatory work, will lead to an 'Appointed Day' some time in January/February 2014 after which the new legal entity will exist and the three old entities cease.
Bishop Nick adds, "As the detailed work to see the new diocese into being goes on, it will be a challenging time, but also (particularly as the Church of England has never done this sort of work before), a time pregnant with opportunity.
"In the meantime, while the 'plumbing' is being re-routed, our churches will be unaffected by the changes going on around them - the dedicated worship, discipleship, social and pastoral care will continue. And the communities we serve can be confident that, once through, this change will serve them better in the future than can the status quo."
The new diocese for West Yorkshire and the Dales will be made up of five areas (Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield), each with their own area bishop. The Diocesan Bishop will be the Bishop of Leeds (and also the area bishop for Leeds), although the diocese will be known as the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales. All three cathedrals will be retained on an equal basis (each with distinctive missional strategies). In its proposal, the Dioceses Commission said that “A single diocese would combine the best of the intimacy of the local with the advantages of scale.”