Final plans to merge the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds with Wakefield and Bradford as part of an organisational shake-up to create a ‘super-diocese’ have been announced.
After two years of consultations and more than 100 submissions from individuals, churches, deaneries, local authorities and diocesan bodies the Dioceses Commission officially announced the revised reorganisation scheme on Wednesday, October 31.
The new single Diocese of Leeds would replace the dioceses of Bradford, Wakefield and Ripon and Leeds, with the Bishop of Leeds being in overall charge, if agreed by the separate synods next year.
An individual bishop will remain in Ripon, dedicating time to the parish and keeping in close touch with local people – in addition to having the final say on reorganising or cutting staff positions
The three dioceses of Bradford, Wakefield and Ripon and Leeds will cast a vote on the scheme at their synods in March 2013.
Under the proposals, all individual cathedrals – including Ripon Cathedral – will be retained on a co-equal basis, suspending fears that the move could threaten funding and services at the existing dioceses’ cathedrals.
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds Rt Rev John Packer said: “I very much welcome the way the commission has emphasised the mission opportunities which the new diocese will present.
“I am particularly pleased that the parishes of the city of Leeds will come together in a single episcopal area as this will enhance our ministry to the whole city.”
The Dean of Ripon Very Rev Keith Jukes said: “The future looks very exciting and it will be a personal privilege to support the move towards the new arrangements and to be part of them.”
The Dioceses Commission also emphasised that there will no plans to slash staff positions and that cuts will occur through “natural wastage”.
Chairman of the Commission, Professor Michael Clark, said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity which we believe must not be lost.”