Merger of cathedral dioceses a step nearer

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Plans to replace the dioceses of Ripon and Leeds, Wakefield, and Bradford with one new ‘super-diocese’ have taken a step closer to becoming reality.

The Dioceses Commission has agreed to press ahead with a draft merger scheme, which it said was a “once-in-a-generation opportunity for reinvigorating mission in the region”.

A revised scheme will be published by the end of October. Dioceses will then vote on the plans by March before a debate by the General Synod – the Church of England’s “parliament” – in July.

If it approves, the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales could be in place by next autumn.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, and the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, have both welcomed the news.

But the Dean of Wakefield has warned the move might threaten funding for two of the existing dioceses’ cathedrals, which he said would hit their services and opening hours.

The Very Revd Jonathan Greener said: “If the funding did go we would have to shut our doors some of the week.”

Closures would also lead to less voluntary giving from visitors, another major funding stream, he added.