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Yorkshire merger moves to next stage

05 October 2012

THE Dioceses Commission has decided to press ahead with proposals to merge three Yorkshire dioceses, despite protests from Wakefield diocese ( News, 29 June).

The Commission has proposed that Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, and Wakefield should be abolished and replaced by a single, larger diocese ( News, 10 December 2010).

A statement released last week, says: "At its meeting on 26 September, the Commission was able to complete its consideration of all the submissions made to it on the draft Reorganisation Scheme for the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, and Wakefield.

"It carefully considered the representations made to it, both at this stage and earlier, and has unanimously decided to proceed with a draft scheme bringing all three dioceses together.

"The Commission firmly believes that the scheme represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for reinvigorating mission, which should be grasped."

Details of the revised scheme will be released by the end of this month. The Commission will also give its response to the various representations that have been made to it.

The criticisms of the scheme by the Bishop and Dean of Wakefield are implicitly acknowledged in the statement: "The Commission believes that the benefits to the Church's mission and ministry in West Yorkshire and the Dales will only be fully realised by a scheme embracing all three dioceses."

Professor Michael Clarke, who chairs the Commission, is quoted as saying: "The Commission is clear that this represents a remarkable and unique opportunity for the Church of England."

The scheme will be considered by the three diocesan synods affected before the end of March next year. The General Synod will be invited to debate the scheme in July next year. If agreed, elements of the scheme could be implemented as early as next autumn.

Welcoming the announcement, the Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, said: "I look forward to the publication of the revised scheme at the end of October." The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, said: "I look forward to this further opportunity to explore how a new, bigger diocese could enhance the work of the Church in this part of the country.

"As we explore the potential, and the pros and cons, it will test our creative vision, prophetic courage, and commitment, and will ensure that our eventual decisions are fully informed, and made for the right reasons."

The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, said: "We look forward to an open and honest debate within the diocese of Wakefield. It will be important that people holding a range of views on the proposal have an oppor- tunity to contribute to a wide-ranging and fruitful discussion before the diocesan synod votes next March."

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