THE diocesan synods of Bradford and Ripon & Leeds voted in
favour of their respective dioceses' being replaced by a single,
larger "diocese of Leeds", on Saturday. The proposals were rejected
by the Wakefield diocesan synod, however.
Bradford approved the scheme by 90 votes in favour to four
against, with no abstentions; Ripon & Leeds approved it by 70
votes to 18, with two abstentions; and Wakefield rejected the
scheme by 76 votes against to 40 in favour, with four
It is now up to the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, to decide
whether to place the scheme before the General Synod meeting in
July for a final decision.
Church House said in a statement that Dr Sentamu would have to
be satisfied either that "the interest of the diocese is so small
that the withholding of consent should not prevent the scheme being
submitted to the General Synod"; or that "there are wider
considerations affecting the province or the Church of England as
whole which require the scheme to be submitted to the General
Dr Sentamu will not announce his decision until Blackburn
diocesan synod has voted on whether to receive six parishes from
the three dioceses concerned. The vote takes place on 13 April.
Sheffield diocese has already voted in favour of receiving two
The chairman of the Dioceses Commission, Professor Michael
Clarke, said: "It is good to know that the dioceses of Bradford and
Ripon & Leeds support the commission's proposals. Looking at
the voting in Wakefield, there is also significant support there,
too, even though the vote was lost. The process, however,
continues. Blackburn votes next month. It will then be for the
Archbishop of York to decide how to take this forward."
The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, said that
the Bradford result was "very encouraging, and not entirely a
surprise". He continued: "I hope that when the Archbishop of York
makes his decision on a referrral to the General Synod in July, he
will bear in mind all the factors that have led to this particular
result. We look forward to how this will develop in the next few
The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, said:
"I welcome the clear approval of the diocesan synod for the scheme.
I am also grateful for the open and honest debate we have had.
There is work to be done both in establishing the financial basis
for the new diocese and in making sure that the northern area of
the new diocese is properly resourced and structured.
"I hope that this will mean the Archbishop of York can take the
scheme to General Synod in July - further delay and indecision
would be damaging to the mission of the church in this region. The
votes here and in Bradford send a positive message to the Dioceses
Commission and to General Synod."
The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, said:
"These last few weeks have been quite difficult for all three
dioceses, so this vote was a welcome end to that part of the
process. Now let us discover with prayer and consideration where
God is leading us all in this part of Yorkshire in the future."
Full coverage in this week's Church Times