CHURCH leaders in Blackburn
have voted to accept six parishes from the Bradford diocese as part
of plans to establish a "super-diocese" based on Leeds (
News, 8 March).
The transfer is part of the
proposals to create a new see of West Yorkshire and the Dales from
the three existing dioceses of Wakefield, Bradford, and Ripon &
A Blackburn synod meeting
last Saturday voted by 104 to one - with one abstention - in favour
of incorporating the Ribble Valley parishes of Hurst Green, Mitton,
Waddington, Grindleton, Bolton by Bowland, and Gisburn.
Both Bradford and Ripon
& Leeds have already voted in favour of the super-diocese plan,
but the likely outcome was clouded when Wakefield rejected the idea
by a majority of two to one.
Now the Blackburn vote has
increased pressure on the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, who has
to decide whether to ignore the Wakefield vote and press ahead with
the proposal, or to look for an alternative solution.
This week, his spokesman
said that Dr Sentamu had not yet come to a decision, but had "at
least a week or two" before he needed to list any motion on the
merger, which is due for debate at General Synod in July.
The Blackburn vote had been
expected, after research by the Diocesan Commission, which drew up
merger proposals, had shown that the majority of the Ribble Valley
churches tended to look more towards Clitheroe and Blackburn for
A Blackburn diocesan
spokesman said: "The report stated the parishes were a 'coherent
pastoral and geographical grouping', and moving them, and other
parishes around the edges of the proposed West Yorkshire and the
Dales diocese, would help to bring all diocesan boundaries more in
line with county boundaries and bring the Church's structures
closer to those of civic society."
But the Priest-in-Charge of
St Helen's, Waddington, the Revd John Brocklehurst, told his local
paper, The Citizen, that his parish had "mixed feelings"
about the move. "It's painful, really, as we voted against it," he
said. "I can see it is a good idea for the three dioceses to merge,
but, as a rural parish, there may be more possibilities for us if
we were not to move into the diocese of Blackburn."