THE Synod has requested legislation to enable a diocese to be
named after a "geographical area" as well as a city or town.
Ian Fletcher, introducing the motion from
Bradford diocesan synod, argued: "The naming of any entity is
important to its success and local relevance." It would address the
fact that many areas, such as the diocese of Ripon & Leeds,
contained more than one city. The motion was "permissive".
The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd
John Packer, spoke "very strongly" in support of the motion. His
diocesan synod had carried an identical motion. There was a need to
find a name that "accurately describes the diocese we are in the
process of creating", and West Yorkshire & the Dales "describes
The Revd Paul Cartwright (Wakefield) questioned
whether this was really needed. Throughout the Synod, the new
diocese had been spoken about and referred to as the diocese of
West Yorkshire & the Dales. He cautioned: "I do see a problem
with taking a regional name." There was "more chance to change
administrative titles compared to areas". He resisted the
Canon Simon Butler (Southwark) spoke in support
of the motion. The diocese of London was named after a city, but
"represents only part of that city".
Chris Pye (Liverpool) supported the motion
"wholeheartedly. . . Leeds is a small part of Yorkshire, and this
title of the diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales describes
the area covered very well. It gives a different picture, a
different identity, and that is important to people if they lose
The Archdeacon of Nottingham, the Ven. Peter
Hill (Southwell & Nottingham), vice-chairman of the Dioceses
Commission, reported that members of the Commission had been
"surprised and disappointed by the legal restriction" requiring
dioceses to be named after a city, and said that they were
"entirely sympathetic to the title West Yorkshire & the Dales.
Having that title as the headline rather than the subhead would be
more helpful to mission and context," he said.
While supporting the motion, he expressed concern that there
might be "a queue of diocesan bishops and others wanting to change
the name of their diocese". He was grateful that the motion
referred to "geographical areas", as this would stop the next
Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham seeking to change the name to
the "Diocese of Robin Hood" or "Maid Marion".
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen
Cottrell, gave a cautious welcome to the motion, but explained that
he was still not sure how he would vote. "We need to be aware of
the . . . serious ecclesiological and theological reasons about the
nature of church and the way that we organise ourselves," he said.
"He wasn't Jesus of the Palestinian Area: he was Jesus of Nazareth.
There is a pattern in the Christian faith about the particularity
of people and place which I am slightly anxious about losing."
"The Barking episcopal area, were it to be a diocese in its own
right, would be the 11th largest in the Church of England. We serve
a vast area, and yet we are the diocese of Chelmsford, with a
particularity and a place."
He concluded: "Whatever we do, just as we call it East London
and Essex, you're going to call it West Yorkshire and the Dales. Is
this really something that we need to vote on?"
The Revd Celia Thomson (Gloucester) remarked
that the rural communities in the Dales were "a very large distance
from Leeds". The motion would give "some identity back" to the
northern part of the diocese.
The Synod carried the motion:
That this Synod call on the Archbishops' Council to
introduce legislation to enable dioceses of the Church of England
to be named by reference either to a city or substantial town or to
a geographical area.