HE WILL be a "resilient leader" with "enough confidence and
inner strength to use conflict creatively". He will tackle "dented
morale" among lay people, and chair a diocesan synod of more than
300 members. He will relish the possibility of a "huge change
programme" in the most populous diocese in the Church of
The statement of need for the diocese of West Yorkshire &
the Dales, published last Friday, makes clear the extent of the
challenge facing its first Bishop.
"This post is different from that of most diocesan bishops, who
inherit a diocese with pastoral, educational, missional, and
administrative functions fully operation," it reads. "In this
diocese, these all need to be conceived and created."
It envisages that the new Bishop will be "animated" by these
"exceptional new opportunities".
The creation of the diocese was approved by the General Synod in
July, after recommendations had been made by the Dioceses
12 July). It will bring together the dioceses of Bradford,
Wakefield, and Ripon & Leeds. The new diocese will come into
being on the Appointed Day: Easter Day, 20 April 2014.
The Crown Nominations Commission will meet on Tuesday and
interview candidates in January, before nominating the new bishop
in February. He will be elected during Easter week, immediately
after the Appointed Day and enthroned in the summer. The Bishop of
Leeds will have oversight of an area of 2425 square miles, with a
population of 2.5 million people. The statement notes the "growing
polarisation" of wealth in the area, and "areas of pocket
deprivation". There is also "significant cultural, ethnic, and
religious diversity". Bradford is expected to be a Muslim-majority
city within ten years.
The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer,
announced his retirement in September (News, 13
September). The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines,
will be taking sabbatical leave from 1 February until the Appointed
On Sunday, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres,
announced that the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen
Platten, had been appointed Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill, in
the City of London, and to serve as an honorary Assistant Bishop in
the diocese of London.
Bishop Platten, who was born in London and attended the
University of London, will take up the position in July. On
Wednesday, he said that he was "excited" about coming back to the
"I have been extremely fortunate in serving in a great variety
of places, including Oxford, Lincoln, Portsmouth, Norwich, and then
Wakefield. But London is the capital: it's a world city, and so in
every aspect of life, including the Church, it's a really
interesting and stimulating place."
In his new position as a parish priest, he looked forward to
"having a community and being concerned for individuals" -
something that he had enjoyed as Dean of Norwich - and also the
links to the wider community in the City of London.
He was "hoping that the church, which has a great musical
tradition, will become something of a liturgical centre, linking
with places elsewhere in Britain, where liturgy is taught and
reflected upon such as Mirfield, Sarum, and Westcott House,
The Wakefield diocesan synod voted by almost two to one against
the proposals of the Dioceses Commission (News, 8 March). On
Wednesday, Bishop Platten said: "There is a lot of sadness; there
are concerns; but people in general are concerned to make the best
of what comes out of it. I don't think there is a feeling of
negativity, but rather a feeling of how 'Do we make sure that those
things we are worried about, are acknowledged, and responded to
positively in the new world which will come out of it?' . . . I am
looking forward, and I hope that they are too.