Church of England proposals to scrap the Bradford Diocese – which includes Keighley – and replace the diocesan Bishop with an area Bishop have moved a step closer to reality.
The Dioceses Commission has completed its consideration of all the submissions made to it on the draft Reorganisation Scheme for the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield.
It unanimously decided to proceed with a draft scheme bringing all three dioceses together and to publish the detail at the end of this month.
Commission chairman Professor Michael Clarke said: “On behalf of the commission I would like personally to thank everyone who has made representations to us. A revised scheme will be published next month.
“All three dioceses will then have a chance to decide whether they share our vision, which has been drawn from our discussions in Yorkshire over the past two years, that the proposals will better enable them to advance their mission to the communities which they serve.
“The commission is clear that this represents a remarkable and unique opportunity for the Church of England.”
The commission believes that £800,000 could be saved over five years if the proposals are accepted. The diocesan synods affected have until March next year to decide whether to support them before the matter goes before the General Synod, the Church of England’s parliament, for debate in July.
By this time next year the Bishop of Bradford might know whether he is still in a job. The Right Reverend Nick Baines was aware of that possibility when he came from Croydon last year.
He has voiced his support for reorganisation, agreeing that the Church’s structures no longer reflect social, economic and demographic realities on the ground, and that the Church needs a single diocese for the people and communities of West Yorkshire and the Dales.
Responding to the Commission decision, the Bishop said: “I welcome the decision by the Dioceses Commission to go ahead with the proposals for a new diocese for West Yorkshire and the Dales. The publication of the revised scheme next month will provide greater detail which all three dioceses will consider before they vote on the scheme next March.
“I look forward to this further opportunity to explore how a new, bigger diocese could enhance the work of the church.”