Having let it be known that he was on sabbatical until April, the Bishop of Bradford was yesterday announced as the new Bishop for the Church of England Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales.
The Right Reverend Nick Baines successfully wrong-footed those who thought that he had not been chosen by 10 Downing Street to lead the biggest diocese in the country, which comes into being on Easter Sunday, April 20.
The former Bradford University student, Russian linguist at GCHQ in Cheltenham and Bishop of Croydon, now has two new jobs to look forward to. Under the new arrangement he will be both the Diocesan Bishop and the Area Bishop for Leeds.
The Diocese of Bradford will be subsumed in the new super diocese, along with Huddersfield, Wakefield, Leeds and Ripon, each of which will have an area bishop.
The Rt Rev Baines ceases to be Bishop of Bradford on April 20. He becomes Bishop of West Yorkshire and the Dales and the Area Bishop of Leeds on June 8 at a ceremony at York Minister.
He said: “One of my priorities will be the appointment of area bishops. There is a process to go through. We’ll be looking to people who can bring added value to the job. But Bradford can be assured that I want to build on what we have got.
The Bishop, who will be 57 this year, and his wife Linda were looking at their new home in Leeds today. Mrs Baines said she thought they would be leaving Bishopscroft, in Heaton, in April and moving across to Leeds in May.
The Rt Rev Baines said: “I have been part of the process that led to the new diocese, so I have ideas about how we might do things differently.
“The Church of England has not said ‘You will do this or that’. They have set the perameters and said ‘get on with it’. We are pioneers.”
Zulfi Karim, vice-president of Bradford Council for Mosques, believes the appointment will strengthen inter-faith work across the region.
He said: “This is a bishop who understands Bradford and the diversity of multi-faith issues very well. I think Bishop Nick will go into the job with a good understanding of how things work and give us the chance to link the dioceses of Leeds, Ripon, Wakefield, Huddersfield and Bradford together.
“As far as interfaith work goes maybe this was not as fruitful in the past. I believe that will be strengthened. As long as we can keep Nick as an advocate for Bradford it would be a good thing.”
Bradford Council leader, Councillor Dave Green, said: “I think he’ll do a good job for the whole of West Yorkshire but his links with Bradford means he has an insight into the challenges of the district.
“That can only help us when we are making representations on behalf of the city at a national level.”
For his new job as Bishop of West Yorkshire & the Dales, the Rt Rev Baines faces three enthronements in Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield in the summer.