Bradford Cathedral rang with the songs of hundreds of worshippers and guests as the Bradford Diocese celebrated its 95th – and final – anniversary.
Held on Saturday afternoon, the service was one of the final major events at the cathedral before Bradford Diocese is dissolved and merged with Leeds and Wakefield to become the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.
Guests such as past bishops and deans and the Lord Mayor of Bradford, the chairman of Ilkley Parish Council and the Mayor of Skipton, celebrated in a service attended by people from across the area.
The Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, who will soon become bishop of the new extended diocese, said the service “was not a funeral” but a celebration of 95 years of a very rich history.
The diocese was formed in 1919 by order of King George V, and will officially be dissolved on Easter Sunday.
Dean of Bradford The Very Reverend Jerry Lepine, welcomed the guests, giving thanks for the 95 years of the dicoese’s existence and looking towards the “potential and possibility” for its new beginning.
Bishop Baines said: “As we’re on the brink of a new future we want to celebrate all that’s gone before, including the faithfulness of the people of this diocese over the last 95 years.
“It’s not a funeral; it’s another stage in a process which, I am convinced, will enhance the life and work of the Church of England in the Bradford district.”
During the service he gave thanks for the diocese’s “diverse parishes, workplaces, schools and chaplaincies.” The local Mothers’ Union and schools throughout the diocese were also praised. Other guests on the day included the High Sheriff of West Yorkshire, Virginia Lloyd, and the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Sir James Hill.
After the service people were invited to view a display on the history of the Diocese in the Cathedral.
The Bishop will be inaugurated officially into his new role by the Archbishop of York on June 8 at a service in York Minster. An area bishop for Bradford will be appointed in the autumn.
The total population for the new diocese will be 2.6 million and will include 656 churches, making it the largest diocese in the country.