History will be made on Easter Sunday when the first new diocese in the Church of England for 85 years – the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales – comes into being, with the Bishop of Bradford at the helm.
The Right Reverend Nick Baines has been chosen as the first Bishop of Leeds, the official name of the new diocese.
Yesterday, the Archbishop of York, the Most Reverend Dr John Sentamu, announced he will act as Acting Bishop for the new diocese until his Confirmation of Election at a Service of Inauguration in York Minster on June 8.
Marking the end of the three former dioceses of Wakefield, Bradford, and Ripon and Leeds, thanksgiving services have been held in each cathedral.
On Sunday, Bishop Baines will lay down his pastoral staff on the altar of Bradford Cathedral.
In a pastoral letter to be read out in every church on Easter Day, Bishop Baines will call for the churches of the new diocese “to live out the resurrection in their local areas through prayer and commitment.”
“We’ve been given a unique opportunity to look afresh at what we do and why we do it, at who we are and for whom we exist,” he said.
“Together we can live out the resurrection on the ground in our parishes and institutions, offering a bold model, an incarnation, of resurrection hope.”
The diocese will be made up of five areas: Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield, each with its own Area Bishop and Archdeacon. It will become the largest in the country, running from Barnsley in the south, through West and North Yorkshire, to parts of County Durham in the north, covering an area of 2,425 square miles.
The Area Bishop for Bradford will be Bishop Tom Butler.
Bishop Baines said the changes would enable the churches to better serve the region’s 45,000 regular worshippers.
“This unprecedented organisational change will facilitate the Church’s mission, combining the intimacy of the local with the advantages of scale,” he said.
“It will enable the Church of England to have a coherent regional voice at the same time as paying attention to distinctive local character.”