New Bishop of West Yorkshire and the Dales Nick Baines 'excited' at new challenge

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: ‘EXCITING’: Nick Baines will sit in the Lords after being enthroned as Bishop for West Yorkshire and the Dales ‘EXCITING’: Nick Baines will sit in the Lords after being enthroned as Bishop for West Yorkshire and the Dales

Tomorrow the new Bishop for West Yorkshire and the Dales will be enthroned at Bradford Cathedral in the middle of three ceremonies marking his selection for the historic role.

Yesterday, Bishop Nick Baines was at Wakefield Cathedral and on Sunday will make his final oaths at Ripon Cathedral on its famous 13th century Bible.

And it will have been a rather good week for Rt Rev Baines, who was delighted by the General Synod’s decision to approve women bishops – and who also supported Germany in the World Cup following England’s early demise.

Speaking about his new over-arching job, which will see him sit in the House of Lords and comes with a full diary of regional and international duties, Rt Rev Baines said he hoped to bring further benefits to Bradford.

He said: “It’s a bit messy at the moment as no diocese in the country has ever had three cathedrals before and I’ve got to get round a very large area.

“The new diocese will take18 months or so to take shape to then enhance worship and grow a confident church.

“It’s very exciting and I’m busy working at the nuts and bolts,” Rt Rev Baines said.

A refreshed confidence in Christianity is the one thing he aims to build across the multi-cultural area he now oversees.

“There is a common wealth in Yorkshire, it’s a unique place with unique people as well as being one of Britain’s most beautiful places.

“We have a rich industrial heritage and have had every invasion possible from Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans, the whole lot.

“And immigration in the last century has greatly enriched our culture - I mean where else would you go for a good curry but Bradford?”

The relatively recent rise of Islam in Britain has seen numbers of devout Muslims increase from 1.6million in 2001 to 2.7million in the 2011 census, while conversely the Church of England’s own figures show less than 800,000 now regularly attend its Sunday services.

However Rt Rev Baines said his new job was not about hurriedly putting “bums on pews,” but to strengthen within the Christian community which would lead to that goal.

“Of course we need more Christians and the church is out there on the streets.

"But what we need is more, confident Christians.

“We want more people to find that in Jesus Christ they have been found by God.

“Anyone can focus on getting bums on pews – I’ve always said it’s not hard to fill a church.

“You can put on the appropriate show and you can pile people in, and there is indeed a place to do that – to tease people’s imagination or awaken curiosity in what is a great market place of faith.

“But getting bums on pews doesn’t mean you make disciples of Jesus.

“Christians have to be confident and not hesitant about saying ‘this is what I believe about the God, the world and us.’”

While fulfilling his new duties, Rt Rev Baines said he would also be doing his best to promote Bradford and address the city’s needs.

“I love Bradford and I’m not really leaving, so it’s really a good double hit for the city.

“I will be able to focus on some of its issues with a national lens and get closer attention.”

One of his current jobs is selecting a new area bishop for Bradford and interviews of the all male contenders have taken place with an announcement expected in September.

“This is a time when we can all grow in confidence in God and in the Christian faith, be that in Leeds, London or here in Bradford,” Rt Rev Baines said.

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