By Howard Dobson, Church of England Communications Office
The Dioceses Commission has today published an interim progress report on its review of the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Sheffield and Wakefield, available online here: http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1300632/july2011progreport.pdf.
In November 2010, the Commission published for consultation a report recommending the replacement of the existing Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield with a single new diocese. The diocesan synods of all three dioceses have since voted in favour of the preparation of a draft reorganisation scheme. The Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield diocesan synods also specifically endorsed the proposal for a single diocese divided into five episcopal areas (local units of mission led by a bishop).
In its interim progress report, the Commission announces that, in the light of the responses it has received, it is drawing up a reorganisation scheme to replace the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield with a single new diocese, as well as draft instruments for the creation of episcopal areas. The draft scheme will be published in October 2011 and will be accompanied by a statement of the effect of the proposals on the mission of the Church of England, and a detailed estimate of the financial effect of the creation of a single diocese. The Commission is still working on the details of the scheme.
The Commission’s November 2010 report also made proposals about the boundaries of the proposed new diocese. The transfer of parishes between the new diocese and neighbouring dioceses would be covered by a second reorganisation scheme. The interim progress report indicates which parishes the Commission will include in this draft scheme, which will also be published in October 2011, accompanied by a statement of the effect of the proposals on the Church’s mission and a detailed estimate of their financial effect.
Both draft schemes will be subject to a statutory period of consultation lasting six months. After this, the Commission will decide whether to produce final draft schemes and if so, what their contents should be. Publication of the draft schemes in October 2011 will enable the proposals to be considered in detail by the dioceses and parishes concerned in the light of their effect on mission and their financial effect. It is only when (and if) final draft schemes are published thereafter that definitive decisions will be taken by the diocesan synods concerned and the General Synod.
The Commission has published its interim progress report in the interests of transparency and to facilitate further conversations with the dioceses about the details of the draft schemes. It is not looking for responses to the interim progress report, but will welcome responses to the draft schemes once they are published – in the light of prayer and reflection during the consultation period that will last from 1st November 2011 to 30th April 2012.