Ever since Abram set out for Canaan, stepping out in faith has been part of the human response to God’s call. Not knowing every step of the way, but confident in the God who travels with us, we know that every journey begins with a single step. The major changes that await our diocese in many ways are a step of faith and this month I thought you would like to know about what is happening at present.
Bishop Tom Butler has been appointed as honorary Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Bradford and Bishop Nick has asked him to provide episcopal cover for the diocese during his sabbatical. Bishop Tom will also act as mentor bishop in the run up to the creation of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.
On 9 January the Crown Nominations Commission met and decided upon the person they think is most suited to be the first bishop of our new diocese and lead us in the next few years. As many of you already know, Bishop Nick Baines has just been nominated as the new, and indeed first, Bishop of Leeds.
The Church of England has never before reorganised itself so that three dioceses are dissolved and one new diocese created. This may seem like a job for the archangel Gabriel! The new bishop will certainly need the help and support of everyone because it is not a job he can do on his own. The new diocese will only be a success if we all play our part in creating it. In order to help the new bishop a process of consultations are being planned across the three dioceses so that we all share in the responsibility of creating a vision for our future.
During Lent, Bishop James and Tony Robinson will be visiting every deanery to meet with us, the local clergy and people. They are open meetings to which everyone is welcome. They will spend time at the beginning and end praying for our new diocese and the new bishop. But the important part of the meeting will be an opportunity for them to hear from you about what should be the key priorities for the new diocese and how you think they should organise our life together to be efficient and effective for the challenges of the 21st century.
Each part of the diocese will have its own needs and ideas. They want to hear them so they can produce a dossier of your ideas for the new bishop to consider when he begins in the summer. Please do come along to these meetings, but more importantly, come prepared to share your ideas and hopes for our new future together after Easter Day. Our local meeting is on Tuesday 18 March at Settle Parish Church, 7 for 7.30 pm.
Here is a prayer for our new dioceses:
Loving God, pour upon us, we pray, your Holy spirit and prepare us for the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales; send us a bishop to lead and encourage us; foster bonds of love that cross old boundaries; open our hearts and minds to new possibilities of welcome, witness and mission; and grant wisdom to all who shape our future in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Blessings to you all as together we move forward in faith.
Ian (Rev Canon Ian Greenhalgh)