Sunday, 30 January 2011

Dioceses Commission; The Northern Archdeaconry

Above Littondale

Pen y Ghent in January

Ribblehead Viaduct
I've spent quite a bit of the weekend driving around the area of Yorkshire that forms the northern archdeaconry (the new archdeaconry of Richmond) in the Dioceses Commission's proposals for one large diocese for north and west Yorkshire. I have to say that putting most of Richmond and Craven archdeaconries together creates a very large area indeed! I know this is stating the obvious, but perhaps you don't realise just quite how huge until you have been driving on roads with 25% and 16% gradient sections for over two hours and discover you still have not crossed from one side to the other! I can see the coherence of  all the Yorkshire Dales working together and I can see that as regards organising support for parishes there will be advantages in having a dedicated area bishop of Ripon and an archdeacon giving a large part of their attention to rural life. Deaneries would remain much as they are except where parishes on the boundaries decide to move into other dioceses. But I am still wondering about the sheer size of the area. There is, of course, the precedent of the archdeaconry of Cleveland in the York diocese which also covers a vast and diverse area and yet holds together and achieves a sense of identity. Will our geography allow us to do the same? The northern and eastern dales run largely west-east while the western and southern dales run largely north-south and the main routes by which you can pass from east to west are limited; Hawes to Ribblehead, Pateleybridge to Grassington and Blubberhouses to Skipton. The roads in many places in the north are what I call 40mph roads - try to average more and you are likely to arrive late and feeling very frazzled! The eastern and southern areas of the archdeaconry are the populous areas and the A1, A684, A59 and A61 give good access to Ripon but it isn't easy to see how the most westerly areas would readily relate to Ripon. Going back on something I suggested in my initial comments on the Commision's report, it is quite difficult to see how the area bishop of such an area could also be the diocesan bishop and fulfill a role in the House of Lords as travel would be hugely time consuming.

I appreciated stunning countryside and met some lovely people on my wanderings and I popped into a couple of very welcoming churches - I enjoyed the music and the warm atmosphere at Haworth. What an amazing area we have been placed in and called to be stewards of! We must all keep thinking and talking and praying. Do please let me know what your thoughts are.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Janet, I've been meaning to look at your blog for a bit, but you know how it is, you never quite get round to the intention.

    One of my first thoughts on reading the report was how one Archdeacon could possibly cover the sheer size of the proposed Richmond archdeaconry. I can see the advantages of pulling together all the rural parishes, which will hopefully help them to focus on their mission context, which of course is very different to parishes in an urban context. I do wonder wher that leaves parishes such as mine which is a mix of suburban and rural and two churches with different mission profiles.

    Overall I think the report is good, but I do wonder if it is not radical enough and it is trying to make too many compromises regarding buildings and bishops. People here have all said that they feel no relation towards Wakefield at all and they see Leeds as the natural 'capital' of the area.

    I'm interested to see what comes from the feedback and if any changes are made to the proposal.

    John Rogers