Celebrations and farewells as former dioceses give thanks

Services of celebration and thanksgiving have been taking place across the new diocese marking the end of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield dioceses. In Bradford a service of celebration took place at the Cathedral on April 12th, while in Wakefield Bishop Stephen led a service this weekend (April 19th).. 

Wakefield - time capsule

A poem from the Poet Laureate, a time capsule buried deep in its cathedral and processions of clergy and civic leaders through the city’s streets have marked the celebrations to say goodbye to the Diocese of Wakefield.  Clergy and civic leaders marched  together through the streets of Wakefield on Sunday April 13 to the Diocesan Farewell Service in the cathedral where each parish brought a memento to be buried in a time capsule beneath the iconic building.

Bishop Stephen had commissioned and blessed a handmade chalice inscribed with the Wakefield Cross for every church to take away as a farewell gift to both celebrate and commemorate the end of the old diocese and to be used at the altar to look forward to the new. 

Said Bishop Stephen: “I wanted a gift that would serve both as a sign of thanksgiving for our life together as a diocese, and as a link with the transition to our new diocese.”

Ripon and Leeds journey into the future

Ripon Cathedral service

Ripon Cathedral was transformed into an imaginary railway complete with train driver and a guard on Mothering Sunday, March 30th, as representatives of every church in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds gathered for a Service of Thanksgiving marking the end of the diocese after  178 years, and the creation of the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales on Easter Day (April 20th).


Unusually, the congregation from across the diocese were seated in 35 circles each with a suitcase, some refreshments and items such as postcards, luggage labels and verses from the Bible, to take with them on the journey.

Bishop James and actors

The Service of Celebration  for the life of the diocese  was  led by the Bishop of Knaresborough, Rt Revd James Bell (above centre). The theme for the service was “At the Crossroads”  and  the Planning Group had focused on the  journey  from the past into a future in which Ripon and Leeds will join with Bradford and Wakefield dioceses to form the new diocese.

Two actors, Lynsey Jones (pictured above right) and Linsay Pooley (left),  playing a train driver and a guard, with  a major role in the service, leading the  congregation through the theme of the journey.

Among those who had been invited back for the service were the former Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, Rt Revd John Packer, former Archdeacon of Richmond Janet Henderson and former Diocesan Secretary Philip Arundel.

Bishop John Packer

Each church had been asked to contribute a photograph representing their work in the community, and these were shared with others and then placed in the suitcases to be taken into the future diocese.

Music was led by choirs from St Robert’s Church, Pannal, St George’s Leeds, St Aidan’s High School and


The climax of the service was the release of 175 balloons from the 35 cases as the joint choir sang Parry’s “I was glad.”

Then, with ‘food’ (tins of fudge) and water for the journey, the congregation were led out onto the West Front for the final prayers and words of encouragement for the future.

Chair of the Planning Group is the Archdeacon of Leeds, Ven Paul Hooper, who said, “The Diocese will be dissolved on Easter Day and will rise again as part of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

"These are exciting and challenging days for the Church and we trust that the worship has given us  fresh heart and inspiration as our faith is rekindled to face the challenges and opportunities of the future.”

The new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales comes into being on Easter Day, April 20th, 2014. 


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