Over the past few weeks, Bishop Nick has been visiting each of the episcopal areas so that everyone in the diocese has an opportunity to meet the diocesan bishop. He began in Wakefield when, over supper with around 100 clergy and lay people, he explained the timeline for the structural shaping of the new diocese and outlined what he sees as our priorities.
Huddersfield, Ripon and Leeds Areas have also now been visited and conversations have covered issues such as the 'governance' of the new diocese. Bishop Nick said that by the end of 2014 the new governance and area model should be established which will enable us to gradually migrate into the new diocese over 2015, and so by 2016 the new diocese will be fully up and running.
But, he said, "All the structural stuff is to enable our core calling as a diocese which is to be a vibrant Church with confident clergy enabling confident Christians to live and tell the Good News in West Yorkshire and the Dales."
And he said that it's crucial that the Church is intentional - or deliberate - about growth: "People don't become disciples by accident or by liturgical osmosis. All churches should have some sort of nurture course for new Christians, because, if we don't, there's an assumption there will be no new Christians - and that expectation will be met".
He said that we need to recover our nerve about articulating the gospel in the public square, while understanding the culture in which we find ourselves: "Jesus grabbed people's attention using images and stories - not propositions. We can change the rumour about God and the Church and we can inspire people if, by really paying attention to the language we use, we tease imaginations and awaken curiosity".
The final visit, to the Bradford Area, takes place on Wednesday 10 December from 5pm - 8pm at the Thornbury Centre, Leeds Old Road, Bradford. If you would like to attend please contact Sylvia Johnson, sylvia.johnson [at] westyorkshiredales.anglican.org