Diocesan Synod accepts ‘innovative’ governance proposals

Diocesan Synod met for the second time on Saturday (at St Aidan's School in Harrogate), and in its main debate accepted proposals for a new system of diocesan governance.

Presidential Address
In his presidential address, Bishop Nick said that aim of setting up a new system of governance was so that “our energies and resources get directed to prayer, evangelism, nurture, teaching and worship, and don't exhaust us all in too much bureaucracy or administration”. He added that creating structures of accountability and governance cannot be an end in itself: “If the doing of this is characterised by anything other than love-exercising-trust, then we are not the church we are called to be”.

He concluded, “I pray that, rooted in prayer and selflessness, we will keep our focus today and in the future, not confusing ends with means, not settling for mere tidy pragmatism, but being fired with love for Jesus Christ and a commitment to live in and for him in the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the world.”
Bishop Nick’s address can be read here.

Governance of the Diocese
The central proposal for the governance of the diocese is that, in order to reduce bureaucracy and to increase efficiency and coherence, there will be a single main board which will address strategy and policy and will be accountable to the Synod. This will ensure that those who make policy decisions also take responsibility for financing them.

Under the new scheme, Area Bishops will work with people in their areas to support local communities and develop the mission of the Church on the ground. Advisory groups and task and finish groups will enable laity and clergy input into many areas of diocesan business.

Synod members will be members of the new Diocesan Board of Finance Company, thereby strengthening their role. They will also form scrutiny groups to explore diocesan activities - similar to Parliamentary Select Committees. 

The proposals had been revised in the light of comments made at the diocese’s first synod in November. One of the changes was the addition of 2 lay and 2 clergy synod members to be elected to the WYAD board. A further amendment (proposed by Dr John Hartley) to make the diocesan secretaries non-voting members, was carried.

The motion to adopt the governance proposals was unanimously carried and they will begin to come into effect after the election of the new Diocesan Synod in the autumn.

The Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd John Dobson (one of the project team who developed the proposals), said, "Within this new structure Episcopal Areas are freed to develop mission and ministry in partnership with parishes and deaneries in exciting ways. At the same time, all Areas are held together in unity within the one diocese by the Diocesan Synod’s direction and the Board’s leadership.

"This structure will not do the ministry and mission that is the responsibility of the parishes, deaneries and episcopal areas, but it provides the supportive and enabling framework in which they are free to respond to God’s prompting and to develop as confident communities nurturing confident Christians".

The full governance document can be read here.

Update on the Transformation Programme
Synod members were given an update on the work that is going on as the new diocese continues to take shape. It notes personnel changes, work that is being standardised across the diocese and the departments that are under review. 
You can read the update here.

Appointment of Diocesan Secretaries
It was announced that Debbie Child and Ashley Ellis have now been appointed as Joint Diocesan Secretaries.

Change of names of Suffragen Sees
Approval has been given for the names of the suffragen sees of Knaresborough and Pontefract to be changed, so now the respective Area Bishops can officially be called the Bishop of Ripon and the Bishop of Wakefield.

Sanctions on benefit claimants
At the diocesan synod in July, a motion will be put forward concerning the devastating impact that sanctions are having on benefit claimants. Canon Gordon Dey asked members to prepare by reading ‘Feeding Britain’ - an all-party parliamentary enquiry into hunger and food poverty in Britain, and ‘Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions’, a document produced by the Joint Public Issues Team. He urged parishes and deaneries to discuss the issue at PCCs and Deanery Synods to make more people aware of the situation. For further information please contact gordondey1 [at] gmail.com (Gordon Dey).

New Assistant Bishop
The Rt Revd John Pritchard (the former Bishop of Oxford and Chair of the National Board of Education), who has moved to North Yorkshire in his retirement, was appointed as Honorary Assistant Bishop. (The other Assistant Bishops are the Rt Revd Clive Handford and the Rt Revd David Hawkins).


Thanks to Peter Mojsa
Bishop Nick paid tribute to Peter Mojsa for his 23 years of service to both the Diocese of Ripon & Leeds (mostly as Deputy Diocesan Secretary) and the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales (as Synodical and Administrative Secretary), as he moves on to work with the All Churches Trust. More here.



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