The new Bishop of Bradford announced plans earlier this year to spend five weeks living in different parts of the region - and from February 8th to 12th he stayed with families on two local farms, visited several schools, saw projects in the area, and had pastoral meetings with clergy and lay leaders.
Bishop Toby said the aim of the initiative is to get an in-depth understanding of the needs of the area. “As a new bishop in my first few months in post,” said Bishop Toby, “my priority is to make my way around parishes in Bradford and District, getting to know people and seeing for myself what Jesus is doing in the different communities. I will be staying in people's homes, visiting clergy, churches, schools and community projects, meeting civic leaders and business people.”
Commenting on his stay in Ilkley, Bishop Toby said, “The perception outside of Yorkshire can be that the Bradford Episcopal Area is predominantly urban, forgetting its many rural communities, villages and smaller towns,” says Bishop Toby. “Having lived most of my life in cities, this week in the Ilkley Deanery has been a great introduction for me to God's church in some of the most beautiful countryside that England has to offer.”
(Visiting the Otley Christian resources Hub, left) The week concluded with a deanery open meeting held at St Margaret’s Church in Ilkley where Bishop Toby discussed the findings of his five day visit and there was discussion of the role of the deanery and its structures. Vicar of St Margaret’s and Area Dean of Ilkley, the Revd Canon Philip Gray, said "One of the benefits which reorganisation was supposed to bring was that bishops would be closer to parishes and people. We have seen that embodied this week with Bishop Toby’s visit as he has spent time meeting people, listening to them and sharing their concerns.”
On the video diary, Bishop Toby concludes, “I just want to finish by saying thank you to everybody who has welcomed me here in such an extraordinary way with such generosity. I have been touched by the love, generosity and openness I have received here and it has been such a blessing to me.”
(Left: being welcomed at All Saints by Vicar, Revd Patrick Bateman)
Other dates announced for the deanery visits are: Keighley Deanery: 19-23 April; Bradford North Deanery: 3-7 May; Airedale Deanery: 21-25 June; Bowling and Horton Deanery: 5-10 July.
(Pictured right on one of the two farms where he was staying - and now the picture being used for the Church Times Caption Competition of Feb 12th!)