Moves to allow the suffragan Bishop of Richmond to be retitled the Bishop of Kirkstall have moved a step closer after the proposal received overwhelming backing from the General Synod (or ‘parliamant’) of the Church of England, meeting in London today, Friday 9 February.
The suffragan ‘See of Richmond’, a title last used in 1921, was revived in 2015 to provide a swift means of creating an additional and much needed Area bishop without the need to gain Synodical approval.
The Ven. Paul Slater was duly appointed to the role and consecrated as Bishop of Richmond in Ripon Cathedral on 19 July 2015 with his main responsibility becoming pastoral oversight for Leeds itself , one of five ‘Episcopal Areas’ in the new Diocese of Leeds.
With Richmond itself lying in North Yorkshire, 56 miles north of the Episcopal Area served by the new area bishop, the Leeds Diocesan Synod agreed in October 2017 to support a proposal to change the Bishop of Richmond title to Bishop of Kirkstall, the seat of an ancient monastic foundation at Kirkstall Abbey in the City of Leeds, not far from Headingley Cricket Ground.
Putting forward the proposal at General Synod, Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines (pictured above left) said, “Lovely though Richmond is, the name is misleading. No amount of explanation seems to help clarify the remit and purpose of the role.
“This is why I, with the support of the Leeds Diocesan Synod and the Dioceses’ Commission, bring this motion to the Synod today. If the original scheme was intended to enhance the longer term mission of the church in this part of Yorkshire , as indeed it was and is doing, then we need one more change in order to remove an obstacle to that mission.”
The Archbishop of York, Most Revd Dr John Sentamu also supported the motion. “When the diocese came into being there were a lot of things that were not known. The Bishop of Leeds, being also the area bishop of that particular episcopal area, it became very clear that if he was going to grip what was needed to be done he would need an assistant bishop who would have the pastoral care for that particular part. ..Synod please endorse what is being asked .”
Following the full endorsement of General Synod, a petition will now be placed before Her Majesty the Queen seeking final approval for the change of name from Richmond to Kirkstall.