Downing Street has today(Tue) announced that the Rt Rev Nick Baines, the Bishop of Bradford, will be the first Church of England Bishop of Leeds for the new Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales.
The diocese, which comes into being on Easter Sunday (April 20), will replace the current dioceses of Bradford, Ripon & Leeds and Wakefield and will be the largest geographically in the country.
It will be known formally as The Diocese of Leeds but will be referred to as the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales.
Nick Baines, 56, has been Bishop of Bradford for three years, and before that was Bishop of Croydon (in the Diocese of Southwark).
He read German and French at Bradford University and, before ordination, worked for four years as a Russian linguist at GCHQ.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said: “Bishop Nick brings a well-grounded understanding of the area he will serve, together with the vision, energy, and experience in strategic change, which will equip him for his ministry leading the church in mission across the new Diocese.
“He is well-known as a communicator of the Gospel, connecting with people outside the church as well as with parishioners.”
Nick Baines said: “It is a great honour and privilege – as well as an enormous responsibility – to be nominated to this post. I’m fully aware of the challenges this brings, but am confident that this new diocese will thrive.
“This unprecedented organisational change in the Church of England will facilitate the Church’s mission, combining the intimacy of the local with the advantages of scale.
“It will enable the Church of England to have a coherent regional voice at the same time as paying attention to distinctive local character.”
Nick Baines has a particular expertise and passion for communication and is known for his engagement with the media.
He has 8,000 followers on Twitter and his blog – “Musings of a restless bishop” – has attracted over 1.6 million hits and is read by over 5,000 people a week.
He’s frequently asked to comment nationally on topical issues and is regularly heard on the Chris Evans Show on Radio 2.
The extent of his writing includes comment pieces for broadsheet newspapers, popular books on Christian faith (he’s written six) and contributions to academic journals. He also chairs the Sandford St Martin Trust which promotes excellence in religious broadcasting through the presentation of annual awards.
He has a keen interest in music, literature, art, film, theatre and football. He’s married to Linda (a health visitor and artist) and they have three adult children: Richard, Melanie and Andrew, and two grandchildren.
The Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales will be made up of five Areas (Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield) each with its own Area Bishop. (Nick Baines will also be the Area Bishop of Leeds).
It retains the 3 Cathedrals – Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield - and will have 496 clergy, 656 churches and 256 Church of England schools.
It will run from Barnsley in the south, through West and North Yorkshire, to parts of County Durham in the north, covering an area of 2,425 square miles. The total population is 2,614,00; the majority of whom are concentrated in the southern part of the diocese.
Key dates; Easter Sunday, April 20 - The Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales comes into being.
June 8 Pentecost Sunday - At York Minster with the Archbishop of York - Inauguration of the Diocese and Confirmation of the Election of the Bishop of Leeds (at which point, The Rt Revd Nick Baines legally becomes the Bishop of Leeds).
Enthronements will take place in Bradford, Ripon and Wakefield cathedrals on three separate dates in the summer.
The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Stephen Platten will return to his roots and take on an historic London parish church - St Michael’s Cornhill - after the Diocese of Wakefield is dissolved.
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer has retired.