I have not long got home from a tour of the cathedrals in Wakefield, Bradford and Ripon following the announcement this morning in Leeds of my nomination to be the first (Anglican) Bishop of Leeds for the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales – which will come into being on Easter Day. It has been a long day, and tomorrow will be similar as I go to visit the current diocesan offices in Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford.
I cannot count the number of text messages, tweets and emails that have poured in during the course of the day. When I was appointed to Bradford three years ago I replied to every individual message. I simply can't do it this time as the are hundreds of them and I don't know where to start. So, may I use this post to offer my deepest thanks to all who have been so generous and kind in their messages. I have felt encouraged and supported throughout the day and it makes the enormity of the task seem less daunting.
Perhaps the most encouraging thing is a point I made to several journalists: we have walked a tough path during the last three years in these three dioceses, but, the decision to create the new diocese made, people have shown great vision, maturity and grace in getting stuck in to shaping what is to come. It is hugely impressive. We met great enthusiasm and welcome in all three dioceses today and I cannot express deeply enough my gratitude.
Yes, the hard work lies ahead. The transition process is complex and demanding. Some direction needs to be set soon and, a priority once I take up office in June, will be to appoint two new area bishops for Bradford and Huddersfield. Several journalists asked me today if I would wait until a woman can be appointed – an obvious question just before the General Synod meets next week to take the matter forward. However, the need for us to get our episcopal team in place quickly means that we cannot wait as long as we would have to in order to be able to appoint a woman (should a woman be the best candidate for the post). Next time round, though…
And now to start on the emails before tomorrow and, later in the afternoon, the resumption of my sabbatical.