Diocese says farewell to 178-year history with cathedral ‘journey’

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THERE WILL be a farewell journey at Ripon Cathedral as church members gather for a thanksgiving service marking the end of an historic diocese after 178 years.

Representatives of every church in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds will gather for the service on Sunday at the cathedral which also marks the beginning of a new “super diocese” for Yorkshire which will be created on Easter Day.

The move will eliminate three existing dioceses in Bradford, Wakefield and Ripon and Leeds, which will be replaced by a single new diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

This Mothering Sunday, Ripon Cathedral, will be transformed into an imaginary railway complete with train driver and a guard at 5pm. The theme for the service, which will be led by the Bishop of Knaresborough, James Bell, is “the journey” from the past into a future in which Ripon and Leeds will join with Bradford and Wakefield dioceses to form the new diocese.

The Archdeacon of Leeds, Ven Paul Hooper, who is the chair of the planning group, said: “We are expecting that a large congregation, drawn from across the diocese, will fill the cathedral on Mothering Sunday, to give voice to their thanksgiving for the life and witness of the Diocese of Ripon and Ripon and Leeds since 1836.

“We are also expecting to welcome back bishops, archdeacons and lay leaders who have served the diocese in the past. The diocese will be dissolved on Easter Day and will rise again as part of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.”

Two actors playing a train driver and a guard, will take a major role in the service, leading the congregation through the theme of the journey. Unusually, the congregation from across the diocese will be seated in 35 circles each with a suitcase and some refreshments. Each church has been asked to contribute a photograph representing their work in the community, and these will be placed in the suitcases to be taken into the future diocese.