The Rt Rev David Young

DAVID Young, who has died aged 76, was the youngest Bishop in the Church of England when he was appointed to take charge of the Diocese of Ripon in 1977 and the second longest serving when he retired 22 years later.

He was the last Bishop of Ripon before the Diocese changed its name to Ripon and Leeds – recognising the urban community at the south of a largely rural area which extends through the centre of North Yorkshire to Upper Teesdale.

At his enthronement as the 11th Bishop of Ripon at the age of 46, he told a congregation of 1,500 that sometimes the Church must stand apart from society and remind people of things they would rather forget and ask awkward questions.

Urging them to ask whether the values of society were right, he said: "Are acquisition and high consumption the right economic base for society? Are our resources in education, in welfare and in housing directed to those who are most in need of them?

"Are we satisfied that the minority communities in our midst are able to play their full and proper part in society?" The Bishop said the Church's task was not to shut itself off but to become involved.

Education remained one of the Bishop's concerns throughout his life. He was chairman of the Church of England Board of Education and its spokesman in the House of Lords. After his retirement, the David Young Community Academy in Leeds was named in his honour.

His term as Bishop was not without controversy. He took an unequivocal stance in favour of women priests. Although he urged all members of the Church of England to "hang on to one another" and take time to assess their position after the General Synod vote, he alienated some traditional Anglicans who accused him of neglecting their concerns.

But he gained support from the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, after banning active homosexual vicars from pulpits in his diocese. Subsequently he dismissed the retired Bishop of Glasgow, Derek Rawcliffe, as an assistant bishop because he had blessed same-sex "marriages" contrary to church law.

David Nigel de Lorentz Young, who was made a CBE in 2000, was educated at Wellington College and Balliol College, Oxford, and studied at Wycliffe Hall before being ordained in 1960.

He was a curate in Liverpool and London from 1959 to 1963. After studying Sanskrit and Pali at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the Church Mission Society sent him to Sri Lanka.

He was director in the Department of Buddhist Studies in the Theological College of Lanka before returning to Britain to become lecturer in Buddhist Studies at Manchester University from 1967 to 1970.

He was vicar of Durwell, Cambridge, and lecturer in Divinity at Cambridge University before becoming Archdeacon of Huntingdon in 1975. His appointment as Bishop of Ripon followed the death of his predecessor Hetley Price less than a year after his enthronement.

Bishop Young established strong links between the Ripon diocese and the Diocese of Sri Lanka which continue to thrive. He was also a firm friend of the former Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds, David Konstant.

Shortly before his retirement in 1999 Bishop Young recalled being told by the former Archbishop of York, Stuart Blanche, that if he took on the job he should enjoy it.

He said; "I have enjoyed it enormously. Nearly a third of my life has been spent as Bishop of Ripon. I have found it a challenging and testing time."

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer, said Bishop Young's ministry had a profound effect on the life of the diocese through his pastoral care and generous self giving.

After being diagnosed with myeloma – bone marrow cancer – Bishop Young retired to live at Lawkland, near Settle, in the Bradford diocese, where he served as an assistant bishop.

The Bishop of Bradford, David James, said: "He was a wonderful support to me in my early days in Bradford.

"His graciousness was appreciated by everyone who met him. He and his wife Jane were a particular encouragement to retired clergy in the diocese."

Bishop Young lost his first wife, Rachel, in a car accident in 1966. He is survived by his second wife, Jane, and five children, including two from his first marriage.

A thanksgiving service for Bishop Young's life, which will include Holy Communion, will be held in Ripon Cathedral next Friday at noon.