First Bishop of Ripon since 1999

The newly-titled Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev James Bell, centre, leading the Boxing Day Pilgrimage in December.
The newly-titled Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev James Bell, centre, leading the Boxing Day Pilgrimage in December.

In a small but significant change, the Rt Rev James Bell, until now the Bishop of Knaresborough, has been given the title of ‘Bishop of Ripon’ to reflect his role as Area Bishop of the Ripon Episcopal Area.

The Order in Council changing the Bishop’s title to Ripon was approved by the Queen with the Privy Council following a petition from the Bishop of Leeds.

It is the final hurdle for a change of name which first had to be approved by General Synod meeting in November before going forward to Her Majesty for Royal Assent. It comes into immediate effect.

“It is great to have the change of title confirmed by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty in Council,” said Bishop James Bell.

“It is a small but significant piece of the jigsaw in the formation of the new diocese.”

The new diocese is sub-divided into five smaller ‘episcopal areas’ (Ripon, Huddersfield, Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield), each led by an Area Bishop, and a similar change was sought to enable the current Bishop of Pontefract to allow him to be called the Bishop of Wakefield.

The Ripon Episcopal Area is the biggest of the five areas of the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales covering parishes across the North Yorkshire part of the diocese.

The Bishop said: “Let’s together get on with being and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in our communities from Knaresborough to Kettlewell, Barnoldswick to Bentham, Harrogate to Hawes, Wetherby to Richmond.”

Moves to change Bishop James Bell’s official title to the Bishop of Ripon began with the creation of the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales a year ago at Easter 2014.

It is the first time that there has been a Bishop of Ripon since 1999. In 2000, the new diocesan bishop, Bishop John Packer, was enthroned as the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds.

The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, said: “At last, all our bishops have their right titles and another piece in our transformation jigsaw is in place. I am glad that the new titles will make sense of our episcopal areas.”