‘Heaven’s Angels’ visit Ripon on diocese tour

The Rev Robb Sutherland outside Ripon Cathedral with his Harley Davidson. (gl 3742)
The Rev Robb Sutherland outside Ripon Cathedral with his Harley Davidson. (gl 3742)

Men of the cloth took to their motorbiking leathers and visited Ripon to learn more about the new super diocese being created for Yorkshire.

Around a dozen motorbiking vicars from the three dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, and Wakefield took to the roads for a tour with a difference around the new diocese.

Their itinerary took them to Otley and Ripon Cathedral, on Saturday morning, before riding on to Addingham near Ilkley for lunch.

They then headed off to Bradford Cathedral and Wakefield Cathedral in the afternoon.

The ride out was organised by the Rev Paul Tudge, vicar of St John’s, Farsley, Leeds, who said it would give those taking part a chance to get to know each other a bit better.

He said: “It’s all in a spirit of fun, friendship and beginning to get to know each other better.”

Some members of the party wore their dog collars underneath their leathers.

Among those taking part was the Rev Vic Iwanuschak, of All Saints Church in Pontefract, and Robb Sutherland, vicar of Mixenden and Illingworth near Halifax, who completed the journey on a Harley Davidson.

Earlier this year, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, announced the new super diocese for Yorkshire would be created next Easter.

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

The overhaul was prompted by declining congregations, fewer clergy and weakened finances but was opposed by the Wakefield diocese.

Members of the General Synod have already approved the changes.

The enlarged diocese will be led by a bishop based in Leeds and divided into five areas covering Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield.

In September, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, announced he was retiring in January before the creation of a new super diocese.

Between January 1 and Easter, the Bishop of Knaresborough will have episcopal responsibility for the diocese of Ripon and Leeds