Skip to content

Diocesan Synod Report, 29th January 2024

An Extraordinary (additional) Meeting of Synod took place online on a dark and wet late January Monday evening.

An Extraordinary (additional) Meeting of Synod took place online on a dark and wet late January Monday evening. After approval of the 18th November 2023 meeting’s minutes, the agenda comprised a single item:

  • Episcopal Ministry—Sees of Selby and Whitby.

Chair of Synod’s House of Clergy, the Revd Becky Lumley, who chaired this meeting, explained that since no questions had been received for the statutory Question Time, the ten minutes allocated for this would be available for the main discussion.


Archbishop Stephen explained to Synod that in order for the appointment of the next suffragan bishops of Selby and Whitby to progress with the retirement in July 2024 of the present bishops, Diocesan Synod need to approve the motion before it tonight setting out the case for both posts and the plans for their deployment.

In line with proposals first made in 2012, Archbishop Stephen commended the plan that the next Bishop of Selby should become a ‘lead bishop’ for the Diocese of York, to address the long-term structural issue that the Archbishop of York is simply unable to give the Diocese the same time and attention as most Diocesan Bishops.

Accordingly the Bishop of Selby should act as lead bishop for the central functions of the diocese, including leading much of the development of the Living Christ’s Story strategic development of the diocese in the coming years.

The incoming Bishop of Whitby should take lead responsibility for issues of inclusion and growing younger within the Diocese of York, in line with both national Church of England priorities and those of the Living Christ’s Story programme in the diocese.

The Bishop of Hull would continue to develop her role in mission and deepening discipleship and spirituality across the diocese.

Synod was supplied with a draft of the paper for the Dioceses Commission; the final version will be available to read once amended in the light of the Synod discussion, which took the form of questions to the Archbishop, including:

  • Is there a danger of an imbalance in the duties of the suffragan bishops? Specifically, might the Archdeaconry of York bear the burden of the Bishop of Selby’s diocese-wide responsibilities?
    Archbishop Stephen believed this could be managed, and undertook to re-emphasise the Bishop of Selby’s key relationships with the Archdeaconry of York.
  • Can the Diocese of York bear the additional support costs, including for a chaplain, of a designated ‘lead bishop’?
    The Archbishop explained that the principle that these costs are met by the Church Commissioners forms part of our submission to the Dioceses Commission; he believes this to be reasonable, and undertook to strengthen the emphasis on this need in the final submission.
  • What process is envisaged for appointing the two new bishops, and what voice will the Diocese of York have?
    Archbishop Stephen mentioned guidelines suggesting an advisory panel to work with him, to include representation from the relevant archdeaconry. In the case of the Bishop Selby, as ‘lead bishop’, he said strong diocesan representation would be important, together with suitable voices from the wider church outside the diocese.
  • Will the Archbishop of York remain the key bishop in clergy disciplinary matters, or will this form part of the delegations to the Bishop of Selby?
    The Archbishop said this will remain with him as diocesan bishop, and that the explanation of this in the submission paper might be expanded further.
  • Since the national church is still moving towards structural accommodations for different theological views over Prayers of Love and Faith, might it be worth delaying these appointments to ensure they fully reflect the new provisions?
    Archbishop Stephen understood this concern but wanted to reiterate his pledge that the new bishops must support the settlement that is yet to be reached. Their appointment is likely to take a number of months and this agenda will have progressed further in that time.
  • Is it realistic to seek two different areas of expertise in the new Bishop of Whitby—in both inclusion and in growing younger?
    The Archbishop acknowledged this and said this would need flexibility in responding to the qualities brought by candidates, and in determining the support structures around the appointee.
  • Will shortlists for the two posts each include at least one Global Minority Heritage candidate, as recommended by the Church of England’s report ‘From Lament to Action’?
    Archbishop Stephen confirmed that was his intention, subject to there being appointable candidates who wish to be considered. 

Of 74 voting members present, 70 supported the motion, with one against and three abstentions.

Saturday 16 March 2024 in person at Manor School, York .