The diocese of Ripon & Leeds is home to a great family of 169 Church of England parishes containing 267 churches which stretch right across 1,359 square miles of North and West Yorkshire and the south-western tip of County Durham. At one end are the vast empty spaces of the Upper Dales (Herriot Country), as remote as any countryside in England, at the other is Leeds, with all the opportunities and difficulties of one of the great cities of the kingdom. In between lie Richmond, Ripon and Harrogate and the many small market towns and commuter villages of North Yorkshire.
The diocese however, is more than simply being the sum of all its parishes and there are many aspects of the mission work of the diocese which take place at a regional rather than parochial level. Among these are the prison chaplains, hospital chaplains, chaplains to the armed services and school chaplains. We also have chaplains in Institutions of Higher Education such as Leeds University, Leeds Metropolitan University and the Church College of Ripon and York St John. Another important area of missionary work is in the world of industry - Leeds Industrial Mission has a number of full and part-time chaplains working. Again, there are a whole variety of specialised ministries undertaken by chaplains - for example, that amongst those with impaired hearing and those with learning difficulties. The diocese employs a full-time Rural Officer, whose role is to work alongside, encourage and enable the church in the countryside.
Then & Now
The diocese of Ripon was originally carved out of the dioceses of York and Chester and its first Bishop, Charles Thomas Longley, was consecrated on November 11th 1836.
This was the first time for three hundred years that a new diocese had been formed in England and it resulted from the substantial growth in the population during the Industrial Revolution. On September 3rd 1999 the diocese was renamed 'The Diocese of Ripon & Leeds' in order to reflect the present importance of the major city which lies within its bounds.