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Thirteen years after becoming Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, Bishop John Packer has announced he will retire in January 2014. In a letter to parishes today, Bishop John says that his retirement will be January 31st 2014, but his final duties as bishop of the diocese will be on December 31st.
His retirement comes three months ahead of the ending of Ripon and Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford dioceses and the creation of a new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales at Easter 2014. The new diocese will be led by a new diocesan Bishop of Leeds and four other Area Bishops – Ripon, Wakefield, Bradford and Huddersfield.
Between January 1st and the starting date for the the new diocese at Easter 2014, Bishop James Bell, the Bishop of Knaresborough will have Episcopal responsibility for the diocese of Ripon and Leeds. Bishop Bell will become the bishop for the Ripon Episcopal Area under the new arrangements.
Bishop James Bell paid tribute to Bishop John Packer, saying:
John is probably the most collegial bishop in the Church of England and one of the most humane. That generous collegiality and warm humanity, together with his absolute integrity, abounding pastoral care and generous hospitality have shaped who and how we are as a Diocese. His passion for justice combined with transparent sincerity have won appreciation for his ministry regionally and nationally.
Bishop John Packer will be 67 years old when he retires and will have the distinction of being the first and only ‘Bishop of Ripon and Leeds’. The new title for the diocese and bishop was created in 2000. He entered ordained ministry in 1970 as Curate at St Helier in Southwark, then served at Abingdon in Oxford Diocese.
He was a tutor at Ripon College Cuddesdon, Vicar of Wath-upon-Dearne and then Team Rector at Sheffield Manor. He became Archdeacon of West Cumberland and was later appointed as Bishop of Warrington.
Six years after becoming Bishop of Ripon and Leeds in 2000, he was called to the House of Lords where he has had an impact as Bishops’ Parliamentary Spokesperson for immigration and asylum, urban affairs and welfare reform.