The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer, is to retire next year, ahead of the creation of a new “super diocese” for Yorkshire.
Bishop Packer has announced he will retire in January, 13 years after taking on the role.
His retirement will be three months ahead of the creation of a new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales at Easter 2014 as three dioceses – Bradford, Wakefield and Ripon and Leeds – come to an end.
The controversial changes were opposed by the Bishop of Wakefield, Stephen Platten, but backed by the Bishop of Bradford, Nick Baines and Bishop Packer.
In a letter to clergy colleagues yesterday, Bishop Packer, who will be 67 when he retires, said his retirement will be at the end of January but his final duties as bishop of the diocese will be on December 31 this year.
It reads: “It has been an immense privilege to serve in this diocese for the past 13 years, to share mission and ministry with you, and to experience so many acts of generosity – as well as of challenge.”
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 1 and the starting date for the new diocese at Easter 2014, 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.
He paid tribute to Bishop 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 Packer 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.
Six years after becoming Bishop of Ripon and Leeds in 2000, he was called to the House of Lords.