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Blackburn Diocese

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Founded: 1926
Parishes: 237
Churches: 272
Geography: Lancashire, except for areas in the east in the diocese of Bradford and in the south in the dioceses of Liverpool and Manchester; a few parishes in Wigan
Overseas Link Dioceses: Free State (South Africa), Braunschweig (Germany) (Evangelical Lutheran Landeskirche)
Population: 1341000
Area Square Miles: 930
Full time Stipendiary Parochial Clergy: 163
Benefices: 177
Source: The Church of England Year Book. For more information visit the Diocese page on Crockford's here



The Diocese of Blackburn (The Church of England in Lancashire) was founded in 1926 by the then Bishop of Manchester, William Temple.  Bishop William was concerned to emphasise Christian pastoral support for the expanding cotton towns.


This was underlined by transforming the parish church at the centre of Blackburn into Lancashire's Anglican cathedral. Blackburn Cathedral is, in fact, one of England's newest cathedrals, yet it is one of the country's oldest places of Christian worship.


It has a reputation for groundbreaking work in the area of interfaith relations and community cohesion and it was the first cathedral in the world to employ a Muslim dialogue development officer.


With coastal plains to the west and the foothills of the Pennines to the east the boundary The Diocese of Blackburn is virtually coterminous with the geographic county of Lancashire; that is the administrative county plus the unitary districts of Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool.


The Diocese has 237 parishes with 177 benefices. These include 232 churches and 28 mission buildings in the 14 deaneries of the Archdeaconries of Blackburn and Lancaster.


After a period of decline, attendance figures are on the rise again across the Diocese with the most recent figures showing an average rise of around 4%.


The Church of England in Lancashire owns and runs Whalley Abbey; a 13thcentury Cistercian Abbey, which includes an active and well-used Abbey House. As well as being a venue for many key Diocesan meetings, the House is also hired out as a venue for weddings, business meetings, parish retreats and awaydays.


The Abbey House sits amid the beautiful and tranquil ruins of the original Abbey and one of its Gatehouses. Another Gatehouse, a short walk away, is owned and managed by English Heritage.


Church of England schools in the Diocese total 186, including four run jointly with the Methodist Church. Recently a Multi-Academy Trust (Cidari) was established and has already welcomed its first few schools, with many more to come.


Academic progress has seen three universities established in the county in the last 50 years: Lancaster University, University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and Cumbria University.


The University of Cumbria is a church established university, the Lancaster campus previously being the site of St Martins College, established as a teaching college in 1964. The total student population is over 55,000.


Industries as diverse as engineering and tourism retain important places in the regional economy.


Christian care for changing populations includes the largest number of aided schools in England, besides chaplaincy work in prisons, schools, hospitals and universities.


Expanding educational chaplaincy, alongside new directions in Christian social care and developing interests in Christian dialogue, provide examples of how a changing Church establishes mission priorities for changing societies.


Many parts of Lancashire are rural and affluent; but there are many areas, including Blackpool and several towns in East Lancashire, with high levels of deprivation.


Many foodbanks have been established as a result by local parishes keen to practice Christian mission work in their own communities.


Blackburn Diocese has links with The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Braunschweig which consists of around 400,000 members in over 400 parishes as well as Free State in South Africa (formerly known as Bloemfontein). The latter is the oldest Companion Link in the Anglican Communion.


People regularly visit each other from the link Dioceses; there is a constant flow of prayer and a number of very strong parish to parish links. The Diocese of Blackburn is served by a Diocesan Bishop (The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev. Julian Henderson who was appointed in 2013) two suffragan bishops (The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev. Philip North and the Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev. Geoff Pearson) The Dean of Blackburn, currently in vacancy and also two archdeacons (The Venerable Mark Ireland, Archdeacon of Blackburn and The Venerable Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster).



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