CHURCHES in Pendle and the Ribble Valley are unhappy at plans to bring their parishes into the Blackburn Diocese.

The plans, published last December by the Diocese Commission, would see 12 parishes moved into the Diocese of Blackburn and the Diocese of Bradford scrapped.

Some of those affected say they do not feel part of Lancashire, while others have expressed concerns at attitudes from leaders in the Blackburn Diocese, particularly over the ordination of women.

Blackburn Diocese senior clergy said critics had ‘pegged us down under a particular banner’, and called for more understanding.

The parishes set to transfer are Bracewell, Barnoldswick, Earby, Kelbrook, Gisburn, Slaidburn, Tosside, Hurst Green, Mitton, Waddington, Grindleton and Bolton-by-Bowland.

However, other churches in the West Craven area will remain in a new Diocese based around Wakefield, Bradford and Ripon, retaining the links with Yorkshire churches that they have built up in the Bradford Diocese.

Vera Cocker, churchwarden at All Saints’ in Earby, said: “There is a tremendous feeling here about being moved out of Yorkshire and into Lancashire.”

The Rev Hugh Fielden, vicar of All Saints’ Church in Earby and St Mary’s Church in Kelbrook, said: “Blackburn is nearer, but Ripon will serve communities in the Yorkshire Dales, and will deal with smaller numbers of people, not a big conurbation.

“Bradford has a Low Church tradition, and Blackburn High Church.

"The nature of individual churches will always be locally decided, but Blackburn has a different flavour than Bradford.”

The Rt Rev John Goddard, Bishop of Burnley, pointed out that the proposals were at an early stage and had not been finalised.

He said: “I think they were a bit concerned that they had us pegged down under a particular banner, and needed to understand we are a much more multi-faceted diocese.”

Recommendations must be debated by the Bradford and Blackburn diocesan synods, and other Yorkshire dioceses facing change, before any scheme can be submitted to the General Synod, the Church of England's 'parliament'.

This is unlikely to be before July 2013.