About the Cathedral, Diocese and City

York Minster

York Minster Mystery PlaysThe seat of the Archbishop of York, the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St. Peter in York – York Minster as it is better known – is the mother church of the Northern Province and the Cathedral for the Diocese of York. It is, and has been for almost 2000 years, a centre for Christian life in the north of England. It is also one of the most iconic and famous buildings in the United Kingdom: a gothic masterpiece in stone and stained glass.

The Minster is a magnet drawing people to visit the City of York and a defining symbol of this ancient capital of the north. Alongside this rich history and architectural heritage the Minster is also home to a thriving and diverse community. Prayer is at the heart of this shared life: the regular rhythm of daily worship presented within walls that have soaked up the prayers of the last 1400 years. Excellence in liturgy is matched by excellence in music, delivered by the Minster’s world-renowned choir and recently refurbished organ.

Over 600,000 visitors are welcomed through the Cathedral's doors each year, many not expecting the transformational encounter they experience within the Cathedral. Each is on their own personal pilgrimage and a key element of the Cathedral’s mission is to engage with each of those pilgrims. These individuals also provide key financial support for furthering mission and ministry. In short, without the income generated from visitors it would be impossible to sustain the life of this community.

York Minster Stone MasonThe Minster sits in a site of over 6 hectares, scheduled ancient monument and containing 56 Grade I and Grade II listed buildings. This medium sized enterprise requires a team of teams to ensure all runs smoothly. Over 160 staff are employed in occupations as varied as Sawyer, through Safeguarding Advisor to Sales Assistant. 40 Choristers (equal numbers of boys and girls) are educated at St. Peter’s School, York, a school which can trace its foundation to the Anglo-Saxon founders of the Minster. Alongside this staff body, some 400 volunteers gift their time to the smooth running and flourishing of the Minster.

The Minster is complex and complicated, spacious and yet intimate, ancient and still contemporary. It is many things to many people: beacon of hope, place to demonstrate, seat of Archbishop, sanctuary, architectural gem, tourist attraction, shop, spiritual home, apprentice workshop. Those that work, serve and worship here will testify that it gets under your skin, in a good way.

Read more information about the life of the Cathedral in a briefing document prepared by Chapter. 

The Diocese of York

York Diocese stretches from the Humber to the Tees, and from near the A1 to the Yorkshire coast. It is the largest Diocese by square miles (2 hours plus drive from north to south), and 14th in terms of population (1,442,000). Increasingly economically diverse (with the Hull and Middlesbrough areas becoming noticeably poorer through redundancies and closures), and significantly rural with a gulf between rural affluence and rural poverty, the main concentrated centres of population are York, Hull and Middlesbrough.

The diocese is well served by the A1 and A19 running north-south, the M62 serving Hull, the East Coast Main Line and Trans Pennine rail networks. For the most part, the Diocese is rural, and away from the main roads transport links are poor and slow. Population diversity within the Diocese also differs considerably. In some places, like the rural centre of the Diocese and the East Riding, over 96% of the population identify as White British. In Middlesbrough, a place where there are a substantial number of temporary residents including asylum seekers and refugees, that number is closer to 86%. Further details about the diocese as a whole can be found at: http://bit.ly/lcs-dioc-info-pack

A map of the Diocese of York

The four key themes within Living Christ’s Story (LCS) have emerged through active prayerful engagement over the last 18 months on the part of the worshipping communities, deaneries, Diocesan Synod and the Diocesan Leadership Team (YDLT). They build on an earlier expression of priorities that shaped successful bids for national funding to extend the Reach and Grow leaders working respectively in the Multiply Ministry (reaching out to those in their 20s-40s) and in the Mustard Seed Ministry (growing disciples where life is tough).

In January 2022, the Diocesan Synod endorsed a framework for Deanery Planning as the next phase in the development of a coherent and comprehensive strategy to revitalise growth.

LCS will help the Diocese frame worship, ministry and activity during the next decade. It will guide appointments in parishes and Diocesan staff, inform funding bids to achieve goals and set the agendas for Synods and committees. At worship, and in the activities and ministries in the parishes, church plants, chaplaincies, fresh expressions, Multiply and Mustard Seed ministries, messy church, refugee ministry, church schools, and social action, the diocese is committed to living and sharing the gospel; and knows this commitment is nowhere more urgent and demanding than amongst people and communities living with deprivation.

The Diocesan Leadership Team has committed to praying a very simple prayer during this time:

‘Lord, what do you want of us?’

It is inspired by a longer prayer of St Teresa of Avila, as we search for God’s wisdom.

As ever our desire is ‘Your Kingdom Come, Lord’.

The City of York

As a geographical area there is no obvious centre or gathering point. York feels like a long way from the other major centres of population, and despite the sense that many people retain of belonging to historic Yorkshire, it is only the Church that actually gathers at York itself.

York itself is a paradox, renowned for heritage and history it is also a UNESCO City of New Media Arts, with many in the city not wishing to trade on the history and heritage. Home to an expanding population of students due to the two thriving universities (the University of York and York St John University), most graduates migrate to Leeds, Manchester and London due to the cost of housing. The city is part of the York and North Yorkshire LEP, but many commute to Leeds, Manchester and London, it is quicker and easier to get to London on the east coast mainline than to get to the furthest flung parts of the Diocese of York.

For Yorkshire, York is relatively wealthy, voted remain and is over 95% white. The lives of those in relative comfort in rural Ryedale have very little in common with those in the poorest parishes of Hull and Middlesbrough. Life expectancy, aspiration and income vary enormously across this vast and varied Diocese. Yet the Minster must find a way of being relevant in each of these contexts.