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New Archbishop of York is announced to succeed Dr John Sentamu

Posted on: December 17, 2019 3:01 PM
Archbishop Justin Welby with Bishop Stephen Cottrell
Photo Credit: Church of England

[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] The Church of England’s next Archbishop of York is to be the Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, who will succeed Dr John Sentamu following his retirement in June 2020.

Stephen Cottrell, who is a renowned preacher, author and communicator will become the 98th Archbishop of York in a line dating back to St Paulinus in 627 AD.

As Primate of England and Metropolitan of the Province of York the Archbishop designate will share in the leadership of the Church of England in partnership with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

The two archbishops will put aside historic rivalry between their predecessors dating back to medieval disputes over supremacy which had to be settled by two different Popes. In the first row, the then Archbishop of York refused to take his seat in court because it was positioned lower than the Archbishop of Canterbury’s. The final arrangement ruled that the Archbishop of Canterbury should take precedence with the title 'Primate of All England', but that the Archbishop of York should retain the style of 'Primate of England'.

Stephen Cottrell’s appointment was welcomed by both the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Justin Welby said: “He is someone who radiates the joy and love of Jesus, making his hearers want to meet and know Christ better. He has been a Bishop for 15 years, and wherever he has gone he has spread the love of God, leading churches to be more confident in what they believe and more passionate in what they do for their communities.”

“With a particular passion for Kenya, Bishop Stephen knows well the variety and vibrancy of the Anglican Communion and is utterly committed to the life and unity of the communion as a whole,” he said. “Personally, I know that he will be both an encouraging and a challenging colleague, and am sure that working together we will be able to address spiritually and practically the great challenges facing our country, and facing the Church of England.”

Dr Sentamu said Bishop Stephen's nomination as his successor had "gladdened my heart". He said: “Bishop Stephen Cottrell has the Gospel in his belly and a tiger in the tank! I am glad he is returning to the Northern Province where he with others developed the Emmaus course for evangelism, nurture and discipleship. His greatest passion is to share the Gospel with everyone in a friendly and accessible way.”

Speaking about his new role, Stephen Cottrell said: “I am humbled and excited at the prospect of becoming the 98th Archbishop of York. I will receive the baton from Archbishop Sentamu. These aren’t just big shoes to fill, but a big heart and a big vision.”

Although the Bishop was born and grew up in Essex, he lived and served in in the north of England in Huddersfield for nine years.

He said: “I now look forward to returning and being a voice for the North, sharing the liberating good news of the gospel and helping to address the discrepancies of wealth and opportunity that too often favour the South."

Stephen Cottrell found faith as a teenager through the work of youth organisations in his local church. After a brief spell working in the film industry, he began training for ministry at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, in 1981 and was ordained deacon at the age of 26. He later studied for an MA with St Mellitus College.

He served in parishes in London and Chichester in the south of England and also took on the role of Assistant Director of Pastoral Studies at Chichester Theological College.

After moving to West Yorkshire, as Diocesan Missioner and Bishop’s Chaplain for Evangelism in the Diocese of Wakefield, he went on to become a Springboard Missioner and Consultant in Evangelism.

In 2001, he was appointed as Canon Pastor of Peterborough Cathedral and three years later was consecrated as Bishop of Reading. He took up his current role as Bishop of Chelmsford in 2010.  

He is the author of more than 20 books including children’s books.

A founding member of the Church of England’s College of Evangelists, he chairs a group of bishops with an interest in the media and is one of the authors of the Church of England’s Pilgrim course, a major teaching and discipleship resource. He also chairs the Board of Church Army - an organisation committed to evangelism and social justice. He is Bishop Protector for the Society of St Francis.

Stephen Cottrell is married to Rebecca, who is a potter, and they have three sons.

Following the publication of this article, The Church of England has issued a statement responding to false alegations against Bishop Stephen. Click here to read our additional report.