STEPHEN Cottrell will be amongst friends when he takes up his duties as the 98th Archbishop of York in succession to the historic ministry of Dr John Sentamu.
A much-respected bishop who enjoyed a close affinity with the West Riding during the early part of his career, the 61-year-old, and his family, can be assured the warmest of Yorkshire welcomes.
And while some will contend, with reason, that Dr Sentamu, and his force of personality, will be an impossible act to follow, the Bishop of Chelmsford’s character, record and introductory remarks already offer hope.
Bishop Stephen has already vowed to be “a voice for the North”, continuing the advocacy for this region that Dr Sentamu has been undertaking with so many of his colleagues. This is important.
But he also understands that the Church of England needs to put its own “house in order” if it is to become an even more effective force for good in mainstream society.
On his appointment, he said it is important that “survivors’ voices are heard” in the wake of claims being examined by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. His resolve was striking.
He has also highlighted the importance of recruiting ethnic minorities to senior roles in the Church – it is even more imperative that the CoE builds on the legacy and example of Ugandan-born Dr Sentamu – and has been a strong supporter of female bishops.
And, just as importantly, Bishop Stephen has spoken of his belief that the CoE needs to shed its middle class image if it is to remain embedded in communities, large and small, across the country – its pastoral work at a local level should never be taken for granted.
Values that enshrine Dr Sentamu’s groundbreaking work, it is, therefore, the great fortune of this county that Bishop Stephen, the Church’s second most senior clergyman, intends to follow the footsteps taken by his illustrious predecessor.