by Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York Designate
It was announced on 17 December 2019 that Bishop Stephen Cottrell is to become the 98th Archbishop of York, following the retirement of the Rt Revd Dr John Sentamu on 7 June 2020. Bishop Stephen, who was previously the Bishop of Chelmsford, will be confirmed in his new role during a virtual service on 9 July 2020.
The very first Archbishop of York, Paulinus in 627, was a southerner who moved north. He came from Italy. I haven’t had to make such a long journey. I’ve just come from Essex. But as the 98th Archbishop of York, I am moved to be part of such a long and living tradition: one that centres on York itself, but is part of the world wide household of the Christian church.
This is the second time I’ve lived in Yorkshire. My wife, Rebecca, and I lived in Huddersfield for nine years when I was serving the church in West Yorkshire. Two of our three boys were born there. Rebecca herself was born in Harrogate. So, despite my Essex roots, I feel a strong affinity with this great county. I’m looking forward to getting to know it better.
York itself is a great city. My first visit was on our honeymoon. We were staying near Skipton and came to York for a day out.
This was 1984: less than a month after the terrible fire that engulfed the south transept of York Minster. Over the years, I have visited on numerous other occasions. I walked here on pilgrimage once from Durham with a group of young people.
York Minster may just be the local cathedral for those of us who live here, but it is also a centre of pilgrimage and hope for our nation and for the world. Its daily round of prayer and witness – the same daily witness that goes on in every single church – reminds us of the God who made his dwelling with us in Jesus Christ.
My job as Archbishop is to help churches, large and small, share this hope, particularly at this time of difficultly and challenge. Please pray for me; and please be assured of my prayers for you and for this city of ours.