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Posts Tagged "Candidates for Cantuar":

Candidates for Cantuar: Stephen Cottrell

It is very hard to dislike someone who introduces himself as ‘a bit of an oik from Essex’, as Bishop Stephen does in this 2011 address to Sheffield diocese. And I defy you to dislike Bishop Stephen Cottrell. Dare I insist that you listen to the first 9.55 minutes of this 47.55 minute video? You will not regret it. It is masterly, both as a memorable sermon in the truest meaning of the word and as an example of showmanship, the orator’s art of slowly drawing the audience in. And then please listen to the rest of it as well.

I have never met Bishop Stephen, but I too have been drawn in to the group of his followers. I became hooked one August, when researching a ‘thought for the day‘ for a service of Matins which I was due to take. I came across Bishop Stephen’s ‘Do Nothing to Change Your Life: Discovering What Happens When You Stop‘. I was entranced. Realising that I needed to quote a large chunk of it for full effect, I thought I had better ask the bishop whether he minded. So I, the smallest of small fry, emailed the Bishop of Reading, as he then was. I don’t know what I expected – a standard reply from a minion perhaps – but instead I had the most charming personal reply from Bishop Stephen himself, wishing me (I don’t think he used the word ‘luck’) as a lay worship leader.

Bishop Stephen has his own website, though I don’t think he has yet been persuaded to blog or twitter. His Wikipedia page is here.


Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell, born 31 August 1958, in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, was educated at Belfairs High School and the Polytechnic of Central London. After studying at St Stephen’s House, Oxford he was ordained in 1985. He is married to Rebecca, and they have three teenage children.


The Crockford’s entry reads as follows:

+COTTRELL, The Rt Revd Stephen Geoffrey. b 58. Poly Cen Lon BA79. St Steph Ho Ox 81. d 84 p 85 c 04. C Forest Hill Ch Ch S’wark 84-88; P-in-c Parklands St Wilfrid CD Chich 88-93; Asst Dir Past Studies Chich Th Coll 88-93; Dioc Missr Wakef 93-98; Bp’s Chapl for Evang 93-98; Springboard Missr and Consultant in Evang 98-01; Can Res Pet Cathl 01-04; Area Bp Reading Ox 04-10; Bp Chelmsf from 10


He was nominated Bishop of Reading in 2004 after the  Jeffrey John affair. Cottrell had been a supporter of Jeffrey John’s original appointment. He said of his nomination:

I am looking forward to becoming the next Bishop of Reading with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.I believe my work in mission and evangelism has prepared me well for the challenges facing the church in this new century.I hope and pray that my love for and understanding of the different traditions of the Church of England will enable me to be a focus for unity in the Reading Episcopal area.

Bishop Stephen has been  Bishop of Chelmsford since 7 October 2010.


Bishop Stephen is a prolific writer, his Amazon coverage running to three pages (allowing for one or two other Cottrells to have crept in).  It says much to the credit of both, I think, that he has written several books with Bishop Steven Croft, the Evangelical, although he is an Affirming Catholic.

His most recent book is ‘Christ in the Wilderness: Reflecting on the Paintings by Stanley Spencer ‘ which was published this month by SPCK.


The Wikipedia entry on Affirming Catholicism describes it as follows:

The movement represents a liberal strand of Anglo-Catholicism and is particularly noted for holding that Anglo-Catholic belief and practice is compatible with the ordination of women. It also generally supports ordination into the threefold ministry (bishops, priests, deacons) regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The movement was formalised on 9 June 1990, at St Alban’s Church Holborn in London by a number of Anglo-Catholic clergy in the Diocese of London who had been marginalised within, or expelled from, existing Anglo-Catholic groups because of their support for women’s ordination to the priesthood. It developed a theological stance which was staunchly liberal in matters of inclusivity but traditionally Catholic in matters of liturgy and the centrality and theology of the sacraments whilst believing that traditional restrictions on who may receive them should be re-examined.

Bishop Stephen’s diocese, Chelmsford, rejected the Covenant. Bishop Steven himself abstained, as has now been confirmed by one of the comments on this blog.

On the question of women, Bishop Stephen voted in favour of  adjourning the debate to enable reconsideration of amendment 5.1.c, a position generally taken by those in favour of women bishops.

Leap in the dark assessment

When we first made the list in the priority suggested by Oddschecker, Bishop Stephen was 13th in line to the archiepiscopal throne. Today he is 11th, having overtaken Bishops John Packer and Tom Wright in the last couple of days.

A passionate proponent of mission and evangelism, Bishop Stephen’s inclusive attitude and charm might be just the right prescription for the Anglican Communion and Church of England at this juncture?

Candidates for Cantuar: John Inge


Bishop John was born in 1955 and educated at Kent College followed by a chemistry degree from St. Chads College, Durham. He then taught chemistry at Lancing College in Sussex, to which he later returned as a chaplain. He is married to Denise, and they have two daughters.


He studied at the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield, Yorkshire and was ordained deacon in 1983 and priest in 1984 in the Diocese of Chichester. He became one of the Lords Spiritual in June this year.  He serves on the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) of the General Synod and has served on the Council of Ridley Hall College, Cambridge since 2008. The Crockford’s entry reads as follows:

+INGE, The Rt Revd John Geoffrey. b 55. St Chad’s Coll Dur BSc77 MA94 PhD02 Keble Coll Ox PGCE79. Coll of Resurr Mirfield. d 84 p 85 c 03. Asst Chapl Lancing Coll 84-86; Jun Chapl Harrow Sch 86-89; Sen Chapl 89-90; V Wallsend St Luke Newc 90-96; Can Res Ely Cathl 96-03; Vice-Dean 99-03; Suff Bp Huntingdon 03-07; Bp Worc from 07

Mission and Evangelism

This is a recurring motif in Bishop John’s ministry, which is reinforced by the diocesan website, which has a special tab devoted to the subject:

As a Diocese we are committed to mission in every aspect, seeking to bring the good news of God’s love in Jesus to all who live in our cities, towns and villages, and to make the gospel relevant to their everyday lives. In putting mission first we are currently focusing on three areas of mission:


By so doing, we hope and pray that our churches will display the hallmarks of healthy churches which we have identified as:

  • Worshipping God
  • Working to rid the world of poverty
  • Sharing the gospel
  • Building inclusive communities
  • Helping people to faith
  • Caring for the earth

Other Interests

According to the diocesan website:

Bishop John is fascinated by international affairs and cultural variety and has taken groups to Africa (on seven occasions), India, South America, Russia and the Holy Land. He has also fostered Indian and African links with the Diocese of Ely. He is a longstanding member of the World Development Movement and Amnesty International. Bishop John is a trustee of Common Purpose, an international organisation that helps people in leadership and decision-making positions in the private, public and voluntary sectors to be more effective in their own organisations, in the community and in society as a whole.


I do not know whether this is an interest of Bishop John’s, or whether it is simply an area of diocesan expertise which he inherited. But it is the only diocese I have so far seen to say that ‘help [is offered] for those who feel they may be haunted, cursed or oppressed‘. However, perhaps the reference to ‘this phenomena’  (phenomenon, please!) indicates that he has not focused on this page.


His book A Christian Theology of Place (Ashgate, 2003) was short listed for the Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing. His latest book Living Love: In Conversation with the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Inspire, 2007) looks at the Christian message contained within the series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith’s.


He is Chairman of the board of The College of Evangelists, which says it ‘exists to recognise and affirm evangelists whose ministry is nationwide or at least beyond the confines of any diocese’. Evangelists as opposed to Evangelicals, presumably.  Mirfield, his alma mater, is generally thought to be High Church.

The chapel of Lancing College is a splendid, soaring building, which dominates the surrounding countryside. I think it is a reasonable inference from his service as chaplain, both here and at Harrow, that Bishop John’s natural habitat is the top of the candle, but other than this circumstantial evidence, can find no proof one way or another.

He voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant, as did his suffragan, but his diocese voted overwhelmingly against. All the representatives from Worcester Diocese voted in favour of adjourning the debate to reconsider amendment 5.1.c, the way those in favour of women bishops in general voted.

Leap in the dark assessment

A David to match all those Goliaths?


In trying to find an illustration for this post, I was unable to find one of Bishop John in which he was not smiling.

Not grinning, gently smiling.   Is it too fanciful to read into this what Kenneth Clark called ‘the smile of reason’? Certainly, writing a book about the lessons to be learnt from the ‘No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ indicates a degree of twinkle.


Candidates for Cantuar: Steven Croft


Steven John Lindsey Croft was born in 1957. He went to Heath Grammar School in Halifax, Yorkshire, and studied classics and theology at Worcester College, Oxford, after which he studied for the priesthood in Durham at Cranmer Hall, St John’s College. He is married to Ann and has four children.


Bishop Steven was ordained as deacon in the Diocese of London in 1983 and as priest in 1984.  The Crockford’s entry reads:

* +CROFT, The Rt Revd Steven John Lindsey. b 57. Worc Coll Ox BA80 MA83 St Jo Coll Dur PhD84. Cranmer Hall Dur 80. d 83 p 84 c 09. C Enfield St Andr Lon 83-87; V Ovenden Wakef 87-96; Dioc Miss Consultant 94-96; Warden Cranmer Hall Dur 96-04; Abps’ Missr and Team Ldr Fresh Expressions 04-09; Bp Sheff from 09. 

In the mid 1990s, Bishop Steven was  diocesan mission adviser. He then became Archbishops’ Missioner and Leader of the Fresh Expressions team under Archbishop Rowan Williams. He was a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council from 1997-2000.

It is said of some candidates that they may be too old; Bishop Steven is only 55  but on the other hand has only been a bishop since January 2009. Also, except for his curacy in Enfield, all his ministry has been in Yorkshire and the neighbouring County Durham.


He is a co-author of Emmaus: the way of faith (1996-2003), a set of resources for Christian nurture widely used in the UK and across the world. He is author or co-author of a number of books including Ministry in Three Dimensions (1999 and 2008); and Travelling Well (with Stephen Cottrell) (2000). His first novel for children and adults, The Advent Calendar, was published in 2006.  In 2009 Jesus’ People: What the Church should do next challenged the reader to rethink both the role of Jesus in the Church and that of the Church in today’s society and culture. He wrote the Church of England ‘most digital Lent course yet’ for 2011, about which Church House Publishing said:

 Household music and DVD collections could be a good starting point for studying the Bible this Lent, teaches a new five-week course called Exploring God’s Mercy, compiled by the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft. Suitable for church groups, couples or individuals, the course prepares us for the festival of Easter by reminding us just how much God loves us, using Scriptures, specially filmed You Tube videos, podcasts for iPods, group discussions and prayer. It recommends playing popular songs or DVD clips at the start of each session, to set the scene for that week’s theme.


The Sheffield Diocesan Website is up to the minute, and relies heavily on videos. This means that readers like us can form quite a clear impression of what life with Bishop Steven as the Archbishop of Canterbury might be like. (The impression might still be erroneous of course).

As in the case of Bishop Tim Stevens, he is often filmed in strong light which makes his eyes narrow rather alarmingly . You may think I make too much of this, but if the eyes are windows of the soul, it is difficult to form an impression of someone whose eyes are hidden. (If I were in charge of his PR, I would also frogmarch him to Trumpers, the Curzon Street barber). Other YouTube videos are his initial ‘sermon’ at, his Easter message (you can see his eyes) and his address to diocesan synod July 2012



Bishop Steven is an evangelistic Evangelical.

Both Sheffield bishops voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant, as did their clergy and laity.

At General Synod  in July 2012 he voted  to adjourn the debate to enable reconsideration of  amendment 5.1.c

(the position generally taken by those in favour of women bishops).

Bishop Steven has been a strong opponent of same-sex marriage:

“One in four marriages in England are performed by the Church of England and that proportion is rising at the moment. In every marriage service the priest begins the service by spelling out what marriage is – a union between one man and one woman with the intention of it being lifelong. So it is really important to register back to the Government that this is not a minor change, this is a fundamental change to a very, very important social institution.”

You can see possibly the best (ITV) video interview with him in this clip, where he explains, sitting at his desk with no props or gimmicks, exactly what his views are.  Am I alone in seeing an iron hand emerge in this charmingly velvet glove?


Leap in the dark assessment

Bishop Steven Croft would make an excellent Archbishop of York in due course.

Saturday Sitrep: Canterbury Candidates

This Gillray cartoon of ‘The Church Militant’ seemed an appropriate illustration for a sorbet between courses of bishops, lest we exhaust our appetite for more before we finish the list. The rankings on 7th August, when I began this exercise, were: Christopher Cocksworth, Graham James, John Sentamu, Justin Welby, Tim Stevens,  Richard Chartres, John Packer, Stephen Croft, Nick Baines and John Inge

Today’s rankings from Oddschecker (I apologise for the vulgarity of this method of selection, but it seems the fairest) is as follows:

Christopher Cocksworth 7th August
Graham James 8th August
John Sentamu 10th August
Justin Welby 13th August
James Jones 20th August
Tim Stevens 18th August
Richard Chartres, 24th August
Stephen Croft 28th August
John Packer 30th August
Nick Baines 3rd September
John Inge 7th September
Tom Wright 10th September
Stephen Cottrell  17th September
Timothy Thornton 25th September
David Urquhart  1st October
Dr Graham Kings 9th October
Dr Barry Morgan
Dr Alastair Redfern 13th October
James Langstaff
Stephen Conway
John Pritchard
Michael Perham
Nicholas Holtam
James Newcome
Mike Hill
Paul Butler
Peter Bryan Price
Peter Forster
Stephen Venner
Michael Langrish
Tim Dakin
Gregory Cameron
Stephen Platten

+James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, who did not make it at all into the original short list,  is now in fifth place, immediately behind +Justin Welby.

On a more general note, one or two things have struck me (apart from the difficulty of the task ahead, which we already knew about).  I think there is no obvious candidate. Apart from their personal qualities, which we must hope weigh uppermost in the minds of the Crown Nominations Commission, there are perhaps three practical considerations which the comments so far suggest we expect to be taken into account. These are:

  • The age of the candidate: he needs to be still under 70 at the next Lambeth Conference due to be held in 2018;
  • The seniority of the candidate: though some might think +Nick Holtam or +Tim Dakin a good choice, they are currently in their first posts as bishop.
  • The length of service in their present posts: +Justin Welby might be a good candidate for other reasons, but has only recently arrived in Durham.

I do pray very sincerely that these practical considerations are not allowed to come in the way of choosing the best man for the job. As has been pointed out several times, we are at a crucial juncture in the Church of England, and for that matter in the Anglican Communion, with a built-up head of steam demanding change. There can be no question of ‘Buggins’ turn‘.  It will require someone with very special abilities to fulfil the role of Archbishop of Canterbury. Cometh the hour, cometh the man?



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