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Bishop Stephen Cottrell to become Archbishop of York in online ceremony

by Press Association

Bishop Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell will become the 98th Archbishop of York on Thursday.

He is succeeding Dr John Sentamu as the second most senior cleric in the Church of England on Thursday. 

Coronavirus restrictions mean the usual ceremonies surrounding the election and the enthronement of a new archbishop have been delayed and simplified.

But the custom of knocking three times on the west door of the Minster with the crozier, which is his staff of office, has been preserved, although it is normally part of the now-deferred enthronement service.

The Dean of York, Rt Rev Dr Jonathan Frost, said Archbishop Elect Stephen will pick up his crozier from the high altar in the quire and move through the ancient building to its west end.

After knocking three times, the west door will then be opened to the world.

Dr Frost said: "This reversal of the usual symbolism, is intended to signify the openness of the Church to the world and reflects Archbishop Elect Stephen's desire to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the communities it serves."

The ceremony will be preceded by the Archbishop Elect's confirmation of election service which will be broadcast entirely via video conference due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

He will then make a short walk of pilgrimage to the shrine of St Margaret Clitherow and proceed to the crypt of York Minster where he will pray at the tomb of St William of York.

Bishop Stephen will also offer his first address as Archbishop of York.

Archbishop Elect Stephen said:  "The Church is the body of Christ.

"As such we are being formed in his likeness to be sent out into the world to bring hope, healing and wholeness.

"I like the symbolism of opening up the doors of the church as we go out and see and be where God is already at work.

"As I take up the role of Archbishop of York, my focus will be on prayer, and I want to begin by praying for the unity of the Church, for all those persecuted, and for the Northern Province of the Church of England.

"May we be united as the body of Christ, of one mind and purpose to see God's Kingdom here on Earth."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Rev Justin Welby said: "I'm sad we're not able to all be together in York Minster to celebrate, yet.

"But we know that God is present to us at all times through the Holy Spirit.

"I'll be praying for Archbishop Stephen as he officially begins his new ministry and as we begin that new adventure."

The  Archbishop Elect was born in  Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, in 1958 and took up his current role as Bishop of Chelmsford in 2010.

He is married to Rebecca, a potter, and they have three sons.

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