Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Chelmsford! Essex! You Lucky People!

Much spontaneous warmth, joy and prayer yesterday at our Bucks area deans meeting for +Stephen Cottrell, called to be Bishop of Chelmsford. Having had the odd enquiry from friends East of Eden about what they’re in for, I can say this. Stephen is one of the most enjoyable and supportive friends I’ve ever worked with, and as an erstwhile fellow enfant terrible I will seriously miss his clear sightedness, holy pragmatism, warmth and humour.

What kind of disciple? Well, like the Church of England is supposed to, he runs Gospel (or Evangelical) software on Catholic hardware. He is clearly focussed on the kingdom, and has a real knack for drawing people into Bible passages reflectively at a level you can take away and think about. He is an Evangelism nut. He’s shrewd, but far more interested in holiness than politics. This approach seems to cut through squabbling and ego dressed as faith like a knife through butter (I don't know whether Chelmsford keeps its butter in the fridge.)

This looks like a great match. Stephen’s proud of Essex and coming from Essex; he has absolutely no side to him, to use a rather old-fashioned phrase. I will miss him a lot, and follow his joint adventures with his new diocese with real expectancy that God can stir you up to all kinds of fruitful labour if you let him. O people of Essex (and the bits of East London that some people think are Essex really), you are blessed. You have got yourselves the right man.

14 comments:

Philip Ritchie said...

Thank you +Alan, many of us really do feel blessed by this appointment. I was thrilled to hear +Stephen speak so passionately about the Gospel in his press conference yesterday and as another bishop has commented it's time to 'fasten your missional seat belts'. This is a tremendous answer to prayer.

David said...

I echo your comments Bishop Alan.

I'm just a bit gutted that we missed out on Stephen. It was, I guess, a long shot but I thought he would have made a great Bishop of Rochester too.

So many vacancies at the moment and so many good people being appointed that I hope we don't miss out!

Sam Norton said...

I think there is general rejoicing over here - not least to finally get an appointment at last! It does seem a very good fit, and I'm looking forward to getting to know +Stephen and - hopefully - getting inspired. I would have to say, however (as another Essex boy born and bred) that we generally feel ourselves to be lucky people already! :o)

Elwin Cockett said...

Thanks, +Alan. We're really looking forward +Stephen's return to Chelmsford Diocese.

We're not being greedy, though: We're happy still to lend you your rather wonderful Essex-born Archdeacon Karen (For the moment, that is).

paul said...

Yep, feeling pretty blessed here in south Essex. +Stephen said some pretty strong and positive things about sustainable living and the Christian tradition, yesterday, a pleasant sound in the ears of the Faith in Action Advisor, here, and currently pursuing some young Xtn eco-champion projects across the Diocese! Let's get to work!!!... ;-)

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

There's an interesting and little understood mystical link between you lot and here. Not only, as you say, is Karen ministering here, but the Archdeacon of Oxford comes from Essex, and I myself fist heard the Christian gospel in the Sunday School of St Margaret's Barking. But that's another tale.

Richard Gillin said...

+Stephen was wonderful at our Diocesan pilgrimage a couple of years back (here in sunny St Albans, betwixt and between Oxford and Chelmsford). He is exactly what the House of Bishops needs, and what Chelmsford will be blessed to have. Let's hope he keeps finding the time to write, and here's also to him learning how to blog as well ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ah, the fake joy that attends ecclesiastical appointment! "We are so over-joyed that Anthony Suit will be becoming our bishop, such joy, such holiness, such excitement, a real friendliness" (etc etc until you puke). I can't remember anyone incoming being received with anything else.

From the stale flattery, I infer that the guy is just yet another faceless timeserver, climbing the greasy pole and treading on those beneath him.

I see he has already uttered the eco-creed. No doubt he will soon tell us how Jesus blesses those who wish to wed their donkeys (or whatever vice is currently being pressed by those unbelievers who control ecclesiastical appointments).

I feel rather sorry for you. Why not regain some self-respect? Go and get a job as an honest bin man. You won't have to prostitute yourself with flattery like this. (And you'll probably get paid more, and get to meet a nicer class of people). Seriously ... is any life worth this kind of self-abasement?

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Dear Anon, I have been a close working colleague of Stephen's for the past six years, indeed am sharing an event with him as I write.

I have not found him to be any of the things you say he is, but everyone must form their own opinion.

Many will wonder at the level of self respect of anyone who snipes out of anonymity at someone of whom they obviously know nothing, but I publish your comment to show there are some very sick bunnies out there.

MikeCamel said...

Everyone I've spoken to in Chelmsford diocese so far is both excited and relieved. Stephen's name had come up as "person we'd most like to be appointed" from a couple of people, and I think he's going to be a great fit. I've also heard disappointment from those losing him.

I like the binman comparison. Mainly because bishops and binmen both get to meet - and serve - everybody. They don't get the option. Hmm.

Philip Ritchie said...

Anon, difficult to take anyone seriously if they aren't prepared to have the courage of their convictions and instead hide behind a cloak of secrecy. Many of us in Chelmsford are delighted at +Stephen's appointment because we know him and have been praying for the appointment of such a mission focused and prayerful colleague.

I first heard +Stephen speak at a diocesan conference in the mid 1990s. There were several well known speakers and he stepped in at the last minute for someone who dropped out; Stephen's is the contribution I remember. He then headed up a Springboard mission in the diocese demonstrating a clear commitment to, and gift for, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. His books have a practical, down to earth quality which many of us have found helpful in ministry.

This is why I and many others in the diocese believe +Stephen's appointment to be an answer to prayer.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

The anon comment does illustrate, lest anyone doubt it, just how silly and irrational some obsessions of out there are. I find his comment about Stephen being "a faceless time server" particularly off-target.

I do, however also warm to his his picture of the honest bin man, not only because it's the only part of his descripton that does remind me of some aspects of doing the job I do, but because I have long been a fan of the legendary Scripture Union soundstrip "In the Bin."

Hope our anon friend discovers the kind of faith that would allow the Lord to remove his pathetic mask and give him the kind of basic self-respect that would enable him to use his name.

Julie said...

Thanks for publishing Bishop Colin - such a great piece - what you see is what you get!

Stephen is far, far from 'a faceless timeserver, climbing the greasy pole and treading on those beneath him.' Anon, please go along to any of the events Stephen is holding and introduce yourself ... '

Julie said...

.... so very sorry .... no reflection upon the comment ... only got the wrong Bishop! Please forgive me + Alan :)))

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