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.