Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Bishop's Progress

It has been announced that the Bishop of Reading, Rt Rev Stephen Cotterell, will be leaving his post to become the 10th Bishop of Chelmsford.

He explained that the feeling is one of 'coming home' for him.

Bishop of Oxford, Rt Rev John Pritchard, summed up the "bold evangelism... and inspired communication" which marked his charge's period in office.

The Reading Post is less deferential towards the man they describe as a 'self-styled crazy bishop'.

Bishop Cotterell was appointed in 2003 after the previous nominee stood down in a row over homosexuality which threatened to provoke traditionalists into schism. The seven-year tenure has also been marked by turbulence surrounding Bishop Cotterell's interventions in political debate.

However in a clear indication of the direction of the Church, he is credited with successfully helping to oversee a redefinition of the role of religion in society through the espousal of causes such as opposition to nuclear weapons and the Trident replacement at Aldermastion's nearby Atomic Weapons Establishment, so the move will be seen as a vindication of his ministry.

He has already declared his mission in Chelmsford to highlight environmental issues and reconnect with young people. He called for the church to be a vocal opponent of racism as he urged against voting for BNP candidates in Essex, adding, "I am hungry for us to be a church that connects with every person and every community."

His latest podcast sermon leaves a tantalising series of hints about his recent thinking.

In a less-than-veiled criticism of the media he identifies his role as a 'sentinel' who looks beyond immediate concerns to warn about the threats which face society and offer a path "to show us where we're going".


Update: Robert Warlow reports Bishop Cotterell's reaction to his royal nomination as an 'immense privilege'.

Oranjepan asks:
The journeying clergyman with the populist left-wing touch may be returning home but this promotion shows his card is already marked for a higher calling.

Will Reading's next Bishop stir the mix of politics and religion equally strongly?

Is Chelmsford really a more important ecclesiastical seat than Reading?

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