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Help Identify the Next Bishop of Chelmsford

Help Identify the Next Bishop of Chelmsford

On 12 April 2020 Bishop Stephen Cottrell left his role of Bishop of Chelmsford after nearly a decade in post. Later this year he will become the Archbishop of York.

We thank him for his huge contribution to our diocese and we will be praying for him and his wife Rebecca as they embark on a new chapter in their ministry.


The process is now underway to discern who God is calling to be  the next Bishop of Chelmsford and as part of that process we want to hear what you think.

On this web page you will find:

Prayer resources

The process explained

How you can have your say through our consultation which will open on 11 May.

The implications of the Coronavirus Pandemic 



Prayer resources

The Very Reverend Nicholas Henshall, the Dean of Chelmsford has produced some prayer resources for use during the discernment process.

You can download the resources here

We encourage you to use these as we embark on this important journey together. Please also consider whether there is a prayer you wish to submit to us as an offer for sharing

more widely during the appointment process. There will be an opportunity to submit your prayers when the consultation opens.

A prayer for discernment

God of provision and care,
discernment and knowledge:
lead us in your love,
empower us by your Spirit,
and equip us with your gifts;
give us hearts full of love for all people,
minds open to the signs of the times,
and wisdom to know how to respond
to the voice of your calling;
We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.



The Process

When a diocesan bishop leaves their role in the Church of England, the process to find and appoint the next bishop is started.

The Diocesan Vacancy in See Committee manages and oversees this process within the diocese and is made up of elected members from the clergy and laity from each

Episcopal Area in the diocese and ex officio members- our area bishops, the Dean, two archdeacons and all our General Synod representatives. Bishop’s Council have elected

Canon Robert Hammond, Lay Chair of Diocesan Synod and a General Synod member as Chair of the Vacancy in See Committee.

A full list of the Vacancy in See Committee Members can be viewed here

The Vacancy in See Committee has two important roles: 

  1. The first role of the Vacancy in See Committee is to produce a Diocesan Statement of Needs on behalf of the diocese. The purpose of the Statement of Needs is to inform the

    Crown Nominations Commission (see point 2 below) and potential candidates about the diocese and the role of the Bishop of Chelmsford here in Essex and East London. It

    describes the diocese including the church and the communities we serve. The Statement of Needs also talks about the strengths of the church in the diocese, the challenges

    we face and the priorities for the next bishop.  This document is one of the pieces of information that will be used by the Crown Nominations Commission to finalise the role

    profile and person specification for the next bishop.

  2. To elect six of its members on to the Crown Nominations Commission. The Crown Nominations Commission will meet later this year and is the national body that submits the

    name of the person they believe God is calling to be the next Bishop to the Prime Minister who, if he or she accepts, will advise the Sovereign who formally nominates him or

    her. As well as the six representatives from the diocese, the Crown Nominations Commission also includes both Archbishops, (or their nominees) and six national

    representatives, three lay and three ordained, elected from and by the General Synod. The Archbishop’s Secretary for Appointments and the Prime Minister’s Appointments

    Secretary are non-voting members of the Commission.  The Archbishop of Canterbury will chair the Commission.




How you can have your say 

To produce the Diocesan Statement of Needs, the Vacancy in See Committee will be organising a diocese wide consultation. We want as many people as possible to have their

say and we will be encouraging submissions from churches, groups and individuals. After  the consultation is concluded the Vacancy in See Committee will weigh all comments

offered and prayerfully discern what should be included in the final text of the Statement of Needs.

The consultation opens on 11 May and will end on 4 July.

When the consultation launches we will provide a series of questions to help people structure their thinking and to aid group discussion.

The Appointment Secretaries for the Archbishops’ and the Prime Minister will also be holding meetings at the end of June and beginning of July with representatives of the

Church and the communities we serve to hear people’s views to inform their advice to the Crown Nominations Commission.


What you can do now to prepare for the consultation

There are three things you can do now to help prepare for the consultation:

  1. Please pray for discernment. Please use the prayer resources at the top of this page which have been written by the Very Reverend Nicholas Henshall, the Dean of Chelmsford. Please also

    consider whether there is a prayer you wish to submit to us as an offer for sharing more widely during the appointment process. We will explain how you can submit your prayer when the

    consultation opens.

  2. Help raise awareness. You can help us to make sure that people know about the consultation before it starts. The more people who know that the consultation is coming and the importance of

    their contribution, the more people we can expect to participate. 
     A range of resources including a model email, letter, newsletter article, social media graphics and copy can be found here

  3. If you are a leader, think about how you will engage others. If you are a leader of a church or a group of people connected to a church, (for example an Incumbent, Church Warden, PCC Chair,

    Area Dean, Lay Chair, Youth Leader or a leader of another organisation connected with the church), please think about how you can organise a group discussion so that your church or group can

    make a submission once the consultation opens. That will be more challenging than usual during the coronavirus pandemic. You might think about using video conferencing or telephone

    conference calls. It is important that we don’t exclude those who are uncomfortable with using technology. We will be providing you with resources to help you write to people and ask them to

    share their views in writing as well as advice and guidance on using technology to aid discussion and consultation.




The implications of the coronavirus pandemic on the process

The Chelmsford Vacancy in See process takes place in unprecedented circumstances because of the coronavirus pandemic. The response of the Church of England in Essex and

East London gives us huge confidence in our collective capability to make this a success.

Our church buildings are closed but the response of our churches has been compassionate, imaginative and energetic. We have seen the Holy Spirit at work through new ways

of worship and service to our communities. 

There are two significant implications of the pandemic that will be at the heart of our approach during the Vacancy in See process:


  1. In our consultation we will need to harness the new and imaginative approaches to communication that many of our churches have pioneered. At the same time we must

    ensure that nobody is excluded because they aren’t comfortable with new technology

  2. The coronavirus pandemic and our recovery from it as a church and in our communities must be central to our thinking and discussions about the new Bishop of Chelmsford

    and the landscape that they will serve in












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Page last updated: 25th November 2020 12:16 AM