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Cottrell steps into William Temple’s shoes in York

19 October 2020

Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions

The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, preaches at his enthronement service in York Minster on Sunday

The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, preaches at his enthronement service in York Minster on Sunday

THE Archbishop of York, newly enthroned in York Minster, has spoken of the “hope, relief, and practical help” that the Church has brought to communities affected by the coronavirus.

In the sermon during his enthronement service on Sunday, he referred to the uncertainty and fear felt by many, especially those in the north, and paid tribute to the work carried out by the National Health Service.

He put this in the context of one of his predecessors. “This is a time of huge challenge, uncertainty, and fearfulness in our world. I am conscious that I’m standing in the shoes of some very great forebears, not least a man like William Temple, who, during the darkest hours of the Second World War, with others, dreamed of what the peace may look like, and how literally devastated cities would be rebuilt; but also a moral vision for the rebuilding of a nation.

“He was one of the architects of that post-war consensus that gave birth to a welfare state, and to that NHS that we stood out on the streets and clapped every Thursday evening during the hardest days of lockdown,” he said.

Duncan Lomax, Ravage ProductionsThe Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, at his enthronement service in York Minster on Sunday

His enthronement as the 98th Archbishop of York took place during evensong on the feast of St Luke. A limited number of people were in attendance, and music was sung by the minster choir, without contributions from the congregation. The service was streamed online.

Archbishop Cottrell has been in post since the confirmation of his election, broadcast on Zoom earlier in the summer (News, 10 July). On Sunday, he took his oath of office on the 1000-year-old York Gospels, held at the Minster since 1020.

During his sermon, he urged people to remember other essential workers beside those in the NHS who “kept us going: those who stack supermarket shelves, volunteer in foodbanks, drive delivery vans, or collect prescriptions.”

And he sought to look more deeply at what the UK was experiencing. “I also think we were clapping a set of ideas that are very dear to us: a belief about our common humanity which says that we belong to each other, and have a responsibility to each other, and that we are at our very best when we build communities of love which look out for and cherish each other, so that there is health care for everyone, not just for those who can pay.”

He concluded with a call to action: “Let’s put this sign up outside our churches. Let’s wear it on our sleeves and declare it to the world: ‘Everyone is welcome. Here is a place and here is a people where you will be safe, where you will be loved, where you will be accepted. This is where you will find hope for the world and a new vision for a new humanity. Enter here and be changed. Not into somebody else, but into the beautiful person you are meant to be.

“‘Then join with us in changing the world.’”

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