About The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford
Stephen Cottrell was born and brought up in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where many of his family still live. He went to Belfairs High School and then to the Polytechnic of Central London where he studied film and the media and then went on to work in the film industry. During his second year at college he lived in Walthamstow. Discerning a call to ordination, he worked for a year at St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham.
Stephen was ordained deacon in 1984 and priest in 1985. An ordinand of the Diocese of Chelmsford, he ended up serving his title at Christ Church & St Paul’s, Forest Hill in the Diocese of Southwark having trained for ordination at St Stephen’s House in Oxford. He likes to think that the Diocese of Chelmsford is, at last, getting a return on its investment. He went onto become Priest-in-Charge of St Wilfrid’s, Parklands, a small council estate parish on the edge of Chichester, and Assistant Director of Pastoral Studies at Chichester Theological College. This was an exciting time. The church grew in numbers and there was lots of involvement between parish and college.
In 1993 he became Diocesan Missioner for the Diocese of Wakefield. It was here that he was part of a group that wrote and developed the Emmaus programme for evangelism, nurture and discipleship. Emmaus is used by hundreds of churches in Britain and around the world, and has been translated into several languages. He was also involved in the leadership and co-ordination of a very large city-wide mission to Chester. In 1997 he began working for Springboard, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s and York’s initiative for evangelism. This involved teaching and speaking about evangelism and leading missions and conferences in England and also in the Anglican Communion. Throughout this time he and his family were based and worshipped at the Urban Priority Area parish of St Thomas’, Huddersfield, itself a great centre for worship and mission.
In 2001 Stephen Cottrell became Canon Pastor and Vice-Dean of Peterborough Cathedral, where he was been responsible for the pastoral care and faith development of the congregation, and the Cathedral’s links with the local community.
In 2004 he was appointed Area Bishop of Reading in the Diocese of Oxford. The Reading Episcopal Area covers the whole of the old county of Berkshire and is larger than many dioceses. During this time he was very involved in ecumenical developments and mission in Reading itself, and chaired the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education.
Stephen’s passions for ministry have always involved evangelism and teaching and commending the Christian faith. He has led many parish missions. He has done lots of work with children and young people, particularly in schools. He hopes all this will continue in the Diocese of Chelmsford. Stephen is on the Governing Body and is a founder member of the College of Evangelists. He has served on the Church of England’s Mission, Renewal and Evangelism committee. He has been a member of the Advisory group for Anglican Church Planting Initiatives. He was also a member of the Springboard Executive. He chairs the Church of England’s Religion in Media group. He is Warden of the Community of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage and Visitor to the Society of the Precious Blood.
Stephen has written widely about evangelism, the work of initiation and spirituality. His best selling I Thirst (Zondervan) was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book for 2004. His other books include From the Abundance of the Heart: Catholic evangelism for all Christians (DLT); Do Nothing to Change your Life: Discovering what happens when you stop (CHP); Hit the Ground Kneeling: Seeing leadership differently (CHP); two books of meditations for Good Friday and Easter, The Things He Carried and The Things He Said (SPCK). His most recent book is called How to Pray (CHP). He has also written a book of children’s stories, The Adventures of Naughty Nora (BRF).
Stephen’s interests include writing, reading, cooking and music. He is a keen Spurs fan, but also supports his local team wherever he lives, so at various points has followed Southend United, Leyton Orient, Portsmouth, Huddersfield, Peterborough and Reading. Back in Essex he plans to return to where he started and support Southend. They need it. He is married to Rebecca, who is a potter. They have three sons and one dog.