Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Hundreds join Bishop Stephen online for final service

9th Apr 2020

The Bishop of Chelmsford led his final service on Maundy Thursday from his home, watched by hundreds of people on Zoom and on Facebook

The Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell led his final service as the Bishop of Chelmsford on Maundy Thursday from his home in Margaretting. He was joined by 450 people on Zoom and the service was also broadcast live on Facebook.

The virtual Diocesan Eucharist was in place of the annual Maundy Thursday Chrism Service which usually takes place at Chelmsford Cathedral. Traditionally, on Maundy Thursday Ministers renew their ministerial vows and the bishop blesses the oils that are used in churches across the diocese in the coming year.

Due to the suspension of public worship and closure of church buildings because of the current coronavirus pandemic, the service was hosted online. The audience included many Clergy and Lay Ministers from across the diocese who joined in and re-affirmed the ministerial vows they originally took when they became ordained or licenced.

Bishop Stephen was joined online by colleagues including the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall, the Dean of Chelmsford, Revd Ade Eleyae, the Bishop’s Equality Adviser, Revd Andrew Appiah, Deacon from Holy Trinity Church, Barkingside and Revd Laura Garham, Assistant in the Benefice of Great Oakley, Wix, Wrabness, Tendring and Beaumont-cum-Moze, who led prayers and gave readings.

Speaking at the start of the service the Bishop Stephen said:

As we live through these dark and difficult days and as we seek to serve our communities in new ways, there is much we are learning about Christian ministry and discipleship. When I planned my farewell to the Diocese, I had hoped that on this Maundy Thursday I would gather with the clergy and lay ministers of the diocese to thank you for our partnership in the gospel. But now I find myself not just welcoming you, but welcoming many others from across the diocese and I thank you all for your ministry and your service.”

Bishop Stephen will leave his role as the Bishop of Chelmsford on Easter Sunday and will prepare to take on new responsibilities as the next Archbishop of York in the summer. As part of the Maundy Thursday service, Bishop Stephen commissioned the Right Reverend Peter Hill, the Bishop of Barking, as acting Bishop of Chelmsford.

Bishop Peter thanked Bishop Stephen for leadership, service and fellowship as he accepted the commission to lead the diocese.

Bishop Peter said:

I thank you for your commissioning and for giving me God’s blessing today.  At this time of challenge I accept and receive that commission to lead, to serve and at times maybe to weep as you stated in the days to come. Yet I know that I remain but one part of a truly servant team here is this mighty diocese of Chelmsford that will lead us in mission into what will be, to some extent, a very new world.”

The Maundy Thursday service is one of many acts of worship being streamed live in the diocese of Chelmsford this Holy Week. Ministers from across East London and Essex are using digital communications to encourage home worship and to stay connected with their local communities. Many church leaders are live streaming services online from their homes through platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.


More information

Diocesan Eucharist – Watch again

Watch the Maundy Thursday Diocesan Eucharist with the Renewal of Commitment to ministry led by Bishop Stephen on our Youtube Channel


Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday of Holy Week. It is when Christians remember Jesus sharing the Last Supper with his disciples before his death. At the Last Supper Jesus washed the disciples' feet. Traditionally, some churches recreate this act of service at special services and events.

On Maundy Thursday, Clergy and Church Leaders in the diocese of Chelmsford usually attend a Chrism service in Chelmsford Cathedral and renewal their ministerial vows.


Live Streaming

During the coronavirus pandemic, many Clergy and Church Leaders across Essex and East London have been live streaming services from their homes as a way of staying connected with their congregations whilst our churches are closed.

The national church finding website, lists all the livestreams taking place in all Church of England Diocese.


Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidance for churches

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 March 2020, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote to clergy in support of the measures, requiring that churches must close both for private worship and public services.

All Church of England church buildings are now closed for public worship, private prayer and all other meetings and activities except for vital community services until further notice. 


Bishop Stephen

It was announced in December 2019 that Stephen Cottrell had been nominated by Her Majesty the Queen as the new Archbishop of York in succession to the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu.  He will leave the Diocese Chelmsford at Easter and will take on his new responsibilities in York this summer.


Bishop Peter

Bishop Peter Hill is the Bishop of Barking. He currently leads the Barking Episcopal Area in the Diocese of Chelmsford which comprises the  five east London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest  and parts of West Essex with the support of three Archdeacons (Barking, West Ham and Harlow).

Bishop Peter will be the acting Bishop of Chelmsford until a new Diocesan Bishop is appointed.