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

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. On 9 July he became the Archbishop of York.

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

The process is now well underway to discern who God is calling to be  the next Bishop of Chelmsford.

On this web page you will find:

  1. Prayer resources
  2. The process explained:
    1. The Diocesan Statement of Needs
    2. The Diocesan Consultation
    3. The Crown Nominations Commission
  3. Have your say- contact your Crown Nominations Commission representatives
  4. 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 resources as we travel 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 discernment process. You can share your prayers with us at


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

The Vacancy in See Committee has two important roles, to prepare a Diocesan Statement of Needs and to elect members to the Crown Nominations Commission.

The Diocesan Statement of Needs and Consultation

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

The Chelmsford Diocese Vacancy in See Committee, published the Diocesan Statement of Needs on 24 July. 

Read the Statement of Needs   

Download print friendly version   


The purpose of the Statement of Needs is to inform the Crown Nominations Commission and 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.


To help produce the Diocesan Statement of Needs, the Vacancy in See Committee organised a diocese wide consultation which closed on 4 July. More than 1,000 people, churches and groups had their say. The Vacancy in See Committee weighed all the comments offered and prayerfully discerned what should be included in the final text of the Statement of Needs.

Respondents were asked to consider answers to the following six questions:

  1. Can you tell us what you value most about the Church in your community as well as across Essex and East London?
  1. What challenges does the Church face in East London and Essex as we seek to share the Good News of Jesus?
  1. What wider issues would you like our next Bishop of Chelmsford to be passionate about?
  1. What qualities, skills or leadership characteristics will our next Bishop of Chelmsford require?
  1. What kind of person will our next Bishop of Chelmsford need to be (particularly as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic)?
  1. What else would you like to tell us?

The Vacancy in See Committee also produced special resources for children and young people which resulted in more than 100 responses from across the diocese including a submission from our Diocesan Youth Synod.

The Crown Nominations Commission

The second role of the Vacancy in See Committee is to elect six of its members on to the Crown Nominations Commission. This election took place on 30 June.  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. 

A list of the Diocesan Representatives  elected to the Crown Nominations Commission can be viewed here


Have your say- contact your Crown Nominations Commission representatives.

At the end of June and beginning of July the Appointment Secretary for the Archbishops and the Appointment Secretary for the Prime Minister met with representatives of the Church and the communities we serve to hear people’s views to inform their advice to the Crown Nominations Commission.

You are also invited to share your views and names of potential candidates with our Crown Nominations Commission representatives. To do so you can:


Write to: The Crown Nominations Commission Representatives, The Diocese of Chelmsford, 53 New Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1AT


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 have been 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. This has also been evident in the public consultation and the 1,000 responses we received from people, churches and groups across the diocese

The coronavirus pandemic and our recovery from it as a church and in our communities must also 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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