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

Help Identify the Next Bishop of Chelmsford - Consultation Now Open

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.

The process includes a diocesan consultation that will run until 4 July.

Complete Consultation Online 

On this web page you will find:

  1. Prayer resources
  2. Have your say - take part in our consultation
  3. Organising your own consultation activity
  4. The process explained
  5. 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 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 discernment process. You can share your prayers with us


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.


To produce the Diocesan Statement of Needs, the Vacancy in See Committee is organising a diocese wide consultation that will be open until 4 July. We want as many people as possible to have their say and we are 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.

Complete Consultation Online   

Download Printable Consultation   

Email your response

Printed copies of the consultation can be posted to ‘The Vacancy in See Committee, Diocese of Chelmsford, 53 New Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1AT.

If you are emailing your consultation response, please try to structure your response using the following 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 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.

Organising your own consultation activity

We are encouraging our church and community leaders to organise their own consultation activity and to promote the consultation within their own parishes and communities. Here are 3 ways church and community leaders can help:

  • 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. Please email your prayers to
  • Organise your own consultation activity. 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 to the consultation. Resources can be downloaded here
  • Help raise awareness. Please help to encourage people in your own parish and community to have their say as an individual.  Resources can be downloaded here

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.


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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