NORTHERN clergymen have welcomed the next Archbishop of York ahead of his virtual confirmation service.

Bishop Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell, who has called for the Church of England to be “more joyful and less anxious”will be confirmed in the second most senior clerical position in the Church of England on July 9, in a service broadcast entirely via video conference due to the Coronavirus restrictions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, a former Bishop of Durham will be presiding judge as Bishop Cottrell succeeds the Most Rev John Sentamu, who is stepping down after nearly 15 years as the archbishop for 12 dioceses which cover the northern third of England and the Isle of Man.

The service, which had been due to take place in York Minster, will be in two parts: a legal ceremony with readings, prayers and music; and a film marking the start of Bishop Stephen’s ministry as Archbishop of York.

It will include music from York Minster Choir and Manor Church of England Academy School in York. Young people from across the North of England, will read a letter written by the medieval religious scholar Alcuin of York.

Bishop Cottrell, who is a married father-of-three, said: “I am looking forward to beginning my ministry as the 98th Archbishop of York. This isn’t quite how I imagined it would begin. It is certainly the first time an Archbishop’s election will have been confirmed via video conference.”

Commenting on behalf of the Bishops of the Northern Province, the Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman said: “The Bishops of the Province of York welcome Bishop Stephen to his new ministry and look forward to working with him in serving communities across the north and in building confidence in the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Dr Nick Land, chair of the House of Laity in York Diocesan Synod and Chair of the Vacancy in See Committee said: “Anyone spending any time with him will be struck by Bishop Stephen’s deep love for God and his infectious enthusiasm for telling people about Jesus. My prayer and expectation is he will lead us in deepening our personal commitment to Christ and will help us become more confident in sharing the good news of the Gospel.”