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The next Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell on bridging the north-south divide

The next Archbishop of York has been announced today as Stephen Cottrell, the current Bishop of Chelmsford. He spoke to Premier's Tola Mbakwe about the north-south divide, the plus side of having a non-Christian background and the importance of not taking himself too seriously 

What is it about this new role that excites you the most? 

I'm really excited first of all on a human level about returning to the north of England where Rebecca and I lived for nine years.

Rebecca comes from Yorkshire and we've got family in Leeds. So although I am a southerner moving north, I'm really excited because I love that part of our country.

In terms of the ministry of the Church, I hope to be a voice for the north because there is a north-south divide. There are discrepancies of wealth and opportunity that need addressing.

Our new Prime Minister this week has spoken a lot about one nation. There are now Tory MPs in the north where there have never been Tory MPs before. I hope to work with those people at all levels of government saying, "let's build coalitions of goodwill, so that we can really be one nation, one humanity, and so that we can give opportunity to people."

But finally, most important of all, I want to share what God has done in Jesus Christ, because it's fantastic, good news for the human heart. So the thing that excites me the most is that I think in being Archbishop of York, doors will open that haven't happened before.

Are there any unique life experiences that you think may have prepared you for today?

I have had this sense for quite some time, but I didn't really talk about it because it sounds a bit weird when there's a whole process going on. But I have had a sense that God is calling me. And I know that's going to sustain me in the years ahead.

I wasn't brought up going to Church. So I've always felt that's given me a bit of an edge - I can still just about remember what it's like not being part of the church. And I think because so many of my beloved colleagues - bishops and priests and ministers - were brought up in the church, so how could they possibly imagine what it's like not to be part of it? I can. So I'm really hoping that might be really useful.

How can we be praying for you?

Please pray first of all that I won't take myself too seriously!

Please pray that I'll remember that I'm not in charge of the Church, Jesus is.

Please pray that God will open doors of opportunity and I'll have wisdom. I'm only one person with limited resources, so pray for the wisdom that I can make the right decisions about what to do with the time and the gifts that God has given me.

Bishop Stephen was speaking on Premier Christian Radio's News Hour programme, which is broadcast every week day at 1pm

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