Exclusive: Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell Is Favourite To Be Bishop Of London

The next Bishop of London will be enthroned at St Paul's Cathedral, pictured here at sunrise on December 29.Reuters

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, has been named as the favourite to succeed Richard Chartres as Bishop of London.

Cottrell is 3/1 favourite with bookmakers William Hill for the Church of England's third most senior job after Archbishop of Canterbury and York.

Although the formal appointments process has not yet begun, his name is increasingly being spoken of in Church circles as someone with the experience and charisma to lead the Church of England's fastest-growing, most diverse and most complex diocese.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell has called for schools of discipleship for adultsWiki

The many duties of the new bishop will include sitting in the House of Lords and acting as Dean of the Chapels Royal, in which role he or she will work closely with the monarch, her heir and the entire Royal family. 

Cottrell is much-loved in Chelmsford where he has pioneered "mission units" where small groups of people from different parishes work together to support church plants and other initiatives.

His work in Chelmsford, which borders London, also means he has come to know his neighbour well.

Cottrell made his name as suffragan Bishop of Reading, where he brought healing to the Oxford diocese, fractured by the controversy over an attempt to appoint Dr Jeffrey John, a partnered gay clergyman who instead became Dean of St Albans.

He is originally from the Church's Catholic wing but has demonstrated gifts that appeal across the spectrum. Like many "missional Catholics", he has embraced mission throughout his ministry. He supports the forward thinking of the current hierarchy, through initiatives such as "Reform and Renewal" introduced under the leadership of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, an evangelical.

Evangelicals dominate the bookmaker's top 10. 

Second favourite is Bishop of Gloucester Rachel Treweek at 4/1. She was the first woman diocesan bishop when she moved to Gloucester last year but before that was in the London diocese, rising to Archdeacon of Northolt and then Hackney. She is well known in the diocese and, again, popular with clergy and laity. 

Third is Rose Hudson-Wilkin at 5/1, chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and with a high media profile. 

Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, is fourth at 6/1 followed by Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart at 8/1. Bishop of Newcastle Christine Hardman, Bishop of Kensington Graham Tomlin and Dean of York Vivienne Faull are in joint seventh place, at 10/1.

Paul Williams, Bishop of Soutwell and Nottingham and former Area Bishop of Kensington, is another name to watch. Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson and Bishop of Truro Tim Thornton.