Archbishop of York John Sentamu marks retirement with virtual services

by Press Association

The Archbishop of York has taken part in virtual church services to mark his last day before he retires from the role after 15 years.

John Sentamu reflected on his life during a service broadcast across the BBC local radio network and an online session for the Church of England.

He will be succeeded by Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, who will be confirmed in a virtual service next month.

Dr Sentamu’s daughter, the Rev Grace Sentamu-Baverstock, led the service on the BBC, which also featured his wife, the Rev Margaret Sentamu.

Opening the service, Ms Sentamu-Baverstock made reference to the coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd.

She said: “As well as being Trinity Sunday, today is also the day Archbishop Sentamu steps down from his role as Archbishop of the Northern Province.

“A day for looking back with thanksgiving and blessing but also looking forward with hope, for all of us are facing big questions about the future.

“All of us have felt the impact of the Covid-19 health emergency.

“No doubt many of you have read, heard or seen the horrific and outrageous death of George Floyd in America and the subsequent civil unrest. We’ve witnessed thousands of people taking to the streets demanding change, demanding justice.

“So it is right that, this morning, we hold this situation in our prayers and our hearts.”

During the service, produced by BBC Radio York, Dr Sentamu said: “I have lived through the Idi Amin brutality in Uganda, salmonella poisoning, a burst appendix, prostate cancer and three serious operations.”

He went on to deliver the sermon during the Church of England’s weekly online service.

Speaking in a recorded message from the Archbishop Desmond Tutu garden and orchard at Bishopthorpe Palace in York, he said: “I was 10 years old when I responded to Jesus Christ’s invitation to become his friend and to discover his plan for my present and my future.

“Sixty-one years on, I truly know I was lovingly invited into God’s glorious community of love, rooted in faithfulness and friendliness.

“And throughout my life, I have found God in these experiences.”

The service was led by the Rev Hannah Madin, of St Mary’s and Holy Apostles in Scarborough, and also featured broadcaster and newsreader Huw Edwards, reading the George Herbert poem Love Bade Me Welcome.

Introducing the service, Ms Madin said: “Our preacher today is the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, on this day that he retires from office.

“Later he will lay down his pastoral staff on the altar at York Minster, concluding nearly 15 years as Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of England.

“With him, we worship and glorify God today, giving thanks for all his blessings in life and in ministry.”

Earlier in the week, Dr Sentamu said: “It has been a great joy and privilege to serve as Archbishop of York these past 15 years.

“Not only did I get to live in God’s own county, but I have been able to be a voice for the North, championing the cause of those who live here.”