Archbishop of York pays tribute to his friend David Amess

In the House of Lords on 18th October 2021 Peers paid tribute to Sir David Amess MP, following his tragic murder. The Archbishop of York, Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke of his friendship with Sir David during his time as Bishop of Chelmsford, how his faith motivated him, and of the need for more kindness in politics.

My Lords, on behalf of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of the Church of England and, I am sure, all Christian people and all people of good will, I am here to offer the family of Sir David Amess and the constituents of Southend West my condolences and the assurance of the prayers of the Church. I am very grateful for all that has been said thus far, and, certainly, we on these Benches wish to associate ourselves with those comments.

As was said, I considered David Amess a friend. Leigh-on-Sea is my home town. Southend—now the city of Southend—is where I grew up. This appalling murder happened in streets I know well, just around the corner from where my mum lives. It was characteristic of David, whom I got to know during my time as Bishop of Chelmsford, that, when I was appointed, he was one of the first people to congratulate me. When I was translated to York, it was the same. He thought this was another way of putting Southend on the map: a boy who went to a secondary modern school in Southend was now the 98th Archbishop of York. He was so pleased. Last time I saw him, he asked to have his photograph taken with me.

I reckon that, now Southend has been declared a city today, forget about a statue of Vera Lynn at Dover; we are going to put a statue of David Amess at the end of Southend pier. He was—and I know this from the work I did with him—a deeply committed constituency MP. He exemplified what that means. He knew the people he served, and in the constituency he was completely colour blind to political difference. He just served the people he had been elected to serve.


But I want to say this: hate cannot win. It may score many points and land many punches, but it cannot win, because, trusting no one, hate just ends up with endless divisions and suspicions, and, in the end, it just consumes itself. Sorry—I am going to go into sermon mode just for a moment, sisters and brothers. Love is always stronger; it is always more tenacious; its patient endurance draws us together. By love, I mean not just warm feelings of well-disposed good will but that deeply committed determination to get up each morning and live what you believe in, put the needs of others before yourself and recognise our common humanity. That is where the word “kindness” comes from: it is linked to the word “kin”. It means that we belong to each other; we serve the common good; we know that our best interests are absolutely interwoven with those of others, and they lead to those things, those values and that vision, that are worth living for.

This love is what we on these Benches see in Jesus Christ. It was that love and faith in Christ within the community of the Church that was the source and sustenance of David Amess’s vision and values. It was this that enabled him to reach across party-political divides, get on well with everyone and exhibit a good-humoured generosity and a kindness that is, sadly, often woefully lacking in public and political discourse today.

These same values, this same vision, are held in our democracy. They require us to listen and to love one another, especially those with whom we differ and disagree, and to attend to each other’s needs and serve the common good. They call us to speak kindly of each other, to think well of each other and to act generously. It is because Sir David Amess so exemplified those things, regardless of what his politics happened to be, that we are so easily able to come together and remember him, to esteem his contribution to public life and to mourn his death—but not be defeated by the hatred that killed him.

I will conclude with some words that I wrote in a newspaper yesterday about his faith:

“David Amess didn’t wear his faith on his sleeve. He wore it in his heart.”

That is the best place for faith because, when you wear it in your heart, it shapes everything.

Bishop of Durham pays tribute to retiring Lord Speaker

On 12th May 2021 tributes were paid in the House of Lords to Lord Fowler, the retiring Lord Speaker. The Bishop of Durham spoke on behalf of the Lords Spiritual:


The Lord Bishop of Durham: It is my privilege to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, from the Spiritual Benches. I start with a specific reflection from these Benches on our leading of Prayers at the start of each day. The noble Lord was consistently considerate and courteous, taking the time to personally thank the duty Bishop for their prayers on each occasion. It was a small, kind gesture that meant more than he may have realised.

We all know of the noble Lord’s long-term, ongoing dedication and perseverance in addressing HIV. His patient persistence is admirable and notable. As he continues with this commendable work, as a UN ambassador, we trust he will further help it move forward. As it happens, this morning, before we began business, I was on a call with Christian Aid, for Christian Aid Week, with people from Kenya who were reflecting not only on climate change but the ongoing impact of AIDS in their country. It is work that needs to continue.

Continue reading “Bishop of Durham pays tribute to retiring Lord Speaker”

Bishop of Peterborough pays tribute to retiring Principal Doorkeeper

On 5th November 2019 the House of Lords paid tribute to Keith Phipps, Principal Doorkeeper and one of its longest-serving members of staff, on his retirement after 25 years of service. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, added his own words of appreciation:

Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, on behalf on these Benches I join in the tributes that others have paid. Each of us coming into the House has been greeted and welcomed. We have been guided, led in right directions and stopped from going in wrong ones, always with firmness and kindness. It is that kindness for which I thank Mr Phipps as I, like others, wish him a long, happy, healthy retirement.

via Parliament.uk

Archbishop pays tribute to HRH the Prince of Wales on his 70th birthday

On 14th November 2018 the House of Lords paid tribute to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on the occasion of his 70th birthday. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt Hon Justin Welby, spoke on behalf of the Bishops’ Benches:

Continue reading “Archbishop pays tribute to HRH the Prince of Wales on his 70th birthday”

William Temple, Lord Spiritual

William Temple was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1942 until his untimely death on 26th October 1944. He also served as Archbishop of York (1929–42) and Bishop of Manchester (1921–29).

© National Portrait Gallery, London
© National Portrait Gallery, London

He was introduced to the House of Lords as Bishop of Manchester on 8th July 1925 and made his maiden speech two weeks later, during a debate on improving housing for the working classes. Continue reading “William Temple, Lord Spiritual”

Bishop of Chester pays tribute to Lord Carrington

On 10th July 2018 the House of Lords paid tribute to the late Lord Carrington. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, paid tribute on behalf of the Lords Spiritual:

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, from these Benches I endorse all that has been so eloquently said about this remarkable man. I shall add two more local footnotes. The family home of Lord Carrington is in Bledlow in Buckinghamshire. He never made anything of this but he would open his gardens every year, and over his lifetime more than £100,000 was raised for local charities. That is the sort of man that he was. Continue reading “Bishop of Chester pays tribute to Lord Carrington”

Bishop of Winchester pays tribute to former Leader of the House of Lords

On 20th March 2018 the House of Lords paid tribute to former Leader of the House, Lord Richards, whose death had been announced. The Bishop of Winchester paid tribute on behalf of the Bishops’ Benches:

The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, on behalf of these Benches, I also pay tribute to Lord Richard and associate myself with the comments already made. Lord Richard’s life was clearly one devoted to public service: MP, ambassador to the United Nations, where he worked hard on both the Middle East and then Rhodesia, and EU Commissioner before coming to this House, where he first became Leader of the Opposition and ultimately Leader of the House. Most of us aspire to making an impression in one area alone: he clearly excelled in many. Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester pays tribute to former Leader of the House of Lords”

Bishop of Winchester pays tribute to departing Black Rod

On 20 February 2018 the Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Tim Dakin, paid tribute to the outgoing Black Rod, Sir David Leakey, and welcomed the first female Black Rod, Sarah Clarke, to her new role. 

The Lord Bishop of Winchester: My Lords, from these Benches I emphasise our gratitude to Sir David, particularly for the steadfast and dependable way he supported this House during quite a challenging term of office, with threats to the building from without and within. He will be remembered by the Lords spiritual especially for the time he took to welcome each one of us when we first arrived, and of course for his self-deprecating sense of humour.

Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester pays tribute to departing Black Rod”

Bishop of Southwark pays tribute to retiring Clerk of the Parliaments

southwark-20feb17On 24th April 2017, Baroness Evans of Bowes Park led the House in paying tribute to the retiring Clerk of Parliaments, Sir David Beamish. The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke on behalf of the Lords Spiritual.

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I warmly associate myself with the words of tribute already spoken and add my own on behalf of the Lords Spiritual. Sir David Beamish has combined wise counsel, trusty support and firm friendship for all on these Benches, and my colleagues and I have greatly benefited from his guidance. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark pays tribute to retiring Clerk of the Parliaments”

Archbishop responds to terror attack on Westminster

On Thursday 23rd March 2017 the House of Lords paid tribute to those who had been killed and injured, and to first responders, during the previous day’s terror attack in Westminster. The House also heard a repeat of the statement given in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby spoke of the “deep values” in British society that give us the strength to persevere:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I associate myself with the thanks and tributes paid today, and especially our prayers and thoughts for PC Keith Palmer and for his family. I also acknowledge the work of so many members of the public who pitched in and did what they needed to do when faced with things for which they had never been trained or prepared. Yesterday afternoon one of our own security staff at Lambeth Palace, a Muslim, arrived at the gate having been very narrowly missed by the vehicle and having spent time helping those who had been injured. It was typical of this community and this country that he refused to go home until the end of his shift and simply spent the time doing his job as he expected.

Continue reading “Archbishop responds to terror attack on Westminster”
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