Archbishop in prayer at enthronement

Enthronement at York Minster

97th Archbishop for York and Primate of England

It is imperative that the Church regains her vision and confidence in mission, developing ways that will enable the Church of England to reconnect imaginatively with England.

Archbishop Sentamu, 2005

On the 17th June 2005 the announcement in Westminster of John Sentamu’s appointment caused a wave of excitement in York, with the news that he and his wife Margaret would be travelling to York that afternoon for a short service of prayer followed by a news conference at York Minster.

Greeted by the Dean of York, the Archbishop-designate walked the length of the Minster to kneel at the high altar during a short service of welcome and dedication for his new role.

A short news conference in the Chapter House rapidly morphed into nearly two hours of live interviews for radio and television outside in Dean’s Park, ending when the Sentamus had to catch their train back to Birmingham

The day of the Enthronement, St Andrew’s Day, 30th November 2005 was dry but overcast and very cold – outside the Minster and inside too. The ceremony was witnessed by a 3,000-strong congregation in the Minster and 1,500 by a television link in St Michael-le-Belfrey.

As 11.30 approached the day began to unfold; the clergy of the Diocese of York filed up the street from the Assembly Rooms where they’d robed while the new Archbishop prepared himself in the Purey Cust Hospital.

He had arrived in York by boat from Bishopthorpe Landing, waved up the Ouse by crowds of well-wishers who then accompanied him on foot through the Museum Gardens to the Minster.

The service was full of novelty – African-style singing and dancing by groups from parishes in London, a worship band from St Michael-le-Belfrey church next door to the Minster, and a drumming Archbishop – but also full of tradition as the 97th Archbishop knocked at the Minster door with his staff and was installed in his cathedra by the Dean. 

The Archbishop's Inauguration Sermon on the theme of corporate discipleship and fraternal belonging is available to read in full here

The then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, anointed Dr Sentamu; the first time an Archbishop of Canterbury had ever participated in the inauguration of an Archbishop of York.

The Minster remained full of life for two hours after the service as the entire congregation enjoyed a picnic lunch, queues forming to speak to the new Archbishop and ask him to sign the order of service.