Portsmouth’s new bishop promises to tackle inequality and champion wellbeing as he meets with city’s youth at Charter Academy

THE city’s new bishop is promising to ‘play his part’ in supporting young and marginalised communities in Portsmouth.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 3:31 pm

Downing Street announced that the Rt Rev Jonathan Frost would succeed the Rt Rev Christopher Foster as the 10th bishop of Portsmouth on Friday morning.

The Rt Rev Frost was unveiled as the new Bishop of Portsmouth at Charter Academy, where the secondary school’s principal, Fiona Chapman, said: ‘We are immensely proud to have the new bishop here, a real sense of pride.

‘He’s absolutely at home with our children.

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Rt Rev Jonathan Frost. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘We look forward to closely working with the diocese. This is just the start of our relationship with the new bishop.’

As the news was announced, the Rt Rev Frost said it was a ‘great privilege’ to be called to become the new bishop of Portsmouth, and to be welcomed at Charter Academy.

He said: ‘I’m thrilled to be here with these fabulous young people.’

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Rt Rev Jonathan Frost talking with the students of Charter Academy. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The bishop was joined by the Rev Jenny Rowley, archdeacon of Portsdown, who said: ‘We’re very excited.

‘We’ve been so blessed by the ministry of Christopher Foster and this is a new and exciting chapter.

‘We’ve had such a warm welcome from Charter Academy.’

Rt Rev Frost talked to students as they conducted a science experiment, identifying the metals in fireworks.

Rt Rev Jonathan Frost doing science experiments with Oren Campbell. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Year 10 pupils Arya Karim and Areen Saeed were among those students who welcomed him to the school.

Arya said: ‘We were given the opportunity to speak to the new bishop and do experiments.’

Areen added: ‘I found this morning to be one of the best days of my childhood life.

‘We reassured the bishop that he is always welcome at our school.’

Rt Rev Jonathan Frost doing science experiments with Oren Campbell. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The bishop says he is particularly keen to address issues affecting young people in the community.

He said: ‘I think of the poor mental health and wellbeing of some of our young people. Eco anxiety is a real thing - we know that so many young people are anxious about the future of the planet, and I want to take my place and play my part with them in addressing climate change and seeking climate justice.

‘As bishop, I want to partner with others in seeking to eradicate the kind of poverty that ruins people’s chances in life.

‘The way I see it, in our society the inequalities are growing wider as the days go on. I want to be part of narrowing the gap and addressing poverty and working with all those of all faiths and none who will seek a good society in which everyone can live well.’

Christine, the bishop’s wife, is also particularly interested in supporting young people.

She was a teacher for 30 years before becoming an integrative child psychologist.

Christine said: ‘We know Portsmouth a little but it’s a real privilege to be moving here.

‘The church community has been really welcoming.

‘It’s fantastic to be starting in this school - these young people are magnificent.’

The Rev Rowley also said that the school was the ideal place to announce the new bishop, and added: ‘It’s really special and really inspiring. I hope it sends a message to Portsmouth of his commitment to the young and marginalised.’

The bishop and his party went from Charter School to visit Carole Damper MBE at the Roberts Centre, which supports children, families, and vulnerable people in the area.

The Rt Rev Frost added: ‘I think the role of the bishop is to encourage prayer - that’s an important part of my life, prayer is an anchor for me in my life. So I want to be sharing what I discover in prayer.

‘For me as bishop, I know that churches across the diocese of Portsmouth, in the city, in the villages and towns, are seeking to put their faith into practice.

‘It’s a down-to-earth faith, and I want to be part of that, joining in with communities, encouraging them to continue their down-to-earth work of care, whether it’s through food banks, making sure that some of our elderly citizens are looked after.

‘I want to play my part in addressing some of the really big questions which face us all.’

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