Downing Street has announced that the new Bishop of Portsmouth will be the Right Reverend Jonathan Frost, who is currently the Dean of York.
The announcement from 10 Downing Street this morning (Friday) confirmed that Her Majesty The Queen had approved the appointment of Bishop Jonathan as tenth Bishop of Portsmouth, succeeding Rt Rev Christopher Foster, who retired in May.
Bishop Jonathan will lead the Church of England Diocese of Portsmouth, which covers 133 parishes in South East Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. His current role sees him lead the historic York Minster, where he has served since February 2019.
He was unveiled as the new Bishop of Portsmouth this morning at Charter Academy, the only Church of England secondary school in the diocese on the continent. He joined students in a science lab, as part of his desire to begin his new role by engaging with young people living in the diocese.
Later that day he is to meet with faithful in three different parts of the diocese: at Portsmouth Cathedral, Newport Minster and St Peter’s Church, Petersfield. In all 3 places, he will ask others to pray for him.
He is also due to visit St Mary’s Church, Brading, on the Isle of Wight, where worshipers have put environmental concerns high on their agenda. He will see the ethical and environmental shop they created in their parish hall, as well as the goats and pigs they care for on a small farm next to the cemetery, to underline their commitment to the fight against climate change.
He is also due to visit Carole Damper MBE, at the Roberts Center in Portsmouth, who supports children, families and vulnerable people in Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant. It was established in 1987 and the Landport center was built from a bequest left to a former Bishop of Portsmouth to fight poverty.
Bishop Jonathan has also requested a private meeting with HMP Isle of Wight staff on the day he is announced as the new bishop, as part of his commitment to understanding justice and imprisonment issues.
Bishop Jonathan said:
“I believe the role of a bishop is to pray, to share the story and love of Jesus, and to stand up for marginalized and voiceless people.
“I have Portsmouth on my heart. Many people in this diocese have gone through a difficult time during the pandemic, especially the most vulnerable, and I know that Christians here have played their part with others to support those in need.
“I look forward to working in partnership as together we tackle the biggest issues we face today, such as the poor mental health and well-being of many of our young people; climate change; and the scandal of poverty, which limits opportunities and chances to live.
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“I am, of course, sad to be leaving York Minster and precious colleagues there. It is a real privilege to be called to the work God is doing in South East Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Reverend Justin Welby, said:
“I am very happy that Bishop Jonathan has accepted this invitation to become the next Bishop of Portsmouth.
“His wide range of interests and experiences, from youth engagement and interfaith relations to social justice and community building, will be invaluable in bringing the people of Portsmouth together as he begins this new role. Please join me in praying for him and his wife Christine as they take the next step in their journey as disciples of Jesus.
And the Archbishop of York, Bishop Stephen Cottrell, said:
“Jonathan Frost has been an exceptional Dean of York. He is a leader who knows how to be led, a man of prayer and a servant of the gospel.
“He led York Minster very successfully through tough and difficult times. But it also allowed her to focus on her primary vocation as a place of prayer and a mission center. Although we are very sad to see him go, we are delighted that he has been called to use his tremendous gifts of leadership, ministry and missionary effort as the next Bishop of Portsmouth.
Bishop Jonathan was educated at Aberdeen and Nottingham Universities and prepared for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. He served his parish at St Giles’ West Bridgford, Nottingham. Jonathan was ordained a priest in 1994 and, alongside his parish duties, he served as police chaplain.
From 1997 to 2002 Jonathan was rector of Ash in the Diocese of Guildford. In 2002 he accepted a new joint post of Anglican Chaplain at the University of Surrey and Resident Canon at Guildford Cathedral. For 11 years, Jonathan taught Christian doctrine as part of the local diocesan ministry course. He was counselor to the bishop for interfaith relations and at the General Synod. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Surrey in 2012.
Jonathan served as Suffragan Bishop of Southampton in the Diocese of Winchester from November 2010 to January 2019. During these years Jonathan chaired the Portsmouth and Winchester Joint Diocesan Board of Education and became Honorary Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Portsmouth.
He was installed as Dean of York in February 2019. His priorities include Benedictine prayer and spirituality, evangelism, discipleship, and working alongside others to tackle the scandal of poverty.
Jonathan is married to Christine, an integrative child psychotherapist. They have 3 adult children. He supports the Fulham Football Club. He enjoys live jazz, the Taizé community, wheelchair sport and walking.
As various legal formalities must take place before Bishop Jonathan can take up his new post, his installation service in Portsmouth Cathedral is not expected until the New Year. Until then, he intends to visit the Diocese of Portsmouth regularly as he begins to get to know the area and its people.