Belfast Telegraph

Church must aim to break down divisions, declares new Bishop

Excitement: Bishop Andrew Forster
Excitement: Bishop Andrew Forster
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

The Church's role in today's secular society is to offer hope for the future, the newly ordained Bishop of Derry and Raphoe has said.

Church of Ireland Bishop Andrew Forster, who was ordained to his new role at a service of consecration in St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, succeeds Rt Rev Ken Good, who retired from episcopal ministry in May. Among the congregation were members of his former parish of Drumglass and many people from the Diocese of Derry and Donegal, including the Catholic bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown.

Bishop Forster, who has been in ministry for almost 30 years, is married to Heather and the couple have three children - Hannah, Patrick and Megan.

He admitted his over-riding feeling when he was told of his new appointment was fear, but said that had turned to excitement. "One of the biggest emotions for me when I knew I was being appointed was one of fear, knowing this was a huge responsibility and change for me as well.

"Interestingly, shortly after my election, I met Bishop Donal McKeown and Rev Richard Johnston from the Methodist Church in Derry and I said to Bishop Donal that I felt very fearful.

"He said to me the most popular verse in the bible is 'be not afraid' and that has stayed with me ever since. I have nerves but I know God is with us every step of the way, but the fear has changed to excitement over the past few weeks."

During his time as a minister, the new bishop served in Willowfield Parish in Belfast before taking up a position as chaplain at Queen's University. He also served as Incumbent of Drumcliffe in Co Sligo and most recently spent many years as Rector of Drumglass in Co Tyrone.

Bishop Forster said he wants to use his new position to help break down divisions.

He explained: "One of the important things for the Church today and into the future is that we build relationships with the whole family of God across denominations. Unfortunately we live with a legacy of division in our country.

"I hope and pray that for us as a Church and for me in my role as a bishop, that I can do something that breaks down division and builds on that legacy that has been so strong in this diocese."

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