The Diocese of Portsmouth has bid farewell to Bishop Christopher Forster after 11 years on his leadership.
The 67-year old has retired after serving the diocese for 11 years. His wife Sally is also retiring from her role as a priest within the diocese.
Because of Covid restrictions, a slimmed-down farewell service is taking place at Portsmouth Cathedral with hundreds watching a live stream from home.
They will see the symbolic moment when Bishop Christopher lays his crozier – the shepherd’s crook that signifies his role as leader of his flock – onto the altar at the east end of the cathedral, before processing through the building and leaving by the west doors. From that moment, he is no longer the Bishop of Portsmouth.
Bishop Christopher said: “It has been a privilege to serve as bishop in this diocese for over a decade. Because we are a small diocese with a family feel, our clergy and lay people have been able to collaborate effectively and respond quickly to changing circumstances – as the past year has shown.
“Over the past 10 years, I have seen courage, generosity and resourcefulness as our congregations have faithfully shared God’s love, through prayer, worship and serving others.
“Thank you to all those who have prayed for us and worked alongside us over the past 10 years, in the churches and communities of south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Sally and I will be sorry to leave so many valued friends and colleagues.”
His retirement had been delayed because of the pandemic. His successor is yet to be named but the process has begun and is expected to be announced this summer.