Peter Forster

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Peter Forster
Bishop of Chester
Official portrait of The Lord Bishop of Chester crop 2.jpg
DioceseDiocese of Chester
In office1996–present
PredecessorMichael Baughen
Other postsVicar of Beverley Minster (1992–1996)
Ordination1980 (deacon); 1981 (priest)
by David Sheppard
Consecration13 November 1996
by David Hope
Personal details
Born (1950-03-16) 16 March 1950 (age 69)
Solihull, West Midlands, United Kingdom
ResidenceBishop's House, Chester
ParentsThomas Forster & Edna Russell
Elisabeth Anne Stevenson (m. 1978)
Alma mater

Peter Robert Forster (born 16 March 1950) is a British Anglican bishop and a Lord Spiritual (member of the House of Lords). He is currently the Bishop of Chester in the Church of England. In April 2019, he announced plans to retire as of 30 September.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Solihull, the son of Thomas Forster by his marriage to Edna Russell,[citation needed] Forster was educated at the town's Tudor Grange Grammar School.[2] He stated in the House of Lords on 8 February 2016 that he had spent his gap year making Land Rover Defenders and was auto-enrolled into the TGWU.[3] He studied at Merton College, Oxford, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in chemistry, promoted to Oxford Master of Arts (MA Oxon) in 1973. At the University of Edinburgh, he graduated as a Bachelor of Divinity (BD) in theology in 1977 and as a Doctor of Philosophy in 1985.[2][citation needed]

Ordained ministry[edit]

He was ordained a deacon at Petertide 1980 (on 29 June)[4] and a priest the next Petertide (12 July 1981), both times by David Sheppard, Bishop of Liverpool, at Liverpool Cathedral.[5] From 1980 to 1982, Forster was assistant curate of the Mossley Hill Parish Church in Liverpool. He was senior tutor at St John's College, Durham, from 1983 to 1991 and became the vicar of Beverley Minster in 1992. In 1996, he was appointed the 40th Bishop of Chester. Forster was consecrated a bishop (alongside John Packer, Bishop of Warrington and later Bishop of Ripon and Leeds) during a service at York Minster,[6] by David Hope, Archbishop of York, on 13 November 1996.[7] He was enthroned on 11 January 1997 and in 2001 took his seat as a Lord Spiritual in the House of Lords.[8]

In 2003, Forster raised controversy when he was investigated by the police for an alleged "hate speech" after suggesting that homosexual people should seek psychiatric treatment.[9] However, no charges were made, and the police were satisfied that no offence had been committed.[10]

He was one of nine bishops who signed a letter disagreeing with the decision of Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, not to block the appointment of Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading in 2003.[11]

In 2009 Forster became a trustee of the newly formed Global Warming Policy Foundation, a controversial organisation based in the United Kingdom which questions policy measures envisaged by governments to mitigate global warming.[12]

In 2012, amid controversy over the amount of expenses claimed by bishops for attending the House of Lords, it was revealed that Forster had claimed more than any other bishop in 2010/11. He had claimed £34,909 and had attended on 97 days.[13]

In March 2019, he called for Parliament to agree to Theresa May's Brexit deal during a debate in the House of Lords.[14]

In March 2019, Forster faced calls to resign following the cover-up of a child sex abuse scandal in the diocese.[15] A priest who had been accused of sex offences decades earlier, wrote about the allegations in a letter to the diocese in 2009. Chester diocese failed to tell police, and allowed him to act as a retired priest for a further five years. The letter came to light during a police investigation in 2017 of a previous Bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey, who has been named in abuse cases as a paedophile. Following a meeting with John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, Forster formally delegated all diocesan safeguarding responsibility to Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead. Sir Roger Singleton CBE, interim director of the Church’s National Safeguarding Team, instigated a Church Disciplinary Measure (CDM) process against Forster, which can result in a tribunal if evidence of malpractice is found. The Church also announced plans for an independent review to identify any lessons that can be learned.[16][17][18][19]

In April 2019, Forster announced that he would retire on 30 September 2019.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Forster married Elisabeth Anne Stevenson in 1978, and they have four children.[2][21] His brother-in-law, Kenneth Stevenson, was also a bishop.[21]



  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Bishop of Chester – The Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster". Diocese of Chester. 24 April 2019. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  3. ^ (8 February 2016). "Report from the House of Lords Debate on the Trade Union Bill".
  4. ^ "Petertide ordinations". Church Times (#6125). 4 July 1980. p. 5. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 6 May 2017 – via UK Press Online archives.
  5. ^ "Petertide ordinations". Church Times (#6177). 3 July 1981. p. 16. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 6 May 2017 – via UK Press Online archives.
  6. ^ "From brown envelope to purple shirt". Church Times (#6980). 22 November 1996. p. 13. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 14 April 2015 – via UK Press Online archives.
  7. ^ Diocese of Chester — Bishops (Accessed 6 May 2017)
  8. ^ House of Lords (14 November 2001). "Announcement of his introduction at the House of Lords". minutes of proceedings. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  9. ^ Alleyne, Richard (10 November 2003). "Bishop's anti-gay comments spark legal investigation". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  10. ^ "No charges for bishop in gay row". BBC News. 9 November 2003. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  11. ^ Michael Nazir-Ali (1 May 2008). "Extremism flourished as UK lost Christianity". Frost's Meditations. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Board of Trustees". Retrieved 24 November 2009.
  13. ^ "Bishop of Chester claims most expenses". Leader Live. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  14. ^ Adam Becket (8 March 2019). "Get on with Brexit, say MPs and peers". Church Times. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Longest serving Church of England bishop faces calls to resign after court hears he knew about paedophile priest". The Telegraph. 13 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  16. ^ "Bishop accused of covering up child sex abuse scandal gives up safeguarding powers". The Telegraph. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  17. ^ "Chester: Bishop Peter Forster delegates safeguarding responsibility after cover-up reports". Chester Standard. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Bishop of Chester hands over safeguarding duties". Premier. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) lodged against Bishop of Chester Peter Forster". Chester Standard. 3 April 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  20. ^ "Bishop Peter announces his retirement". 24 April 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Forster, Peter Robert". Who's Who. 2017 (November 2016 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 10 June 2017. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  • "DodOnline". Archived from the original on 10 October 2006. Retrieved 20 November 2006. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Michael Baughen
Bishop of Chester