Bishop Frank comes from south of the Tyne and from his ordination in 1980 until becoming Bishop of Brixworth in 2002 he had served all his ordained ministry in the Diocese of Durham. He was a curate in Durham City and Chester-le-Street, was a full time hospital chaplain in Durham and then Vicar of Birtley and a Rural Dean before becoming the first Archdeacon of Sunderland in 1997.
In 2010 he accepted the invitation of the then-Bishop of Newcastle the Right Reverend Martin Wharton to succeed the Right Reverend Paul Richardson as full-time Assistant Bishop of Newcastle.
From November 2014 until December 2015 Bishop Frank fulfilled the role of Acting Bishop of Newcastle following Bishop Martin Wharton’s retirement and until the inauguration of Bishop Christine Hardman as twelfth Bishop of Newcastle.
He is married to Alison, herself a priest and since June 2015 Suffragan Bishop of Hull in the Diocese of York. The Whites are the first and currently the only example of two bishops married to each other in the Church of England.
Sunday’s service has been devised by Canon Clare MacLaren of St Nicholas’ Cathedral: “Bishop Frank was keen for the service to have a strong local flavour, and has included a hymn about St Aidan (written by Dr Hilary Elder) set to a Northumbrian folk tune.
“He’s also asked to include his favourite psalm, Psalm 80, in such a way that the congregation can join in singing it.”
Bishop of Newcastle the Right Reverend Christine Hardman said, “Bishop Frank has given an enormous amount to this Diocese during his time as Assistant Bishop of Newcastle: his godliness, deep sense of prayer, profound pastoral care, and commitment to mission and evangelism have been greatly valued by so many people.
“His concern for those on the margins has shone through in his engagement with prisons and prisoners amongst others. His passion for prayer has been seen at all levels, most recently in his key role in the ‘Prayers on the Move’ initiative. His ecumenical convictions have been lived out deeply, in his work with church leaders and in the setting up of North East Churches Acting Together.
“I have been hugely grateful for Bishop Frank’s care of the Diocese during the episcopal vacancy, the generosity of his welcome to me, and the many ways in which he has enabled the ministry of others to flourish, notably in his work as Warden of Readers and with Self-Supporting ministers.
“He will be greatly missed, but we wish him well in his retirement and as he re-joins Bishop Alison in her continuing work in the East Riding of Yorkshire.”
Former Bishop of Newcastle the Right Reverend Martin Wharton said, “Frank was born and brought up on Tyneside and he only had to say a few words, or a couple of sentences at most, immediately to win over the affection of the people of the diocese.
“He is very much at home in this land of the northern saints and his return to the North East really was a home coming: to his roots, to his extended family and to the people, the culture and the traditions.”
Written by: Miriam Emenike
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