Portsmouth bishop strengthens links with Ghana

The Bishop of Portsmouth flew out to Ghana on Friday to build closer relationships with the Anglican churches there.

The Right Reverend Christopher Foster will be in Ghana until 1 May for his second trip to the country in two years.

In 2011, he spent 10 days visiting six of Ghana's 10 dioceses. He promised to return in the future and visit the other four dioceses.

The bishop will be joined by his wife, the Reverend Sally Davenport, vicar of Holy Trinity and St Columba, Fareham.

Also making the visit is Portsmouth diocesan spirituality adviser, the Reverend Dr Ruth Tuschling, and chairman of the Inter-Diocesan West Africa Link (IDWAL), Canon Terry Louden.

The centrepiece of his trip will be a three-day clergy dchool at the Nkawie Retreat Centre in the Diocese of Kumasi.

The retreat centre was opened with the help of donations from Christians across the Diocese of Portsmouth and Bishop Foster was present at its consecration during his last visit.

The three-day gathering will focus on what clergy can learn from different Christian spiritual traditions.

Another highlight of the trip is a visit to the College of Health in Kintampo, where hundreds of new community mental health workers are being trained with the support of the Kintampo Trust, a charity established by NHS mental health professionals in Hampshire.  The college has increased the number of trained mental health workers by 17 per cent since 2011.

The bishop will preach at Christ Church Cathedral in Cape Coast Diocese, and visit the Dioceses of Tamale, Koforidua and Dunkwa.

"This trip will be a great opportunity to build on the strong relationships developed over many years of this link with the dioceses in Ghana," he said.

"I experienced vitality of faith and witness during our last visit, and my colleagues and I are looking forward to meeting new friends and making new connections."

Dr Mark Roberts, the UK lead for the Kintampo Project, and a Fareham-based NHS psychiatrist said: "We welcome the bishop's work in Ghana to gain an understanding of mental health from the perspective of the Ghanaian clergy.

"Forging strong relationships between health workers and the clergy is key to reaching and supporting people with mental illness, and the Portsmouth delegation's work will be a big step towards achieving this."