One of the Anglican church’s newest priests is Merimbula’s, Anthony Frost.
Reverend Frost first put roots down in the Sapphire Coast Anglican Parish in February 2016. His theological studies had elevated him to the role of Deacon and a job based out of St Clements Church under Reverend Lou Oakes.
Towards the end of last year, Rev Frost was ready to take on higher orders and was ordained a Priest alongside thirteen of his comrades at St Saviour’s Cathedral in Goulburn.
Moving from Deacon to Priest allows Rev Frost to more fully take part in the key sacraments of the Anglican Church, in particular, holy communion and confession.
Despite the fact that church attendance is falling in Australia, down from 44% in 1950 to 17% in 2007, Rev Frost comes to his new job with a modern sense of purpose.
“We are needed on the ground,” Rev Frost says.
“There is a strong movement [from within the Anglican Chruch] to deploy ordained people into the community.”
This son of a butcher was raised in Newcastle, New South Wales. On the day I met him he proudly displayed the red and blue socks of his hometown’s footy team hidden under his traditional black and white priests ‘uniform’.
Rev Frost turns 50 in the middle of 2017 and comes to this new career with 24 years in early education behind him, having been a classroom teacher in communities around Mount Druitt, Wagga Wagga, and Canberra.
“I believed teaching was my calling,” Rev Frost says.
“It was an area [profession] where men weren’t working and I felt I needed to do my bit to redress that imbalance.”
Reflecting on his early church experiences Rev Frost remembers his ‘Nan’ taking him to church; he was baptised an Anglican even though his parents weren’t churchgoers.
But, “One day she [Nan] was pulled up for smoking outside the church and she never went back,” Rev Frost laughs.
It wasn’t until his late teens, under his own steam, and with his own spiritual needs, that Rev Frost started a journey that saw him take on religious studies and increasing church responsibilities as a layperson into adulthood.
The journey escalated on March 17, 2011 – St Patrick’s Day, at St Mark’s National Theological Centre in Canberra.
“I was listening to a talk on the pioneering days of the Anglican Church in the Canberra – Goulburn Diocese,” Rev Frost remembers.
“Halfway through the talk, I felt two strong but gentle hands underneath my shoulder blades, gently pushing me forward out of my seat.
“At that point, I knew I was being called to ordained ministry,” he says.
Four years of theological studies and part-time church work followed, ahead of his first full-time church gig in the Bega Valley, covering the nine centres of the Sapphire Coast Anglican Parish.
Now as a newly ordained priest, Rev Frost says he is looking to use his theological studies to contextualise the word and work of God for a modern time.
Challenging preconceived ideas about Christian faith, including the Bible, is important to Rev Frost.
“Scripture needs to be reviewed and looked at from different perspectives,” he says.
The twice-married father points to some of the passages of the Old Testament that appear to condone violence and the exclusion of certain people.
“Jesus is with us here today, through the church and people of faith,” Rev Frost says.
“He is guiding us to discern what is of God, what is loving, and what is not.
“We have so many examples around us now of what is not of God.” he says.
Rev Frost suggests the degradation of the environment and the exclusion of people based on religion and lifestyle are two examples of ‘what is not of God’ in 2017.
Click play to hear Rev Anthony Frost speak with Ian Campbell for the About Regional podcast:
With the community celebrations that followed his ordination in late November behind him, Rev Frost says he is getting on with the job of meeting the needs of his community, particularly looking for unmet needs.
Although still relevant, in an affluent town like Merimbula responding to need means something other than the traditional charity work of religious people.
“There can be a different kind of poverty,” Rev Frost explains.
“Where people have a deep need or yearning that’s not being met because of their affluence.
“Often the people who are not so well off in terms of material possessions, are actually more spiritually wealthy than those who are materially wealthy,” Rev Frost says.
As one of the Anglican Church’s newest priests, this Newcastle Knights fan believes he has been blessed by a calling to this wonderful part of the world.
“It’s a little bit of heaven on earth, and I look forward to working with this community and engaging with other organisations and individuals,” Rev Frost says.