Bishop Guli to be the next Bishop of Chelmsford

Downing Street has announced that Bishop Guli, currently the Church of England Bishop of Loughborough, is to be the next Bishop of Chelmsford.

You can read the detail here.

Appointed the first Bishop of Loughborough three years ago, the Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani became the first Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Leicester, assisting Bishop Martyn in his work in all geographical areas across Leicester and Leicestershire.

Bishop Martyn said: “Bishop’s Guli’s contribution to the Diocese of Leicester has been hugely significant. She has championed our work with BAME heritage people and grown our links with a number of partner organisations. She has renewed our vocations work and helped to support clergy through the demands of the pandemic and lockdown. I give thanks to God for her ministry among us and assure her of prayers as she prepares to take up this new and demanding role. She and her family will be a wonderful gift to the Diocese of Chelmsford.”

It is expected that Bishop Guli will take up her Chelmsford role in the spring.

Bishop Guli’s husband, Revd Canon Lee Francis-Dehqani, will continue in his role as Priest-in-Charge of the Fosse Team until the summer. A special leaving service will be organised to bid farewell to Bishop Guli in the spring. Details will be published in the new year. 

Bishop Guli has had several specific areas of responsibility including overseeing the work in the diocese to help enable people of diverse cultural backgrounds and heritage to fully participate and take up leadership and ministry roles within our churches and fresh expressions. Efforts continue in this area, boosted by the recent award of a significant SDF grant to develop Intercultural Worshipping Communities in the diocese and help all our churches, fresh expressions of Church, schools and chaplaincies to extend and deepen their work. 

Bishop Guli has also been ‘Sponsoring Bishop’, overseeing and supporting the vocations of those called to ordained and lay ministries in the Diocese of Leicester. She also leads in the area of Wellbeing amongst leaders of Anglican churches in the diocese and has overseen the development of a more coordinated counselling service.

Bishop Guli is also Chair of Trustees of the diocesan retreat house Launde Abbey, which recently celebrated its 900th year as a house of prayer. She is also Patron of One Roof homelessness charity.

A contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, Bishop Guli shared her latest reflections just this morning (17 Dec 2020) and also gave one of the Lent Talks in a Radio 4 series in spring 2020. 

Bishop Guli herself had begun a Lent pilgrimage called ‘Salt of the Earth’ when the pandemic lockdown began in March. She had been part-way through visiting churches and community social action projects across the diocese. She enjoyed learning and join in activities which expressed local Christians’ Everyday Faith in action as well as praying with and for those communities. 

Prior to her arrival in our diocese after her consecration at Canterbury Cathedral in 2017, Bishop Guli had led Curate Training in the Diocese of Peterborough. She was also Adviser for Women’s Ministry, an Honorary Canon of Peterborough Cathedral, and a member of the Church of England’s governing body, General Synod.

Born in Iran, Bishop Guli’s family left the country in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1980, when she was 13 years old, and to date she has been unable to return.

Bishop Guli’s family was forced to leave the country in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1980 when she was 14 years old.

You can hear and read more about Bishop Guli’s background and faith in an interview she did just after she had led a service to launch the first bilingual Persian language version of the Church of England’s Common Worship Holy Communion liturgy (see info here). Hundreds of Iranians from churches around England attended the launch at Wakefield Cathedral (find out more by clicking here.

As a current Vice-President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), Bishop Guli has a close working relationship with the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME). In March last year she hosted a visit to Leicester of the CEC presidency on what was originally expected to be BREXIT day (29 March 2019). See more by clicking here.

Bishop Guli will be participating in the national Church of England’s weekly online church service on Sunday 27th December 2020 which will focus on the Church Army.

Reflecting on her three years here, Bishop Guli said: “I have very fond memories of the warmth with which I was welcomed into the diocese and the goodwill shown towards me. People have been very generous and patient as I’ve grown into the role. I’m aware that while I’m excited to start a new ministry in Chelmsford I will be sad to leave Leicester where I’ve been very happy.”

“Doing confirmations and ordinations has been a real highlight. Everyone is special and it’s the most wonderful privilege to do these services. I’ve also enjoyed my work with curates and ordinands, alongside Diocesan Director of Ordinands Paul Rattigan and Head of Learning and Ministry Development Rob Hay. It’s always a privilege to be alongside those in the early stages of their ministry.

“Developing mission and ministry for people of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic heritage and seeing our Intercultural Worshipping Communities begin, alongside BAME Enabler Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy and others has felt important and worthwhile. Particular highlights have been Global Carol Services and the World in a Diocese Day.

Pilgrimage sadly ended early because of the first lock down but I loved getting out and about, seeing what our churches are doing more widely in the community, living out their Everyday Faith in action and sharing in partnership with others. It was inspiring and brought me much joy.

“Being Chair of Trustees at Launde has also been a joy and a privilege, despite the challenges now faced because of Covid-19. The Trustees are a wonderful and committed group who have an enormous amount of wisdom and experience between them.

“The recent appointment of Anissa Chung as Counselling Coordinator to develop our existing services feels like an important achievement and one which I hope will make a difference to clergy and lay leaders serving in all our church settings.”

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