Downing Street has announced that the Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani will be the next Bishop of Chelmsford, succeeding the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, who became Archbishop of York earlier this year.
Bishop Guli is currently Bishop of Loughborough in the Diocese of Leicester, a post she has occupied since late 2017.
Speaking about her appointment, Bishop Guli said “It is a great privilege to be appointed as the next Bishop of Chelmsford. I know there are many challenges ahead both in the church and wider society, not least as a result of the pandemic. However, I am hopeful about the future.
“I want to thank my friends and colleagues in Leicester Diocese where I have been very happy. I will be sad to say goodbye, but at the same time I am very excited about this next chapter in my ministry”
Bishop Guli will be introduced to the diocese through a series of videos, online meetings and online worship.
Commenting on the plans for her announcement, Bishop Guli said “This has been the first selection process for a diocesan bishop that has taken place entirely on Zoom and I will continue to be using Zoom today as I am introduced to people across the diocese. However, I’m very much looking forward to visiting Essex and East London in the New Year, to meeting people face to face and discussing how we build on the outstanding work that our churches have done to support their communities during the pandemic.”
Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury said:
Bishop Guli and her family will be in all our prayers as they prepare for this new chapter. It will be a privilege to serve alongside her in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Bishop Guli’s predecessor as Bishop of Chelmsford, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell said
The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Martyn Snow said:
She has renewed our vocations work and helped to support clergy through the demands of the pandemic and lockdown. And alongside all of this, she has contributed extensively to national and international church bodies. 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.”
The Right Reverend Peter Hill, the Bishop of Barking and currently the Acting Bishop of Chelmsford also welcomed Bishop Guli’s appointment: “It is great news for East London and Essex that Bishop Guli will be joining us as our new diocesan bishop in 2021.
I am privileged and excited to welcome her on behalf of the whole Diocese of Chelmsford to this new adventure in ministry and leadership.”
Canon Robert Hammond the Lay Chair of Chelmsford Diocesan Synod commented:
“On behalf of the laity in Essex and East London, I welcome Bishop Guli, Lee and their family to Chelmsford Diocese as our new Bishop. We’re looking forward to working with her to build on the good work already being done in our churches to share the Good News and be involved in social action, supporting the marginalised and addressing injustice across the diocese and beyond.”
The Chair of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC), Rogers Govender said
It is also a diocese that is part of the Greater London area which is significant in itself. CMEAC has called for greater inclusion of BAME clergy and laity in senior leadership roles and we see this is a positive sign. We are aware that there is still much to be done in this area and we look forward to working with Bishop Guli and our Archbishops in supporting BAME candidates into senior leadership within the life of our Church. May God richly bless the Diocese of Chelmsford and Bishop Guli in her new ministry.”
Bishop Guli became the first Bishop of Loughborough, in the Diocese of Leicester, in late 2017.
As well as assisting the Bishop of Leicester in all geographical areas across the Diocese of Leicester, her specific responsibilities include overseeing and supporting the vocations of those called to lay and ordained ministries.
Bishop Guli is currently Vice-President of the Conference of European Churches, Vice Chair of the Board of the Church Army and a contributor to BBC Radio 4s Thought for the Day.
Before she became Bishop of Loughborough, Bishop Guli led Curate Training in the Diocese of Peterborough.
Born in Iran, 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.
She is married to Lee, also a priest and they have three children.
Read more about Bishop Guli’s appointment as the 11th Bishop of Chelmsford at www.chelmsford.anglican.org/our-new-bishop.