Thinking Anglicans

The Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani will be the next Bishop of Chelmsford

Press release from Number 10

Bishop of Chelmsford: 17 December 2020

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Gulnar (Guli) Francis-Dehqani BA MA PhD, Suffragan Bishop of Loughborough, for election as Bishop of Chelmsford.

Published 17 December 2020
From:┬áPrime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Right Reverend Dr Gulnar (Guli) Francis-Dehqani BA MA PhD, Suffragan Bishop of Loughborough, for election as Bishop of Chelmsford, in succession to the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell following his appointment as Archbishop of York.

Background

Guli was born and raised in Iran and her faith was nurtured in the tiny and much persecuted Christian community there. Her father was Bishop in Iran and her brother was murdered subsequent to the Iranian Revolution. He is commemorated in the Chapel of the Modern Martyrs at Canterbury Cathedral. Guli and her family were forced into exile.

Now a UK Citizen, Guli was educated at Nottingham University and Bristol University and trained for ministry at The South East Institute for Theological Education. She served her title at Mortlake with East Sheen, in the Diocese of Southwark and was ordained priest in 1999. She also has a doctorate in theology on cross cultural mission.

In 2002, Guli was appointed Chaplain of the Royal Academy of Music and St Marylebone Church of England School, in the Diocese of London. In 2009, she took up the role of Inter-faith Liaison Research Assistant at the University of Northampton and in 2011 was appointed Curate Training Officer, in the Diocese of Peterborough.

In 2017, Guli took up her current role as Bishop of Loughborough, in the Diocese of Leicester.

She is married to Canon Lee Francis-Dehqani, also ordained, and they have three children, one at university and twins at school.

There is more on the Chelmsford diocesan website.

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Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
1 month ago

Another diocesan with hardly any parish experience other than a curacy in one of the swankiest benefices in south London.

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
1 month ago

Well… I was her immediate predecessor as curate in that parish, so my views may be biased. And life in East Sheen is certainly very pleasant. But it seems to me that this criticism – if that is what it is – is about the lack of parish experience other than a curacy. A reading of Bishop Guli’s Crockford entry and the biography above, mentioning children, would strongly suggest that at the point in a ministerial career when an incumbency might have beckoned, +Guli was on a maternity break. If that is felt to be a correct reading of the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Dominic Barrington
Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

My understanding is that Bishop Guli’s ministry in the Diocese of Leicester (which is my home diocese and the one in which my father was ordained) has been widely appreciated. I don’t know her personally but am quite well acquainted with her husband Lee, who until recently was vicar of Oakham, where my mother has lived for about 25 years now. I will be praying for Bishop Guli and her family as she takes up this new appointment.

Last edited 1 month ago by Tim Chesterton
Kate
Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

I don’t know anything about Guli but I don’t think much (if any) parish experience is necessary for a Diocesan bishop. Also, her husband is ordained so she will have additional vicarious experience of his ministry as a further supplement.
 
(Sorry, reply to Dean, not Tim)

Last edited 1 month ago by Kate
Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
1 month ago

I was highlighting both issues Dominic. I would be the first to support a parent taking time out of their career to bring up children but I’m not sure why that should give them a pass to what I consider a crucial aspect of ministry in the CofE, and what ought to be important grounding for becoming a bishop. My ministry was in Surrey and Bedfordshire though not perhaps in the most glamorous parts of those counties, but I loved parish ministry and found it hugely rewarding and had no interest in the greasy pole. Which is just as well… Read more »

Clare Amos
1 month ago

I know Bp Guli personally – and yes, you are correct that she took a maternity break for several years – I seem to remember that she felt it even more necessary after the daunting arrival of her twins. She is of course also married to a priest and the decision that she and her husband took that for a number of years his ministry should take priority also limited her choices. That is also part of the reality for many women. After their move to Oakham a further priority for her was caring for her elderly mother for a… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
1 month ago
Reply to  Clare Amos

It’s difficult to think of any other profession where one could reach the top of the organisation without on the ground experience: medicine, teaching, the civil service, the judiciary, nursing, policing to name but a few. Bishop Guli is not unusual in having family responsibilities, and they have traditionally fallen more heavily upon women though male carers are hardly unheard of, but I wouldn’t expect my anaesthetist to have been excused part of her clinical experience just because she had taken a career break for family reasons. If my niece goes into the armed forces I would expect her commanding… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
1 month ago

God be Praised! What a wonderful appointment, signalling the ‘New and Living Way’ of radical inclusion in the Church of England! For the daughter of an Iranian Bishop to be appointed to Chelmsford seems an enormous step forward from the ‘Old Boys’ Network’ that was once de-rigeur in the English episcopate. Blessings from ACANZP.

Last edited 1 month ago by Father Ron Smith
Toby Forward
Toby Forward
1 month ago

‘Child of bishop becomes bishop’ is a step forward from the ‘Old Boy’s Network’, eh? Apart from the gender difference, which most of us have stopped noticing, how does that work?

David Lamming
David Lamming
1 month ago
Reply to  Toby Forward

Reply to Toby: So, for you, being the child of a bishop disqualifies a person from being appointed a bishop whatever his or her qualifications/gifts/experience and regardless of the process by which he or she is chosen? That is just as unacceptable as would be appointment on the basis of what you call the Old Boys Network (OBY). In fact, the CNC process of discernment (of which I have some experience) is far from being an OBY. I rejoice at Guli’s appointment and wish her every blessing. (The only wry comment I would add is that, until ++Stephen Cottrell broke… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lamming

 So, for you, being the child of a bishop disqualifies a person from being appointed a bishop whatever his or her qualifications/gifts/experience and regardless of the process by which he or she is chosen?’
Why did you make that up?
It’s a poor debater who has to put words into his opponent’s mouth. I’m happy for the Holy Spirit to choose anyone, but bishop sires bishop is not an escape from the Old Boy Network.

Father Ron Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Toby Forward

Please note, Toby. This is the Daughter of a bishop; not a Son!. Also, Christian clergy in Iran do not have an easy time in ministry there – not privileged!

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
1 month ago

Apart from the gender difference, which most of us have stopped noticing, how does that work?’

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
1 month ago
Reply to  Toby Forward

You may have stopped noticing gender differences, but women are still under represented among senior clergy. Clergy from minority ethnic backgrounds, and those with experience of the persecuted church, are even scarcer.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
1 month ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

I have never denied that, but none of that is relevant to my point, which is that appointing the child of a bishop to a bishopric  doesn’t break the mould. This will be my last comment on the subject, but I’d like to add some words from the ever-perceptive Anthony Trollope, which don’t seem out of place here. ‘It is certainly of service to a man to know who were his grandfathers and who were his grandmothers if he entertain an ambition to move in the upper circles of society, and also of service to be able to speak of them… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
1 month ago
Reply to  Toby Forward

There are more ways of breaking the mould than following in the footsteps of your parents.

Father David
1 month ago

Bishop Guli is not only the daughter of a bishop but also the granddaughter of a bishop – Bishop Thompson of Iran.
It is good to see that the current Bishop of Loughborough wears her pectoral cross in the correct position – unlike so.many of her male episcopal colleagues who wear theirs on expanding corporations or hidden inside lounge jacket pockets.

Ann Reddecliffe
1 month ago

Another glass ceiling broken. She is the first BAME woman ever to become a diocesan bishop.
She will be sorely missed here in Leicester, where she was the first ever bishop of Loughborough. The fact that she comes from a very different background from the rest of the House of Bishops is a chance for a breath of fresh air. An excellent appointment.

Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

‘She is the first BAME woman ever to become a diocesan bishop.’

In England.

Tim Chesterton
1 month ago

Ann, I was born in Leicester and my father was ordained in Leicester Cathedral in 1965. I’ve enjoyed following Bishop Guli’s doings on Twitter and Facebook since she became Bishop Of Loughborough. I especially enjoyed watching the Global Carol Service she led last Christmas.

Andrew Godsall
Andrew Godsall
1 month ago

I am so delighted to see a former BBC Radio Studio Manager and Producer of Religious Programmes appointed in this way. Every good wish Guli. The people of Chelmsford are very fortunate.

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