Challenges ahead, but next Bishop of Chelmsford 'hopeful' about future

Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, the next Bishop of Chelmsford, standing outside with arms crossed and buildings in...

Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani has been appointed as the next Bishop of Chelmsford - Credit: Diocese of Chelmsford

The new Bishop of Chelmsford says “many challenges” lie ahead for the church and society, but she is hopeful about the future. 

The Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani has been appointed to lead the Diocese of Chelmsford, which comprises Essex and parts of east London including Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham and Redbridge. 

She will succeed the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, who became Archbishop of York earlier this year. 

Bishop Guli, who has been Bishop of Loughborough in the Diocese of Leicester since late 2017, said it is a great privilege to be appointed to the Chelmsford post. 

“I know there are many challenges ahead both in the church and wider society, not least as a result of the pandemic,” she said. 

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“However, I am hopeful about the future.  

“As Christian communities, I believe our task is to be faithful; to share the good news of Jesus Christ and to continue serving the world; to work well together and in partnership with others. 

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“In doing this, we’ll discover the extent of God’s love.” 

Bishop Guli will be introduced to the diocese through a series of videos, virtual meetings and online worship. 

She added: “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.”  

Born in Iran, Bishop Guli and her family left the country when she was 13 in the wake of the revolution in 1980, and she has been unable to return since. 

She is vice-president of the Conference of European Churches, vice chair of the Board of the Church Army and a contributor to BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day.  

Archbishops and bishops have commended her love for the local church and the gospel, international experience and commitment to justice, as well as her musicianship and work with people from BAME backgrounds.

The Right Reverend Peter Hill, who is the Bishop of Barking and currently the Acting Bishop of Chelmsford, said: “Guli brings with her a passion to be outward looking in sharing the good news of Jesus, in serving our communities and caring for those in need.”

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