Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Next Bishop of Chelmsford announced

17th Dec 2020

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.

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

“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:

“I am delighted that Bishop Guli will be the new Bishop of Chelmsford. Her love for the local church, combined with her international experience and commitment to justice, will be a gift to this diverse and exciting diocese.

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

“It is with great joy that I welcome the appointment of Guli Francis-Dehqani as the next Bishop of Chelmsford. Guli will bring to the exciting diversity of the Chelmsford diocese her breadth of vision, her international experience, her love of the gospel, her pastoral heart, and her passion for justice. East London and Essex have an exciting new bishop.”

The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Martyn Snow said:

“Bishop’s Guli’s contribution to the Diocese of Leicester has been hugely significant. She has championed our work with people of BAME heritage 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. 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.

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. I know too that she has a track record of deep concern for the well-being of the clergy and lay leaders of God’s church.

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:

“Bishop Guli brings an amazing range of gifts and experience to the Diocese; from her first-hand knowledge of being part of a persecuted church in Iran and arriving in the UK as a refugee, her great musicianship, her work with people from all ethnic backgrounds and establishing the role as the first Bishop of Loughborough. 

“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

"On behalf of CMEAC I send warm congratulations to Bishop Guli on her appointment as the next Bishop of Chelmsford. Her appointment is very significant as a BAME appointment to a major See in the Church of England and in one of England’s largest dioceses by geography.

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."

More information 

Guli Francis-Dehqani

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


Bishop Guli has recorded a video message. 


Watch our Welcome Video welcoming Bishop Guli to the Diocese of Chelmsford 


Online Events to mark Bishop Guli’s Announcement

Throughout today, Bishop Guli will be introduced to the diocese through a series of online events, videos and worship.

  • At 3:45pm Bishop Guli will be taking part in an online service hosted by Chelmsford Cathedral. You can watch this on the Chelmsford Cathedral Facebook page.
  • At 7pm we will be broadcasting a conversation between Bishop Peter and Bishop Guli. You can watch this on YouTube and Facebook
  • Throughout the day, Bishop Guli will be taking part in online meetings with a primary school, our refugee projects and a group of curates and lay ministers in training, videos of which will be published on our website here and on our social media channels.


Please share your own welcome message to Bishop Guli on social media using #WelcomeBishopGuli.

Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell

The Most Reverent Stephen Cottrell was the Bishop of Chelmsford between 2010 and 2020. He became the 98th Archbishop of York earlier this year.

Read more about Archbishop Stephen