Picture: Bishop Guli formally takes her seat as Bishop of Chelmsford on Saturday 4 September 2021
The Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani formally took her seat as The Bishop of Chelmsford in Chelmsford Cathedral at a service on Saturday 4 September.
Being placed in the Bishop’s seat is a highly symbolic moment and marked the beginning of Bishop Guli’s public ministry in the Diocese.
10 Downing Street announced Bishop Guli’s appointment as Bishop of Chelmsford on 17 December last year and she started in the role on 19 April this year.
Speaking ahead of her seating at the Cathedral, Bishop Guli said:
“Since I started my ministry as Bishop of Chelmsford, I have enjoyed meeting with and beginning to get to know people across this diverse and exciting diocese. I have been hugely encouraged by the wonderful work that is taking place in our churches, serving God and our local communities through challenging times. Taking the Bishop’s Seat at Chelmsford Cathedral will mark the start of my public ministry as Bishop of Chelmsford and I look forward to joining others across Essex and East London in a new chapter in the life of our diocese.”
The service was led by the Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Reverend Nicholas Henshall. Looking ahead to the service, he said:
“The seating of a new Diocesan Bishop at the Cathedral is a highly symbolic moment, but Saturday’s service will also give us the opportunity to formally welcome Bishop Guli as our new Bishop. I look forward to working with her to serve God and the communities of East London and Essex.”
The service featured a choir anthem by James Davy setting words by Bishop Guli’s father, the Rt Revd Hassan Barnaba Dehqani-Tafti (1920 – 2008) who was the Anglican Bishop in Iran from 1961 until his retirement in 1990. Bishop Hassan spent the final 10 years of his ministry in exile in the UK following the Iranian Revolution and an assassination attempt in 1979. In May 1980, Bishop Hassan’s son and Bishop Guli’s brother, Bahram, was murdered by extremists. During the anthem, Bishop Guli’s son, Gabriel Francis-Dehqani,accompanied the choir on cello.
The Essex Association of Change ringers organised bell ringing at churches across Essex and East London shortly before the service in order to mark the occasion.
Ahead of the service Bishop Guli undertook a four day pilgrimage across the diocese, visiting each archdeaconry to walk with and meet people from our church communities.
The service was streamed on the Chelmsford Cathedral YouTube channel so that people could watch and join the celebration online. A recording can be watched below:
The start of Bishop Guli's ministry as Bishop of Chelmsford
After completing her ministry as Bishop of Loughborough, Bishop Guli started her ministry in Chelmsford Diocese on 19 April 2021. In an email to church leaders she explained her plans and priorities for the start of her ministry:
19 April 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters
It is a great privilege to write to you today, on the first day of my ministry as Bishop of Chelmsford. I want to start by thanking you again for the warm welcome I’ve received since my appointment in December. In particular, I want to thank Bishop Peter and members of the Bishop’s Staff Team who have done so much to help me prepare for today and the months ahead.
I mentioned in my Ad Clerum last month that my ministry will start in two distinct stages. Today I want to share some more detail about my plans for the coming months.
My priorities for the first stage will be to meet with people, to listen, learn and develop a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. At the start of this stage, I will work from Loughborough whilst our two youngest children finish their GCSE year at school. However, I will visit the Diocese from time to time as the situation allows. Indeed, I am particularly looking forward to joining in some of the activities from the Cathedral as part of this year’s Thy Kingdom Come, the season from Ascension to Pentecost, 13 May to 23 May. During these 10 days we will wait on God in prayer and stillness – a time of renewal in our commitment to our shared mission and a time to pray for the life of our diocese.
In mid-July, I will move into Bishopscourt with my husband Lee and our children. I’m delighted to confirm that the service of Welcome and Installation marking the start of my public ministry will take place on 4 September. This is a highly symbolic moment when I am formally placed in the Bishop’s seat in the east end of the Cathedral, the sign of the Bishop’s ministry of service and teaching. The service will also mark the start of the second stage of my ministry as Bishop of Chelmsford. From this time, I will start to lead worship, visit churches and worshipping communities and become more rooted and visible in the life of the Diocese. There will be further information about the service in the coming weeks.
I have said before that I have no doubt about the scale of the challenges we face, but as I look to the future, I do so with great faith and a tremendous sense of hopefulness that comes in no small part from the people I have met with since December and the stories I’ve heard about our churches and worshipping communities and their service during this most difficult of times. I look forward to meeting you all in the months ahead as we begin our ministry together.
Yours in Christ
Bishop Guli's Appointment as Bishop of Chelmsford
10 Downing Street announced Bishop Guli's appointment as Bishop of Chelmsford on 17 December 2020.
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
Introducing Bishop Guli
Bishop Guli recorded a special introductory video for our Diocese that was published on the day of her announcement as the next Bishop of Chelmsford.
Welcome video to our new Bishop
People from around the Diocese of Chelmsford created a special welcome video for our new Bishop.
Online Events to mark Bishop Guli’s Announcement
On 17 December, 2020, Bishop Guli was welcomed to Essex and East London through a series of online events
Meeting with St Mary's Prittlewell C of E primary school
Bishop Guli met with pupils and teachers of St Mary's Prittlewell C of E Primary school
An online service at Chelmsford Cathedral
Bishop Guli attended an online service at Chelmsford Cathedral hosted by Dean of Chelmsford, The Very Rev Nicholas Henshall.
In Conversation with Bishop Guli
Hosted by Bishop Peter
Please share your own welcome message to Bishop Guli on social media using #WelcomeBishopGuli