Sue Mann

24th December 2020

Happy New Year!

I hope that, despite Tier 4 restrictions, you were able to experience something of the light of Christ this Christmas. And I am sure that we are all joining together to pray that 2021 will see the light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic which swept across the world in 2020.

One piece of exciting news we received at the end of 2020 was that a new Bishop of Chelmsford has been appointed, Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani.  We look forward to Bishop Guli beginning her ministry amongst us later in the year. Currently serving as the first Bishop of Loughborough, she is married to Lee, a priest in the Church of England, and they have three children, the eldest in his final year at university and twins studying for their GCSEs.

Bishop Guli was born in Iran and moved here in 1980, following the Iranian Revolution and her brother’s resultant murder. Originally with refugee status, she has lived here for 40 years and begun her working life at the BBC World Service Radio before being ordained.

When asked in an interview by Bishop Peter about what sort of Bishop we can expect, Bishop Guli  reflected upon some of the words of St Ignatius: ‘Bishops are best when they are silent…’ By this she was conveying her desire to be a ‘listening’ bishop; a bishop who gathers the stories of the people and who prays for wisdom and compassion as she seeks to respond.

Bishop Peter also asked Bishop Guli what her priorities are. Although she doesn’t come with a grand plan, she expressed 3 broad areas of focus.

  1. For the Church to become more outward facing:
  • to challenge the unjust structures in society and to be prepared to meet Christ in the unexpected places.
  • to become less anxious and to sit light to internal differences and to think and speak well of one another.
  • to become more diverse so that all are welcome and for us all to be open to the possibility of being changed so that, together, we can be transformed by Christ.
  • Commitment to the wellbeing of clergy and lay leaders so that they can cultivate communities where all of God’s people can flourish.
  • Commitment to safeguarding.

In her spare time, Bishop Guli enjoys music, being with family, walking and relaxing with friends. In response to Bishop Peter’s last question about which football team she supports, she correctly answered by saying that whilst she has been a lifelong supporter of Leicester, she looks forward to being a West Ham Supporter!

You can hear this interview and find out some more about Bishop Guli by clicking on the link below.

As we excitedly await the opportunity to meet Bishop Guli, please do pray for her, her husband, Lee, and their children, Gabriel, Eleanor and Simeon  as they prepare for this new chapter in their lives.

With love and prayers,