Diocese of Chelmsford
Welcome from Rt Rev Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford
I am writing this soon after the announcement that I will become the next Bishop of Chelmsford.
The working relationship between the Bishop and the Chief Executive is crucial for effective leadership in the diocese. I am delighted I can be fully involved in this recruitment process and look forward to beginning my ministry as Bishop of Chelmsford in partnership with a new Chief Executive.
I am looking for a loyal colleague who can work collaboratively with me and provide support, encouragement, wisdom and challenge within the senior leadership team of the diocese.
I am discovering, that despite all the challenges of the past year, the Diocese of Chelmsford is in good heart and has an excellent senior team in place. You will be joining other committed, professional people who enjoy each other’s company and who can laugh together as well as take tough decisions.
Make no mistake, this is a demanding role with a huge diversity of responsibilities. But the opportunity to make a real contribution to the mission of the Church of England in East London and Essex is unparalleled. Our Interim Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officers expect to remain in post in order to give as smooth a start as possible so that together we can begin to discern the priorities for the next chapter of diocesan life.
I hope you will be encouraged to enter the selection process as we prayerfully identify the right person for this vital role.
With my prayers and good wishes
Rt Rev Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford
The Rt Rev Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani has been appointed to be the next Bishop of Chelmsford. She will be taking up her role from Easter and will lead the recruitment process for our next Chief Executive and Diocesan Secretary.
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."
Chelmsford is a huge diocese. It includes five major London boroughs, as well as the whole of Essex and its two unitary authorities, and even a small part of Cambridgeshire. Each of the three episcopal areas is big enough to be a diocese in its own right. Colchester has more churches than the whole of the Diocese of Birmingham, Guildford or Bristol, Bradwell has a greater population than the Diocese of Salisbury, and the Barking Area’s population is twice as big as that of many dioceses.
From Canning Town to Clacton, Harlow to Harwich, and Stratford to Saffron Walden, East London and Essex has everything. This extraordinarily vibrant and wonderfully diverse diocese is home to over 3 million people representing almost all socioeconomic, ethnic and faith groups and a fantastic variety of cultures and traditions. As a relatively young diocese, Chelmsford has few historic resources and has been more dependent than most on national funding which was £3.1m in 2016 but will have all but disappeared by 2026. It is no secret that, for that reason, we are having to tackle our finances head-on. COVID-19 and the economic and social upheaval that it has precipitated have only accelerated the major cultural shift in the Diocese of Chelmsford which started some time ago with the launch of the Transforming Presence initiative. Under that initiative, we aspire to be a transforming presence in every community, open and welcoming to everyone and living out God’s love for all people.
Transforming Presence presents four main priorities for the diocese:
• Inhabiting the world distinctively
• Evangelising effectively
• Serving with accountability, and
• Re-imagining ministry
The fruit of that has included: A big rise in the number of vocations to both lay and ordained ministry The creation of three additional archdeaconries at no net cost, so that archdeacons have greater capacity, freeing the area bishops to be leaders of mission An increased emphasis on lay training and pioneer ministry A drive to plant 101 New Christian Communities, some of which are supported by the Strategic Development Fund of the national church, and The creation of mutually supportive Mission and Ministry Units across the diocese, making better use of stipendiary clergy as leaders of multi-disciplinary teams.
Many of these priorities continue to be relevant but will need to be re-articulated as we emerge from the challenges of the Covid pandemic. This is a major responsibility for both the new bishop and Chief Executive.
"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."
Rt Rev Guli Francis-Dehqani, Bishop of Chelmsford