Guli Francis-Dehqani

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Guli Francis-Dehqani
Bishop of Loughborough
ChurchChurch of England
DioceseDiocese of Leicester
In office2017–present
Other postsDiocesan Adviser for Women's Ministry (2012–2017) and Curate Training Officer (2011–2017), Diocese of Peterborough
Ordination1998 (deacon)
by Tom Butler
1999 (priest)
by Wilfred Wood
Consecration30 November 2017
by Justin Welby
Personal details
Birth nameGulnar Eleanor Dehqani-Tafti
Born1966 (age 51–52)
Isfahan, Isfahan Province, Iran
ParentsHassan Dehqani-Tafti & Margaret Thompson
SpouseLee né Francis
Alma mater

Gulnar Eleanor "Guli" Francis-Dehqani (born 1966) is an Iranian-born British Anglican bishop. She served the Diocese of Peterborough as Curate Training Officer from 2012 to 2017 and Advisor for Women's Ministry from 2013 to 2017. On 11 July 2017, it was announced that she had been appointed the first Bishop of Loughborough, the sole suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Leicester. She was consecrated as bishop on 30 November 2017.

Early life and education[edit]

Guli Dehqani-Tafti was born in Isfahan, Iran in 1966,[1][2] where her father Hassan Dehqani-Tafti lived as Bishop in Iran. When she was 14, her family was forced to leave the country in the wake of the Iranian Revolution;[3] the family settled in Hampshire, where Hassan remained Bishop in exile.[4] She studied music at the University of Nottingham, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1989.[1][5] She studied theology at the University of Bristol, graduating with a Master of Arts (MA) degree in 1994 and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in 1999.[5][1] Her doctoral thesis was titled "Religious feminism in an age of empire: CMS women missionaries in Iran, 1869–1934".[6] From 1995 to 1998, she trained for ordination at the South East Institute of Theological Education.[1]

Ordained ministry[edit]

Francis-Dehqani was ordained in the Church of England as a deacon at Michaelmas (27 September) 1998 by Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, at Southwark Cathedral.[7] She was ordained a priest the following Michaelmas (2 October 1999) by Wilfred Wood, Bishop of Croydon, at All Saints', Kingston-upon-Thames.[8] From 1998 to 2002, she served her curacy at St Mary the Virgin, Mortlake with East Sheen in the Diocese of Southwark.[5][1] Then, from 2002 to 2004, she was a chaplain to the Royal Academy of Music and to St Marylebone C of E School.[5] In 2004, she stepped down from full-time ministry to raise her children.[5] From 2004 to 2011, she held Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Peterborough.[1] She also worked at the University of Northampton Interfaith Chaplaincy between 2009 and 2010 "helping the chaplaincy team develop a more effective multi-faith approach".[9]

In 2011, Francis-Dehqani returned to full-time ministry, having been appointed Curate Training Officer for the Diocese of Peterborough.[5] She was additionally appointed the diocese's Adviser for Women's Ministry in 2012.[1] Since 2013, she has been a Member of the General Synod.[10][9] She was made a honorary canon of Peterborough Cathedral in November 2016.[11]

Episcopal ministry[edit]

On 11 July 2017, it was announced that Francis-Dehqani would become the first Bishop of Loughborough, the suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Leicester.[5] In addition to her suffragan duties, she will also have "a focus on supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) clergy, lay workers and congregations" within the diocese.[10][12] She was consecrated a bishop during a service at Canterbury Cathedral on 30 November 2017.[10][13] This made her the first BAME woman to be made a bishop in the Church of England.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Francis-Dehqani's father Hassan Dehqani-Tafti (1920–2008) was the Anglican Bishop of Iran from 1961 until his retirement in 1990, serving also as President Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, 1976–1986. Her mother Margaret was a daughter of William Thompson (Bishop in Iran, 1935–1960). After the Iranian Revolution, her mother was wounded in an assassination attempt in October 1979,[15][16] and her 24-year-old brother, Bahram, was murdered by Iranian government agents in May 1980.[15]

She is married to Lee Francis-Dehqani, a fellow Anglican priest and canon: at the time of her appointment as bishop he was serving as Team Rector of Oakham and Rural Dean of Rutland. Together they have three children.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Gulnar Eleanor (Guli) Francis-Dehqani". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  2. ^ Cox, Megan (11 July 2017). "First Bishop of Loughborough announced". Loughborough Echo. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  3. ^ Mack, Tom (11 July 2017). "Meet the first ever Bishop of Loughborough - and read her incredible story". Leicester Mercury. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Queen has approved the appointment of the Reverend Canon Gulnar Eleanor Francis-Dehqani to the Suffragan See of Loughborough". GOV.UK. Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street. 11 July 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Religious feminism in an age of empire: CMS women missionaries in Iran, 1869-1934". E-Thesis Online Service. The British Library. 1999. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  7. ^ "Michaelmas ordinations (Archived; subscription only)". Church Times (#7078). 9 October 1998. p. 4. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 13 July 2017. (Subscription required (help)).
  8. ^ "Michaelmas ordinations (Archived; subscription only)". Church Times (#7130). 8 October 1999. p. 19. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 13 July 2017. (Subscription required (help)).
  9. ^ a b "Revd Dr Guli Francis – Dehqani" (pdf). Diocese of Peterborough. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  10. ^ a b c "Persian woman appointed as first Bishop of Loughborough". Diocese of Leicester. 10 July 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Appointments". Church Times. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Iranian-born woman becomes first Bishop of Loughborough". ITV News. 11 July 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  13. ^ "The Bridge" (newspaper of the Anglican Diocese of Southwark) Vol 22 No 10 p3, December 2017
  14. ^ "First Church of England female bishop from a minority ethnic community". Anglican Communion News Service. Anglican Communion Office. 12 July 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  15. ^ a b "The Rt Rev Hassan Dehqani-Tafti, Bishop of Iran who survived an assassination attempt and had to continue his ministry in exile". The Telegraph. 2008-05-05. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
  16. ^ "Unholy War: Assault on Iran's Anglicans". Time Magazine. 1980-05-16. Retrieved 2008-05-11.