The first Bishop of Loughborough consecrated at Canterbury


 

History was made when the Archbishop of Canterbury consecrated the first Bishop of Loughborough, the Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani, at Canterbury Cathedral.

 

Welcoming the congregation to the ordination and consecration service, the Most Revd Justin Welby described it as the “most wonderful, beautiful and exciting day.”

 

Bishop Guli is the first Persian woman to become a Bishop and was ordained and annointed in a moving service which reflected on her early life in Iran. She lived there before and during the Revolution, when her late father was Bishop of Iran and her late brother, Bahram, was killed. Bahram is remembered in the book of Saints and Martyrs at Canterbury Cathedral, close to the spot where his sister was consecrated Bishop.

 

The sermon was given by retired Bishop of Iran, the Rt Revd Iraj Motahedeh, who succeeded her father in that role five years after Bishop Guli’s father had been forced into exile following a miraculous escape from an assassination attempt. Bishop Iraj was then the only Christian priest in Iran for 15 years.

 

During the service, Bishop Guli’s eldest son Gabriel played cello alongside musicians from King’s School, Canterbury, performing Variations on Bahram’s Melody. The original music had been composed by Gabriel’s uncle Bahram for a Persian hymn written by Bahram and Guli’s father.

 

The choir also sang music composed by Gabriel and set to a Persian poem and words from St John’s Gospel. Bishop Guli’s other children, Simeon and Eleanor, helped Gabriel carry the offertory gifts to the Archbishop.

 

Revd Canon Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy,  BAME Enabler for the Diocese of Leicester, read the New Testament reading; Romans 10 v.12-18.

 

As Suffragan Bishop, Guli will now have a full role in the work of the church across Leicester and Leicestershire alongside Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow.

 

In addition, her role will include that of Sponsoring Bishop, overseeing and supporting the vocations of those called to ordained ministry.

 

Bishop Guli’s work will also include encouraging BAME Christians and striving for modern society to be better reflected in the congregations of the Diocese of Leicester.

 

Departing the service, Bishop Guli carried the crozier used by her father as Bishop of Iran and the first President Bishop of the Middle East.

 

A Welcome Service for Bishop Guli will be held at Leicester Cathedral on Saturday 2nd December.