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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 15:42 GMT
Sex change vicar returns to parish
Rev Carol Stone
Reverend Carol Stone said she had received great support from parishioners
The first serving Church of England vicar to undergo a sex change operation will return to parish duties at the weekend.

Parishioners at St Philip's Church in Upper Stratton, Swindon, Wiltshire have known Reverend Peter Stone for four years but on Sunday they will attend the first service of Rev Carol Stone.

Rev Peter Stone
Rev Peter Stone prior to operation
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Rev Stone, 46, spoke of her relief at having the undergone operation to become a woman.

She had received support from both her family and colleagues but admitted her decision to have the operation was bound to raise questions in some quarters.

Dressed in a blue skirt suit with black high heels, a white top and a patterned silk scarf, she said: "I only have two vocations in my whole life - they are to be a priest and to be a woman.

"My last prayer at night was that I'd wake up a girl. My first reaction after it all was `Thank goodness'.

"Before, there was a deep pool of suffering and sadness but now I feel that whole period of my life is finished with."


"I only have two vocations...to be a priest and to be a woman

Rev Carol Stone
After Rev Stone announced the decision to go ahead with the operation in June, the Bishop of Bristol, the Right Reverend Barry Rogerson, said there was no ethical or ecclesiastical reason why the priest should not continue ministry.

Twice-divorced Rev Stone, who has a teenage daughter, said: "My agenda now is to return to ministry and serve the people of Stratton.

"Nobody goes into this radical change of lifestyle and surgery lightly."

Rev Stone would not say whether she was in a relationship at the moment but said she had already had a series of photographs taken for a new passport and driving licence.

'I've never blamed God'

She said: "Something like this is bound to cause a difference in response from people. There will be those who find it unacceptable.

"I've never blamed God but I always hoped that something might happen to make a difference.

"As a priest you always have to be prepared for people to come and go.

"There will obviously be those people who won't come with me and they will be sorely missed but there will always be a place for them at St Philip's."

Rev Carol Stone
Parishioners will meet 'new' vicar at the weekend
Rev Peter Stone was ordained in 1978 and served at Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire.

He was chaplain and head of religious studies at Dauntsey's School, West Lavington, before taking up the post at Upper Stratton in 1996.

A regular contributor to radio, he received a National Broadcasting Award from the Sandford St Martin Trust in 1979.

See also:

19 Jun 00 | UK
14 Aug 00 | Europe
04 Nov 99 | Education
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