AS AN Oxford graduate, an acoustic guitarist and with personal experience of the pain of divorce, the Rev Sarah Jones had all the credentials to be the perfect priest in the modern-day Church of England.
This week, her parishioners in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, were surprised to learn that her credentials were even stronger than they had suspected.
Ms Jones, 43, has been a woman for just ten years. She was born, baptised as a Roman Catholic, had girlfriends and married, all as Colin Jones.
But years of confusion, followed by a conviction that she should have been born a woman, led to a sex change operation.
The Bishop of Hereford, the Right Rev Anthony Priddis, was aware of her past when he ordained her as deacon last July and appointed her assistant curate of the Ross team ministry. He will have no hesitation in priesting her in September.
Members of the ordained and lay ministry teams were told before her appointment. But other parishioners were informed only on Monday.
Ms Jones left a meeting while the information was relayed to wardens of 14 churches in the area and, when she returned, was greeted with a round of applause. The Hereford Diocese decided to go public after news of Ms Jones’s past was leaked to the press.
Technically, Ms Jones could be ordained a bishop, making her the first woman bishop in the Church of England, because legally she is a man. However, she intends to apply for gender realignment under the Gender Recognition Act, which comes into force in April. That would give her a new birth certificate and make it impossible for her to be elevated into the episcopate until the Church votes to ordain women bishops. [Source]