Ann Holmes Redding Update: This bishop, unlike another in the initial story, doesn’t seem to “find the interfaith possibilities exciting.”
“Episcopal priest given ultimatum,” by Janet I. Tu for the Seattle Times, October 10:
There are moments these days when the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding sits outside a church or a Muslim gathering, wondering if she will be welcome at either.
It didn’t use to be this way. But now, six months away from what is almost certain to be her defrocking, the Episcopal priest who announced last year that she had also become a Muslim remains steadfast in her belief that she was called to both faiths but says her decision to follow that call has been exceedingly painful at times.
In a letter mailed last week to national and local church leaders, Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, who has disciplinary authority over the Seattle priest, said a church committee had determined that Redding “abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church by formal admission into a religious body not in communion with the Episcopal Church.”
Wolf has affirmed that determination, barring Redding from functioning as a priest for the next six months.
According to church law, unless Redding resigns her priesthood or denies being a Muslim during those six months, the bishop has a duty to defrock “” or depose “” her, as the process is formally known.
Redding, who served as director of faith formation at Seattle’s St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, said she has no plans to resign or to renounce Islam, any more than she would renounce Christianity. She does not believe she has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.
“I’m saddened and disappointed that this could not be an opportunity” for the church to broaden its perspective and talk about what it means to adhere to more than one faith, Redding said.
“The automatic assumption is that if I’m one of ‘them,’ I can’t be one of ‘us’ anymore.” But “I’m still following Jesus in being a Muslim. I have not abandoned that.”
But Allah has no son.
Redding has been a priest for nearly 25 years.
While she does not regret going public about her embrace of Islam, she does acknowledge being naive about the controversy her announcement would stir up.
“I can definitely be a Pollyanna,” she said. “It never occurred to me it was something to be in the closet about. I just thought it was great.”
Getting to know Islam was “like falling in love,” she said. “You want to share it, you want to get on a rooftop and start shouting.” […]
Redding says she understands why people might be upset that a priest would also profess another faith, given that a priest represents the church. But she firmly believes she did not break her ordination vows. […]
Nicene Creed? Meh. Details.
Her one regret, she said, is not realizing that some parishioners at St. Mark’s would feel betrayed that they were forming their Christian faith with someone who also professed to be Muslim. She said she has since tried to talk with as many of them as she could.
She will miss the collegiality of her fellow priests, though Bishop Gregory Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia, which covers Western Washington, said Wolf’s decision “does not mean the end of our personal relationships. Pastorally, we in the Diocese of Olympia are very much here for Ann.”
And there is this: As one of the first African-American women the denomination ordained, Redding was sometimes the first female or African-American priest some parishioners had ever seen. “My symbolic role has been an incredible honor.” Now she fears that some “will think I’ve somehow let them down.”
Redding is currently finishing a book with two other local authors called “Out of Darkness into Light: Spiritual Guidance in the Quran with Reflections from Jewish and Christian Sources.” She’d like to do more writing and academic work while pushing forward her desire to build an institute to study the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Maybe somewhere in her studies it will dawn on her that under Islamic law, she would have severely restricted rights as a woman, and for her beliefs, she would be regarded as a heretic, with all the associated dangers to life and limb.