Update on Christian Muslim Priest
Priest drawn to Islam loses her collar for year
By Janet I. Tu

Seattle Times religion reporter


The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, a local Episcopal priest, says she is also Muslim.


Archive | "I am both Muslim and Christian''
Q&A: Rev. Ann Holmes Redding
The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, a local Episcopal priest who announced she is both Muslim and Christian, will not be able to serve as a priest for a year, according to her bishop.

During that year, Redding is expected to "reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam," the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island, wrote in an e-mail to Episcopal Church leaders.

Redding was ordained more than 20 years ago by the then-bishop of Rhode Island, and it is that diocese that has disciplinary authority over her.

During the next year, Redding "is not to exercise any of the responsibilities and privileges of an Episcopal priest or deacon," Wolf wrote in her e-mail. Wolf could not be reached for immediate comment.

"I'm deeply saddened, but I've always said I would abide by the rulings of my bishop," said Redding, who met with Wolf last week. Redding, who characterized their conversation as amicable, said the two would continue to communicate throughout the year.

During the meeting, Redding said she took off her priest's collar and accepted Wolf's invitation to hold it for the year.

"I understand she's holding it as an indication that we're both in this together," Redding said.

At the end of the year, the two will revisit the issue.

"I understand that one of my options would be to voluntarily leave the priesthood," Redding said.

At this moment, though, she is not willing to do that. "The church is going to have to divorce me if it comes to that," she said. "I'm not going to go willingly."

But she also doesn't completely rule it out, saying: "God will guide me over this year."

Redding's bishop in Seattle, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner of the Diocese of Olympia, who accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, said Wolf's decision is a good compromise.

"It's a good way to have a timeout and provide an opportunity for Ann to continue to teach ... and at the same time take a look at her relationship both with the Episcopal Church and the Christian faith and Islam," Warner said.

Redding is scheduled to start teaching part time as a visiting assistant professor at Jesuit-run Seattle University this fall. But she will not be able to teach, preach or work at any Episcopal church or institution during the next year, she said.

Redding, who until March was director of faith formation at Seattle's St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for 23 years.

In June, she announced publicly that, for the past 15 months, she's also been a Muslim -- drawn to the faith after an introduction to Muslim prayers left her profoundly moved.

While her announcement perplexed many, some supported her spiritual journey and her larger efforts to find common ground between Christianity and Islam.

But others were critical, saying it wasn't possible to be both Christian and Muslim. And some took issue with her being a leader within the Episcopal Church while also professing another faith.

Some also saw Redding's announcement as another sign that the Episcopal Church was veering too far away from Scripture, doctrine and tradition. The Episcopal Church, which is the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is already embroiled in deep conflict with the Communion over scriptural interpretation on issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of women.

Redding says she understands that "the last thing the church needs to deal with at this time is this type of doctrinal dispute. I wish it could've been at a more convenient time. But as far as I know, I am responding to God's will and God's timing."

For her part, Redding said she didn't feel a need to reconcile all the differences between the two faiths but felt that at the most basic level, they are compatible.

She believes she has not violated any of her baptismal or ordination vows. And "since entering Islam," she said, "I have been, by my own estimation, a better teacher, a better preacher and a better Christian."

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or jtu@seattletimes.com

Stephanie, Friday, 7-6-07 3:15 PM
re: Update on Christian Muslim Priest
I am torn between a reaction on one hand of "Good for the Episcopalians: at least they're making an Effort to preserve the integrity of their faith here" and on the other of "too little, too late."
I think I'm going to have to stick with the latter.
It is Way too little. Yes, they're asking her to stop serving as a priest. But they're not loudly and most importantly Clearly denouncing her actions as contrary to the dictates of revelation, ration, and tradition. (in other words, the Bible, everything the church has taught for 2000 years, and common sense.) Instead they're being terribly friendly and careful not to hurt anyone's feelings - taking away her little collar, but allowing her to continue teaching in some capacity.

If I'd been in charge, the instant I caught wind of the thing I'd have flown out an emergency response team equipped with Bibles and strong theological grounding to apologize to her entire congregation for the falsehoods she spread, and start spreading the true gospel as quickly and clearly as possible. (Sheesh, even I am doing it. They're not falsehoods, they're heresies!) And I would have publicaly put as much distance between the church / denomination and the aberrant priest as possible.

Their more "measured" response is a bad sign to me: it's indicative of a general lack of commitment to defending the orthodox faith - as is their conflict over the ordination of homosexuals.

OK, OK, I'll say it so David doesn't have to: this is what happens when you start ordaining women. ;)
ROUS  Annette Collins, Friday, 7-6-07 3:54 PM
re: Update on Christian Muslim Priest
HAHAHAHA. Good one Annette on David's behalf!

I totally agree with Annette. This Lady should know better since she has been a priest for 20 or so years. Turning your back on the message of Christ to a religion that denounces Christ is absolutely indesputably wrong.

I would not have allowed her to teach at a Christian school, nor preach. She needs to do some serious thinking and spend lots of time in prayer and in fellowship with Jesus, not mohamed.
ROUS  Ben Richards, Saturday, 7-7-07 12:46 PM
re: Update on Christian Muslim Priest
Maybe we shouldn't expect so much from priests and hierarchical leadership structures. They were created by and have been infiltrated by confused people. The following helps lessen my own confusion a little. Enjoy!
Link: a possible response to this situation
ROUS  Katy Brumbelow, Sunday, 7-8-07 4:37 AM
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