Well, whodathunkit? There is an Episcopalian bishop with her head screwed on straight.
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.
Redding is disappointed.
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.”
Her local supervisor sees it all as an acceptable “timeout” and “compromise.” It’s a compromise all right, and one that her superior initially supported. Remember what he said when we first visited this story.
Redding’s bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting.
If the Episcopalian church allows a practicing Muslim to remain as a priest after this year of reflection has expired, the church will have compromised its soul. How exciting!