Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Update on the Rev. (?) Dr. Redding

It's been about a year since the case of the Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding hit the press. She's the Episcopal priest who, while serving at the Cathedral of the Diocese of Olympia, announced that she was both Muslim and Christian.

While that didn't seem to be a problem for the then-Bishop of Olympia, it was a problem for her own Bishop, Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, where Dr. Redding is canonically resident. Bishop Wolf put Dr. Redding under a year's Pastoral Direction, "giving her the opportunity 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. During the next year she is not to exercise any of the responsibilities and privileges of an Episcopal priest or deacon."

Over the weekend, Bishop Wolf sent the following:
June 20, 2008
To: Members of the House of Bishops
From: The Rt. Rev’d Geralyn Wolf
Re: The Rev’d Dr. Ann Holmes Redding

In June of 2007, I issued a Pastoral Direction to The Rev’d Dr. Ann Holmes Redding, a priest canonically resident in the Diocese of Rhode Island but living in Seattle. She claimed to be both a Muslim and a Christian. Among other things, she was suspended from all priestly duties for one year, at which time I would review the situation. If it became necessary to take further action the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Rhode Island would be engaged in early July, 2008.

I met with The Rev’d Dr. Ann Holmes Redding on May 22, 2008, and believe that she remains committed to her profession of both Christianity and Islam. As I am leaving for pre-Lambeth engagements on June 28, prior to the end of her suspension, I have extended the Pastoral Direction until September 15, 2008. I do not think that it is fair to make a decision of this nature from afar; without ready access to either Dr. Redding or the Standing Committee.

The decision for extension was not requested by Dr. Redding, nor does it indicate a change in my understanding of the theological conflicts inherent in professing both traditions.

Dr. Redding is a woman of utmost integrity and our conversations remain open and mutually gratifying. I have great respect for her and the process of exploration to which she is committed. I also remain devoted to our Christian faith and the ordination vows taken by those who have entered the sacred priesthood.

The media is requesting an update from me. Recalling the attention this attracted a year ago, I share this communiqué with you.

Looking forward to seeing you at Lambeth.


Cc: the Rev’d Dr. Ann Holmes Redding; Standing Committee; Diocesan Council;
Email: All Clergy; Ms. Neva Rae Fox; Ms. Janet Tu
Thanks to Fr. Scott Gunn who posted the letter on his Seven whole days blog, and linked on Canon Harmon's TitusOneNine.

That Bishop Wolf is being quite gracious to Dr. Redding might be a bit of an understatement -- especially considering how some other Bishops (including the Presiding Bishop) are dealing with more orthodox dissidents to the directions the Episcopal Church is heading. But it is probably salutary that a final decision wait until after the Lambeth Conference.

At least it is still clear that one can't be Muslim and Episcopalian.

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