Priest who professed Islam defrocked by Episcopal Church

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(RNS) An Episcopal priest who professed two years ago that she was also a practicing Muslim has been defrocked by the Episcopal Church.

Rhode Island Bishop Geralyn Wolf informed Ann Holmes Redding, who lives in Seattle, of the decision on Wednesday (April 1). Although she lives outside the diocese, Redding was ordained in Rhode Island and remained under Wolf’s authority.

“Bishop Wolf found Dr. Redding to be a woman of utmost integrity and their conversations over the past two yeas have been open, honest and respectful,” the diocese said in a statement. “However Bishop Wolf believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim.”

The diocese learned in June 2007 about Redding’s Muslim profession. It removed her from ministry temporarily and told her to spend a year on “discernment of her faith commitment.”

After that year, a diocesan committee determined that she had abandoned her Episcopal faith “by her formal admission into a religious body not in Communion with the Episcopal Church.” She was restricted from public ministry and told she had until Tuesday to determine if she would renounce either her Muslim faith or her Episcopal ordination. The diocese “deposed,” or defrocked, her when she did neither.

“I am very sad,” Redding told the Seattle Times on Tuesday. “I’m sad at the loss of this cherished honor of having served as a priest.”

Redding, formerly a director of faith formation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, told Religion News Service in a recent interview that her two faiths “illumine each other much more than they collide” and she didn’t spend much time on theological disputes.

“My experience and my call is to follow Jesus,” said Redding, who was an Episcopal priest for 25 years, “even as I practice Islam.”

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