Ex-R.I. Priest Who Follows Two Faiths Faces Ouster

March 15, 2009

Author: Richard C. Dujardin

Source: The Providence Journal


Even as a Brown University student, Ann Holmes Redding was never far away from controversy.

She was barely into her freshman year in 1968 when she joined a black student walkout to get the university to admit more blacks — a move that resulted in a near quadrupling of the number of black students to about 250 the following year.

And after students staged a strike that effectively closed down the university to show their opposition to the Vietnam War, Redding was part of a “blue ribbon” delegation from Brown that went in the spring of 1970 to Washington to talk to such alumni as White House aide Charles Colson and U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell about ending the conflict.

But these days, as she approaches the 25th anniversary of her ordination as an Episcopal priest on March 25, Redding, who lives in Seattle, faces controversy of a different sort. She is on the verge of being defrocked by Rhode Island Episcopal Bishop Geralyn Wolf because of her insistence that she can be a Muslim and Christian at the same time.

Bishop Wolf, who is Redding’s canonical superior, has told Redding that her conversion to Islam through her recitation of Shahada, the basic Islamic creed, constitutes an abandonment of the Christian faith and that unless she recants by March 30, she will no longer be a priest.

The warning, formally issued by Bishop Wolf with the backing of the diocesan standing committee last September, has been among the communications that began in September 2007, soon after Bishop Wolf attended a meeting of the House of Bishops and heard stories about a priest claiming to be both Muslim and Christian.