A priest of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, Washington was defrocked on April 2nd, 2009 for her Islamic beliefs. Reverend Ann Holmes Redding, a priest with the Episcopal Church for 25 years, converted to Islam two years ago yet she remained in communion with the Episcopal Church.
“I have people who love me very much who really don’t want me to do this, and I love them very much. And I would love to be able to say, ‘Because I love you I will renounce my orders’ or ‘I will renounce Islam’ … I hate causing pain to people who love me, that’s not my intention,” Redding said.
After being introduced to Muslim prayer, Redding became interested in, and ultimately drawn to Islam. When she made her conversion nearly two years ago, Episcopal Bishop Geralyn Wolf allowed Redding a year off to clarify her faith.
21 months later, Redding had not denied her Muslim faith or left the priesthood; in spite of the directives issued by the Episcopal leadership she maintained that her two faiths were compatible. Yesterday Bishop Wolf made the decision to remove Redding of her position at St. Mark’s Cathedral.
In Christianity and Islam, while “there are streams of tradition that are mutually exclusive, there are also streams that are not mutually exclusive,” said Eugene Webb, professor emeritus of comparative religion at the University of Washington. “Ann is exploring those.”
It would be a good thing, Webb said, if more churches allowed for such exploration since it’s “going to take place one way or the other. It might be better to wait and see what comes of them, rather than decide in advance that it wouldn’t be fruitful.”
We stand firmly beside the controversial soul searchers and free thinkers. Religion is an inherently personal system of beliefs, and in many cases a dogmatic approach to faith – as offered by traditional churches – can not fulfill the needs of the human spirit. At the ULC Monastery we do not subscribe to the teachings of one, but rather the intrinsic wisdom of many. We must all follow our own path; we are all children of the same Universe.