American Lutheran Church elects California pastor as its first transgender bishop
A California pastor was elected the first transgender bishop to lead a synod in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, also becoming the first-ever transgender bishop of a large American Christian denomination.
On Saturday, Pastor Megan Rohrer, pastor of the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco, was elected to a six-year term as bishop of the Synod of the Sierra Pacific, a Sacramento-based congregation that includes more than 180 northern and central congregations. California and northern Nevada, comprising about 36,000 individual members and about 13,000 Sunday regulars, according to Press service on religion.
Rohrer was elected on the fifth ballot, ahead of Reverend Jeff R. Johnson, the pastor of the Lutheran Chapel at the University of California at Berkeley, who led the vote until the final ballot.
Rohrer had campaigned to hire a communications professional to “lead a major evangelistic effort”, promote social housing in an area where house prices have exacerbated homelessness, and order an audit to examine synod policies that could lead to prejudice.
“I am so proud to be a Lutheran,” said Rohrer, 41. The New York Times in an email. “I pray that my election by the faithful of the Sierra Pacific Synod will become a constant reminder that the fabulous love of God is never limited by the opinions or laws of others.”
Reverend Elizabeth A. Eaton, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, said in a statement Monday that the Sierra Pacific Synod recognizes Pastor Rohrer’s gifts as a leader.
“When we say everyone is welcome, we mean everyone is welcome,” Eaton said. “We believe that the Spirit has given each of us gifts to build up the body of Christ.”
Rohrer, who holds a master’s degree in divinity from the Pacific School of Religion, where they also did postgraduate work, serves as the community chaplain coordinator for the San Francisco Police Department and has been recognized for his past work. with the homeless, particularly through their past role as Executive Director of Welcome, an organization of San Francisco congregations that undertakes various initiatives to address homelessness and housing insecurity.
Rohrer also gained minor celebrity status, appearing in the Netflix series “Queer Eye” and profiled in Time magazine and Cosmopolitan, where they shared their story of reconciling their LGBTQ identity with their Christianity.
See also: From Catholic Bishops to LGBTQ Youth: “God is on Your Side”
Rohrer was ordained in 2006 as part of the Extraordinary Nomination Project, now known as Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, which arose in the early 1990s in resistance to a policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church that required its clergy gay is single. In July 2010, they became one of seven LGBTQ pastors who had previously been barred from being recognized as clergy by the largest Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
“Megan has always found herself walking alongside those who raise their voices for justice and for their safety,” the Lutheran Ministries Extraordinary said in a statement on Saturday. “Today, history has been made in our church! ELM celebrates a church that now recognizes the gifts of queer leaders like Bishop-elect Rohrer and we anticipate the day when all queer ministry leaders will be called to unhindered or barrier-free ministry and affirmed in their God-given callings .
Ross Murray, senior director of the LGBTQ media organization GLAAD, and author of Made, Known, Loved: Developing Inclusive LGBTQ Youth Ministry, praised Rohrer’s election, saying it “demonstrates that Lutherans recognize the leadership that LGBTQ people can bring to the church.”
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, hailed Rohrer’s election as “revolutionary” and said it would serve as a source of inspiration and hope for many.
“Transgender people often find it difficult to be rejected by their congregations,” Heng-Lehtinen told the Time. “Tour. Rohrer’s election shows that progress is possible. This confirms that the more Americans get to know their transgender neighbors on a daily basis, the more they learn that we share many of the same dreams and values. Everyone, including transgender, deserves to be welcomed by their faith. ”
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