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Bishop Megan Rohrer

Lutheran denomination installs first transgender bishop

An openly transgender person was installed as a bishop last weekend by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Sixty-five bishops and more than 150 pastors attended the ceremony in San Francisco.

Bishop Megan Rohrer will lead the Sacramento-based Sierra Pacific Synod, which includes almost 200 congregations in California and Nevada. The 41-year-old biological female uses the pronouns “he” and “they” and is married to a wife, Laurel. The couple has two children.

“I step into this role because a diverse community of Lutherans in Northern California and Nevada prayerfully and thoughtfully voted to do a historic thing,” Rohrer said. “My installation will celebrate all that is possible when we trust God to shepherd us forward.”

As a Bishop, 41-year old Rohrer will be given the reigns over their diocese as well as the power to bestow holy titles to other clergy members.

The presiding bishop of the denomination, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, led the ceremony.

“Your bishop sleeps on the streets with those who have no homes,” she said. “Your bishop feeds those who are hungry. This bishop walks not only with families in trauma, but when these first responders respond to a traumatic incident and these people need to stay with the bodies of those who died, this chaplain, your bishop, stands with and prays with them.”

Rohrer was elected by just two votes to serve as bishop in May with 209 votes during an online synod assembly, narrowly defeating the Rev. Jeff Johnson of Berkeley, California, who received 207 votes. At the time, Rohrer said the election was “bigger than just one person.”

“There are many people who have been hurt by churches, and as someone who wears the same uniform, I would like to say, ‘I’m sorry’ if you have been hurt by people of faith,” Rohrer said. “And I also want to say, ‘Welcome.’”

Rohrer was barred from serving in ELCA leadership positions in the mid-2000s because what a bio described as “policies against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals.” The church had allowed gay and lesbian people into the ordained ministry only if they remained celibate. In 2009, however, the church reversed course and voted to open the ministry to gay and lesbian people.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice