The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) installed its first openly transgender bishop on Saturday during a ceremony at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco with 65 bishops and more than 150 pastors in attendance.
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.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Rohrer “served as pastor at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Parkside neighborhood and chaplain for the San Francisco Police Department before being elected to a six-year bishop term” earlier this year.
“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 in a statement. “My installation will celebrate all that is possible when we trust God to shepherd us forward.”
The Chronicle reported, “The two-hour service featured messages, prayers, music and Bible readings chosen by Rohrer, including the story of a follower of Jesus who met and baptized a eunuch – groundbreaking in ancient times.”
— Sierra Pacific Synod (@spselca) September 12, 2021
The presiding bishop of the ELCA, Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, led the ceremony.
“Your bishop sleeps on the streets with those who have no homes. Your bishop feeds those who are hungry,” Eaton said. “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.”
More details from The Chronicle:
Rohrer’s impact has spread beyond San Francisco.
Pastor Noah Hepler came from Philadelphia to celebrate. He appeared on the show “Queer Eye,” on which Rohrer visited him and talked him through his struggles with being a gay pastor.
“I’m almost at a loss for words,” Hepler said about the significance of the day. “We all grew up in a time when the church was saying no, and now we have bishops who are LGBTQ. It’s an amazing time to be in the church.”
The Daily Wire previously reported that Rohrer was elected to serve as bishop in May with 209 votes during an online synod assembly, narrowly defeating the Rev. Jeff R. Johnson of Berkeley, California, who received 207 votes.
At the time, Rohrer told ABC 10 News 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,” said Rohrer. “And I also want to say, ‘Welcome.’”
Rohrer was barred from serving in the church’s leadership positions in the mid-2000s due to what Rohrer’s bio described as “policies against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals.” The church had only allowed gay and lesbian people into the ordained ministry if they remained celibate. In 2009, however, the church reversed course and voted to open the ministry to gay and lesbian people living in committed relationships.
The Associated Press reported, “Rohrer became one of seven LGBTQ pastors accepted by the progressive Evangelical Lutheran church in 2010 after it allowed ordination of pastors in same-sex relationships.”
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