Metro Weekly

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America installs first transgender bishop

The Rev. Megan Rohrer, a prominent housing and social justice advocate, will oversee nearly 200 congregations in Northern California and Nevada.

luterhan, trans, transgender, bishop
Bishop Megan Rohrer of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – Photo: Facebook.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America installed the Rev. Megan Rohrer, a housing and social justice advocate, as its first openly transgender bishop this past weekend.

Rohrer was installed in a service held in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral on Saturday, Sept. 11, becoming the first-ever transgender bishop in a major American Christian denomination.

As bishop, they will lead the Sierra Pacific Synod, which includes more than 180 congregations in Northern California and northern Nevada, comprising about 36,000 individual members and about 13,000 regular Sunday worshippers.

“My call is…to be up to the same messy, loving things I was up to before,” Rohrer told worshippers during the ceremony, according to NPR. “But mostly, if you’ll let me, and I think you will, my hope is to love you and beyond that, to love what you love.”

Rohrer was elected in May to serve a six-year term as bishop after the Rev. Mark W. Holmerud, who had led the synod for 13 years, announced his retirement. They were elected on the fifth ballot, edging out the Rev. Jeff R. Johnson, the pastor of the Lutheran chapel at University of California, Berkeley, who led the voting until the final ballot.

Rohrer, who previously served as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco and a chaplain coordinator for that city’s police department, was previously involved with efforts to assist people struggling with homelessness prior to their election. They even incorporated a plank into their platform calling for “a major evangelism effort,” including advocating for increased low-income housing and a promise to audit any of the synod’s policies that could lead to bias or discrimination.

Also Read: Arlington Catholic bishop pens letter to faithful claiming: “‘No one’ is transgender.”

Rohrer, a graduate of Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who holds a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion, was ordained in 2006 through the Extraordinary Candidacy Project, an effort to provide a credentialing process for out LGBTQ people within the denomination seeking to become ministers.

In July 2010, Rohrer, who is married and has two children, became one of seven LGBTQ pastors to be recognized as clergy by the larger Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which boasts about 3.3 million members across the United States, following the denomination’s decision to recognize the ordination of pastors in same-sex relationships.

“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 following her installation. “My installation will celebrate all that is possible when we trust God to shepherd us forward.”

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