On Saturday, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) installed their first ever transgender bishop: Rev. Megan Rohrer.
Rohrer has spent much of the last decade on the uphill climb to this point.
The church’s national assembly voted in 2010 to allow for non-celibate LGBTQ+ clergy members, but before that, LGBTQ+ ministers were banned unless they took a vow of celibacy.
After becoming the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco in 2014, Rohrer was elected in May for a six-year term as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod; now they’ve been formally installed as a bishop at “one of the church’s 65 synods, overseeing nearly 200 congregations in Northern California and northern Nevada.”
In a statement, Rohrer said:
“My call is… to be up to the same messy, loving things I was up to before,” Rohrer told worshippers. “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.”
To me, “messy” and “loving” are exactly what Christianity (or any faith, really) should be. There should be room to make mistakes, to ask questions, and to learn from others. And everyone should be welcome to come as they are, to churches with no intentions of changing things that shouldn’t matter.
This installation was especially poignant to me, because I was raised Lutheran. But I didn’t get to experience the more progressive Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). I was instead part of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (LCMS). Believe me when I tell you it would be a cold day in Hell when that denomination would install a transgender director — or allow a gay pastor at all. (They don’t even allow women to be pastors.)
When I tell people I left Lutheranism, they usually say things like “At least that’s a pretty progressive denomination!” While I wish that people knew about the more sinister branch of Lutheranism, it’s at least cause for celebration that the ELCA dwarfs the LCMS’s 1.8 million U.S. members with their 3.3 million members — and that ELCA is better known. It’s the direction more Lutherans ought to take.
(Image via Facebook)