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Evangelical Lutheran Church Elects First Openly Gay Bishop

Evangelical Lutheran Church Elects First Openly Gay Bishop

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Guy Erwin is also the denomination's first Native American bishop.

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has elected its first openly gay bishop, also its first Native American one.

The Reverend Dr. R. Guy Erwin was elected Friday as bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He will serve a six-year term with the synod, which covers the greater Los Angeles area, reports GLAAD. He will be installed as bishop September 21.

Erwin has served churches for 20 years but was ordained as a pastor just two years ago, as he chose to wait for ordination until the ELCA adopted an inclusive policy regarding gay and lesbian ministers. It did that in 2009, approving the ordination of ministers in committed same-sex relationships.

Erwin is currently interim pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Canoga Park as and is professor of religion and history at California Lutheran University. A native of Oklahoma, he is an active member of the Osage Tribe. He and his partner, Rob Flynn, are members of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in North Hollywood. Erwin serves on the board of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, which supports LBGT pastors and their work, and he is a member of Proclaim, a professional association of LGBT Lutheran pastors, lay leaders, and seminarians.

"This is a great day for the Southwest California Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America," said Amalia Vagts, executive director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, in a post on the group's website, calling Erwin "a wonderful leader from the LGBTQ and Native American communities."

Another gay minister, James Boline, was elected Southwest California Synod secretary.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.