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First Out Trans Bishop Installed by Lutheran Denomination

Megan Rohrer

The Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer will make history Saturday, but it won’t be the first time.

Rohrer will be installed as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, making them the denomination’s first out transgender bishop. Rohrer was the first out trans pastor ordained by the ELCA back in 2006, under what the church called an “extraordinary candidacy process,” as its regular ordination process did not open to out LGBTQ+ clergy for four more years. Rohrer was elected in May to a six-year term as bishop of the synod, which covers nearly 200 congregations in California and Nevada.

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

The installation ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Rohrer will be joined by Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA, along with nearly all 65 bishops of the various ELCA synods across the United States. The synod staff who will serve alongside Rohrer will be installed as well. Ross Murray, an ELCA deacon and senior director of the GLAAD Media Institute, will be an assisting minister in the ceremony.

“While Bishop Rohrer’s installation is a historic step in LGBTQ leadership in the church, it is a continuation of the ministry that Bishop Rohrer has been doing for their whole ministry,” Murray said in a statement to The Advocate. “They recognize the face of God in the marginalized and the privileged, and focus their ministry on youth, the homeless, people of color, LGBTQ people, and others historically left out of the life of the church.”

Friday and Saturday will be filled with related events, including a listening session led by the Rev. Nicole Garcia, the first Latinx transgender pastor in the ELCA; a roller-skating event raising funds for a youth camp; and an interfaith memorial service commemorating the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

“The diverse events surrounding my installation point to a God who joins us in worship, on the streets, at our jobs, and when we roller-skate,” Rohrer said. “During all the difficulties we have encountered through the pandemic, it is more important than ever to celebrate joy, hope, and love everywhere that we find it.”

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