ELCA Lutherans Elect First Openly Gay Bishop

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has elected its first openly gay bishop to oversee churches in Southern California

Erwin, who holds a doctorate, bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from Yale University, has spent several years teaching university and seminary classes. He currently serves as a pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Canoga Park, Calif., and a professor of Lutheran confessional theology at California Lutheran University. Part Osage Indian, Erwin is also the first Native American bishop in the ELCA.

 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has elected its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. R. Guy Erwin, to oversee churches in Southern California, four years after the church allowed openly gay men and lesbians to serve as clergy.

Following a wider trend within other mainline Protestant denominations to appoint gays and lesbians to leadership positions, the ELCA’s five-county Southwest California Synod elected Erwin on Friday (May 31) to a six-year term.

“It’s historic and a turning point, as was the ordination of women,” said Martin Marty, the dean of American church historians at the University of Chicago and a member of the ELCA. “This is just one of many indications that the culture has shifted.”

Erwin, who holds a doctorate, bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from Yale University, has spent several years teaching university and seminary classes. He currently serves as a pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Canoga Park, Calif., and a professor of Lutheran confessional theology at California Lutheran University.

Part Osage Indian, Erwin is also the first Native American bishop in the ELCA.

Erwin waited until 2011 to become ordained, after the denomination’s 2009 change to allow people in “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.”

The ELCA, which has lost members nearly every year since its founding in 1987, saw the biggest drop when it lost nearly half a million members in 2010 and 2011….

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