US Evangelical Lutheran Church installs first openly trans bishop: ‘There is no body, nobody, that isn’t welcome in a church like this’

Rev Dr Megan Rohrer faces the congregation after being installed to the Sierra Pacific Synod at Grace Cathedral

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has installed its first openly trans bishop, Rev Megan Rohrer.

Rohrer was installed as a bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod in a lovely service at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral on Saturday (11 September 2021). According to the Independent, they are the first trans person to serve as a bishop in the domination or any of the major Christian faiths in the US.

Rohrer will now lead one of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s (ECLA) 65 synods and will oversee nearly 200 congregations across northern California and northern Nevada.

They told the congregation and crowds gathered outside the cathedral that they hoped their installation could bring hope to the LGBT+ community.

“So many of the places where trans people experience violence these days are in the places where there are a lot of people who believe their faith compels them to divide and to distance,” Rohrer said, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

They added: “There is no body, nobody, that isn’t welcome in a church like this, that isn’t welcome in God’s community, that isn’t a full and faithful part of the church.”

Rohrer previously served as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco and as chaplain coordinator for the city’s police department. They were elected in May to serve for a six-year term after the then-bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod announced his retirement.

Rohrer was ordained under an “extraordinary candidacy process” in 2006 because the ECLA banned non-celibate LGBT+ ministers, according to NBC News. It wasn’t until 2010 – when the ban was lifted – that Rohrer was one of seven LGBT+ pastors reinstated to the national assembly.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the new bishop is married and has two children.

Ross Murray, an ELCA deacon and senior director of the GLAAD Media Institute, told the Advocate in a statement that Rohrer’s installation is a “historic step in the LGBTQ leadership in the church” and will be a continuation of their tireless work for “their whole ministry”.

“They recognise the face of God in the marginalised and the privileged, and focus their ministry on youth, the homeless, people of colour, LGBTQ people and others historically left out of the life of the church,” Murray said in a statement.

The ECLA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the US with about 3.3m members, the Guardian reported.