Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elects first openly gay bishop

Photo via callutheran.edu

R. Guy Erwin, Ph.D., Gerhard & Olga J. Belgum Professor of Lutheran Confessional Theology; Professor of Religion and History; Director of the Segerhammar Center for Faith and Culture at California Lutheran University (CLU)

Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin has been elected as Bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  The vote occurred Friday at the groups's three day assembly in Woodland Hills.

"Pastor Erwin's election marks a new and brighter day for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Lutherans as one of our own has been chosen not in spite of being gay, but because he is truly gifted and skilled for office," " said Emily Eastwood, Executive Director of Reconciling Works, in a statement.  Reconciling Works is a church group that advocates for gay and lesbian clergy members.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has more than four million members in the United States, according to its website.  The church lifted its ban on gay and lesbian pastors in 2009.  Pastor Erwin was ordained in 2011.

In an interview with GLAAD, Rev. Dr. Erwin said ""I know that many will see my election as a significant milestone for both LGBT people and Native Americans, and I pray that I can be a positive representation for both communities." 

Rev. Dr. Erwin is a professor at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.  He joined the faculty in 2000 and currently serves as the Director of the Segerhammar Center for Faith and Culture.  

He will serve a six year term as bishop.

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