The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America installed its first openly transgender bishop in a service held in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral on Saturday.
The Rev. Megan Rohrer will lead one of the church’s 65 synods, overseeing nearly 200 congregations in Northern California and northern Nevada.
‘My call is … to be up to the same messy, loving things I was up to before,’ Rohrer told worshippers. ‘But mostly, if you’ll let me, and I think you will, my hope is to love you and beyond that, to love what you love.’
Rohrer was elected in May to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod after its current bishop announced his retirement.
‘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 statement. ‘My installation will celebrate all that is possible when we trust God to shepherd us forward.’
Rohrer, who uses the pronoun ‘they,’ previously served as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco and a chaplain coordinator for the city’s police department, and also helped minister to the city’s homeless and LGTBQ community. They studied religion at Augustana University in their hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, before moving to California to pursue master and doctoral degrees at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.
Rohrer became one of seven LGBTQ pastors accepted by the progressive Evangelical Lutheran church in 2010 after it allowed ordination of pastors in same-sex relationships. Rohrer is married and has two children.
The church is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States with about 3.3 million members.
About Rev. Megan Rohrer
Megan Rohrer, is a native of Sioux Falls, SD. A graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, Megan received a master of divinity at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California where Megan is currently a candidate for the Doctorate of Ministry degree.
The first openly transgender pastor to be ordained in the Lutheran church, Megan has been the Executive Director of Welcome (a ministry to the homeless and hungry in the Polk Gultch District of San Francisco, CA) at Old First Presbyterian Church since June of 2002 – and has been called to this ministry by a joint call from herchurch (Ebenezer Lutheran), Christ Church Lutheran, St. Francis Lutheran and Sts. Mary and Martha Lutheran. Megan was ordained extraordinarily on November 18, 2006.
Known for creative leadership and ministry, Megan has worked with congregations across the Bay Area to transform unused land into community gardens. The most notable of these gardens is the Free Farm, a 1/3 acre farm on the former site of St. Paulus Lutheran Church which is expected to harvest 12,000 pounds of free food that will be given away to local residents.
Preaching and teaching across the country, an author for the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Out In Season: A Transgender Encounter With the Church Year and as a facilitator of HRC’s Gender Identity and Our Faith Communities– A Congregational Guide for Transgender Advocacy, Megan is known as a leader in transgender theology.
Currently, Megan is working in partnership with the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco on the Vanguard Project. Tenderloin street youth founded the organization Vanguard in 1966 with the support of liberal ministers, and in the context of a federal anti-poverty campaign. It is considered to be the nation’s first gay liberation organization and first gay/transgender youth organization. This project creates a series of opportunities for people living in poverty and those working on anti-poverty campaigns, to consider their place in the city vis-Ã -vis creative engagement with Vanguard Magazine, published from 1966-68.
Megan also served as the Director of Candidacy for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, on the board of Soujourn Chaplaincy at San Francisco General Hospital is an associate of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, MN.
Rev. Megan Rohrer was received onto the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.