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ELCA Presiding Bishop Releases Report Examining Removal of Latino Pastor by Bishop Rohrer

“The Bishop continually reminded the staff that they — the bishop — should make all the decisions and did not need consultation,” the report read.

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The listening team noted that the Sierra Pacific Synod has long been a supporter of LGBTQ people and highlighted that the congregation “spoke about the pride of electing the first openly transgender bishop in the ELCA.”

However, as part of the investigation, the team learned that many believed “Rohrer has weaponized parts of their identity to defend their position and avoid being accountable for the alleged racist misconduct.”

Salazar-Davidson, who was directed to lead the Dec. 12 service, said there have been numerous instances in which Rohrer “became defensive” when members of the ELCA approached them regarding the Dec. 12 events.

“In particular, members of color and other leaders from the trans community identified that when Bishop Rohrer enters a space, especially of people of color, they will consistently be interpreted as a white masculine-presenting person,” Salazar-Davidson said.

Bishop Megan Rohrer visiting and presiding at Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Jose, California, during one of their first days as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod. Photo by Makayla Rohrer/Sierra Pacific Synod

“This was not an attempt to diminish Bishop Rohrer’s transgender identity, but instead to alert them to how their presence impacts marginalized groups. Instead of hearing how they impact others, they became defensive and accused them of ‘gender violence’ and ‘transphobia,’” she added.

The team also found that the Sierra Pacific Synod council is not meeting diversity membership requirements as stated in its constitution. “The likelihood of injustice is high when a predominantly (or entire) white group is in charge of decision-making for a person or community that differs from itself,” according to the report.

Among its recommendations, the team said the Sierra Pacific Synod should find a way to provide a home for the congregation’s ministry and added that the Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly should enact legislation that would support leaders of color as well as help fulfill diversity quotas in committees and task forces.

It also calls on the presiding bishop to create a diverse task force to review the policies and procedures of the ELCA and a crisis management team to provide support and advice to the organization’s leaders.

Emily McFarlan Miller contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on ReligionNews.com.