Home Christian News First Transgender Bishop of Largest Lutheran Denomination Resigns

First Transgender Bishop of Largest Lutheran Denomination Resigns

Megan Rohrer
Bishop Megan Rohrer speaks to the press before their installation ceremony at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2021. Rohrer is the first openly transgender person elected as bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

(RNS) — The first transgender bishop of the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States has resigned amid criticism over the decision to remove the pastor of a Latino congregation on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December.

“The constant misinformation, bullying and harassment has taken too hard a toll in the Synod I love, my family and myself,” the Rev. Megan Rohrer, who presided over the Sierra Pacific Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said in a resignation letter posted Monday (June 6) on Twitter.

However, questions remain about the timing of the resignation.

Rohrer’s post came an hour after Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, head of the ELCA, announced on Twitter that she would be “initiating the discipline process immediately, including suspension of Bishop Rohrer, based on additional information that has come to light.”

Rohrer’s posted resignation letter was dated two days prior — Saturday.

“The ELCA has decided to move forward with a discipline process, even after I resigned, without providing any specifics about what I allegedly did, and that appears to be in conflict with their own procedures,” Rohrer said in a Monday tweet thread accompanying the resignation letter.

The ELCA has decided to move forward with a discipline process, even after I resigned, without providing any specifics about what I allegedly did, and that appears to be in conflict with their own procedures. 3/3
— Megan Rohrer (@mmrohrer) June 6, 2022

Eaton did not elaborate on the additional details, but late May Eaton said she did not plan to pursue disciplinary charges against Rohrer. She had, however, requested Rohrer to resign.

Rohrer, who uses they/their/them pronouns, had been criticized by the Asociación de Ministerios Latinos de la ELCA as showing a “lack of empathy and understanding toward their Latinx siblings” for removing the Rev. Nelson Rabell-González on one of the most culturally significant and sacred days for Latinos.

Rohrer apologized in a written statement in late December, saying they “did not understand the impact on the greater church.” Rohrer said the Sierra Pacific Synod — which covers central and northern California as well as northern Nevada — provided pastoral care for those affected and had “private pastoral conversations” with individuals from Misión Latina Luterana, the congregation in Stockton, California, from which Rabell-González was removed.

An undated selfie of the Rev. Megan Rohrer, who was elected bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Sierra Pacific Synod on Saturday, May 8, 2021, becoming the first transgender person to serve as bishop in any of the major Christian denominations in the United States. Photo courtesy of Meghan Rohrer

An undated selfie of the Rev. Megan Rohrer, who was elected bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Sierra Pacific Synod on May 8, 2021, becoming the first transgender person to serve as bishop in any of the major Christian denominations in the United States. Photo courtesy of Meghan Rohrer

Eaton appointed a listening team to review the Dec. 12 disruption. The team issued a report that found Rohrer chose to remove Rabell-González even after being made aware that doing so on the sacred day would be “potentially devastating.”

The decision in December to vacate Rabell-González’s call simultaneously ceased funding for the congregation, according to the report. The congregation changed its name to Iglesia Luterana Santa María Peregrina, or Holy Mary Pilgrim Lutheran Church, “as a way to describe their experience of feeling assaulted and forced to become pilgrims,” the report noted. The congregation now worships in a parking lot.

1
2
Previous articleJudge Orders Church Led by CBN Spokesman Brad Jurkovich To Turn Over Financial Records
Next article30 Cases in a Month: Abortion, Guns Top Justices’ To-Do List
Molina most recently served as Journalist in Residence at the University of Southern California (USC) and as Equitable Cities Fellow at Next City. She has worked at The Press-Enterprise, La Prensa and OC Excelsior, and The Orange County Register. In 2018, she was named one of the 15 most influential Latina journalists by Latino Journalists of California. She has also received fellowships from the Center for Health Journalism at USC and the Institute for Justice and Journalism. Alejandra is a native Spanish speaker. She received her bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of La Verne.