Election of openly gay Rev. R. Guy Erwin as Lutheran bishop continues stunning evolution on gay issue

The openly gay Rev. R. Guy Erwin was elected bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Church in America Friday.

It’s noteworthy how far America has come in a short period of time on the gay issue that the news passed relatively quietly.

The Rev. R. Guy Erwin (The Associated Press)

The Rev. R. Guy Erwin (The Associated Press)

In a press release, church officials say Erwin was selected for a six-year term Friday at a church annual assembly.

A fairly stunning development when you consider the ELCA only changed its rules in 2009 to allow gays and lesbians to be ordained in the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination.

As a point of comparison, women gained the right to vote in 1920, yet it took 12 years for a woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Of course, we are still waiting for the first female president.

Erwin currently serves as a pastor at Faith Lutheran Church and a professor of Lutheran Confessional Theology at California Lutheran University.

Officials say the “partnered gay man” is also the first Native American to be elected. Erwin is part Osage Indian.

While the gay issue is evolving remarkably fast in faith circles, I received an email the other day that reminded me divisions remain. With the 2009 decision by the ELCA, an estimated 600 congregations nationwide have left the church for more conservative ties.

With more than 4 million members in 10,000 congregations, the ELCA remains the largest of several Lutheran denominations in the United States.

But, as my emailer noted, there are three Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, three Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, and two North American Lutheran Church congregations in York County.

All are more conservative denominations.

What do you think about the election of a gay Lutheran bishop? Too soon? Or courageous vote by members of the ELCA?

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
This entry was posted in Culture wars, Denominational doings, Elsewhere, Evangelicals, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Election of openly gay Rev. R. Guy Erwin as Lutheran bishop continues stunning evolution on gay issue

  1. dave brady says:

    Bishop Erwin was elected to serve as Bishop of the SOUTHWEST CALIFORNIA SYNOD of the ELCA. He was elected A Bishop of the ELCA, not THE Bishop. Correct prominently, please!!!!!

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