LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America elected its first openly gay bishop to a six-year term on Friday at an annual assembly in Southern California, officials said.
The election of Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin comes after the church’s controversial rule change in 2009 that allowed gays and lesbians to be ordained in the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination. More than 600 congregations have left the denomination since the change.
“The ELCA is a church that belongs to Christ, and in it there is a place for all,” said church spokeswoman Melissa Ramirez Cooper. “The election of Pastor Erwin illustrates what many in the 4 million-member church believe: that God calls each of us by name.”
Erwin, a resident of the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles, currently serves as a pastor at Faith Lutheran Church and a professor of Lutheran Confessional Theology at California Lutheran University. He has also served on a variety of boards and committees of church-related institutions and agencies.
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