Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin, on May 31, 2013, during the synod’s assembly in Woodland Hills, California, was elected the first gay bishop of the Evangelical Luthern Church in America and one of sixty-five synodical bishops in the denomination. He will serve a six-year term with the synod, which covers the greater Los Angeles area. He will be installed as bishop on September 21.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has always disapproved of homosexuality as an open defiance of God. Erwin said “ there was a time when I believed that I would not be able to serve as a pastor in the ELCA. Our church has now recognized the God-given gifts and abilities that LGBT people can bring to the denomination.”
Emily Eastwood, Executive Director of Reconciling Work, commented that the election of Pastor Erwin to the office of bishop occurred because he was the best candidate, not because he was a partnered gay man ( with Rob Flynn).”
Erwin’s Extraordinary Qualifications
Reverend Erwin was ordained on May 11, 2011 in Samuelson Chapel at California Lutheran University where he is the Belgum Chair in Luther Confessional Therapy which includes promoting the connection between the University and the Church. He is ordained directly to a specialized ministry as a teaching theologian.
He directs the Segerhammar Center for Faith and Culture. Erwin waited for ordination until the ELCA adopted an inclusive policy regarding gay and lesbian ministries. The policy was adopted in 2009, approving the ordination of ministers in committed same-sex relationships.
He has served churches for twenty years. Erwin is professor of religion and history at California Lutheran University. An interim pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Canoga Park, he is a member of St. Mathew’s Lutheran Church in North Hollywood. He is a member of Proclaim, a professional association of LGBT Lutheran pastors, lay leaders, and seminarians. He also serves on the board of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, which supports the work of LGBT pastors.
Rev. Erwin is the ELCA’s sole representative to the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, working internationally and ecumenically. From Oklahoma, he is member of the Osage Tribe.
The new bishop commented on his elected to GLAAD: “I know that many will see my election as a significant milestone for both LGBT people and Native Americans, and I pray that I can be a positive representation for both communities.”