The Reverend Dr. R. Guy Erwin was elected bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on the sixth ballot becoming the first publicly-identified gay and first Native American bishop in the history of the twenty-five year old denomination.
Erwin’s election to bishop comes just two years after his ordination as pastor in the church. Erwin has served congregations in the ELCA for over twenty years but chose not to be ordained until the ELCA changed its policy regarding gay and lesbian ministers. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted in 2009 to ordain gay and lesbian people in publicly accountable, lifelong committed same-gender relationships. Erwin was one of the first publicly-identified gay pastors in the ELCA to be ordained after the 2009 changes. There were seventeen publicly-identified LGBTQ people who were extraordinarily ordained outside the regular ELCA process prior to the vote, and subsequently received onto the ELCA roster following 2009.
Erwin is a member of Proclaim, a professional association of 130 Lutheran pastors, rostered lay leaders and seminarians who publicly identify as LGBTQ. Proclaim is a program of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, a social ministry organization that supports LGBTQ pastors and their ministries. Bishop-elect Erwin also currently serves on the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Board of Directors….
…Bishop-elect Erwin currently serves Faith Lutheran, Canoga Park as interim pastor and is Professor of Religion and History at California Lutheran University. Erwin is a native of Oklahoma and an active member of the Osage Tribe of Indians. Erwin and his partner Rob Flynn are members of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, CA, and are very active in Lutheran circles locally, nationally, and internationally. He will be installed as bishop September 21, 2013 and will serve a six year term.