As LGBTQ History Month closes, meet someone who has just recently made history: Reverend Dr. Megan Rohrer was installed in September as a bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, making them the first openly transgender bishop in a major Christian denomination.
Bishop Rohrer now oversees nearly 200 congregations in California and Nevada. They spoke with Out in the Bay about their faith journey; about moving away from fear towards greater acceptance, love, and hope; and about the significance of the Sierra Pacific Synod electing its first transgender bishop.
“If a trans person can be a bishop,” Rohrer told us, “that means there’s nobody – literally no type of body – that can’t be a faithful person, can’t be a leader in the church, can’t be someone who prays in the pews or receives communion at our altar.”
While working in a shelter for abused children 20 years ago, a South Dakota six-year-old told Rohrer that he had attempted suicide 12 times because “he had heard from a pulpit” that he might be “bad,” and he thought he’d rather die than get “so bad” that he’d go to hell.
That “twisted my heart,” said Rohrer, inspiring their move to Berkeley, Calif. in 2001 to study theology and become a pastor, so that the pulpit would have one more voice offering messages of love rather than fear. Rohrer relieves stress by roller-skating with their family at San Francisco’s Church of 8 Wheels, a former Catholic church reborn as a disco roller rink.
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This episode was produced by Kendra Klang with audio engineering and editing by Eric Jansen. Photo of Bishop Rohrer by Vince Donovan