Following accusations of racism, the first openly transgender bishop in America resigned from a post overseeing nearly 200 congregations.
In May 2021 Rev. Megan Rohrer was elected to a six-year term as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA). One of 65 synods, Rohrer oversaw congregations in northern California and northern Nevada until issuing a letter of resignation on June 4, 2022.
Following the resignation, the reverend posted a letter to the synod on social media stating in part, “The constant misinformation, bullying and harassment has taken too hard a toll on the Synod I love, my family and myself.”
After listening to the important and prayerful conversation at the Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly, I spent some time with my family and then had a conversation with the Synod Council. I resigned from the office of Bishop, effective around 4pm on June 4th. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/1wdBPsCzjw
— Megan Rohrer (@mmrohrer) June 6, 2022
“While I am likely strong enough to continue serving as your bishop,” Rohrer went on, “I believe I would be a poor role model for my black trans children if I continued in this position.”
According to the Associated Press, the resignation came after mounting pressure following Rohrer’s decision to fire Puerto Rican Rev. Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez who faced accusations of verbal harassment and retaliation, which have not been specified and he has denied. Rabell-Gonzalez was the pastor of Mision Latina Luterana, a congregation predominantly comprised of Mexican immigrants, and the removal took place on the significant day of Dec. 12, the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
However, the perceived racism displayed by Rohrer had more to do with alleged threats made during the pastor’s removal. At the time, the bishop was reportedly wearing a bulletproof vest due to “concerns about their safety and well-being” and went on to threaten to call the police if a father and child did not leave the sacristy. This, the AP reported, was construed as a racist threat against the immigrant community.
Following a review of Rohrer’s decision to fire Rabell-Gonzalez, presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton sought Rohrer’s resignation on May 27 and stated, “There are issues of broken trust at all levels, from individual members and communities to the broader church, which will need work to repair.”
Eaton was criticized by the Latino Ministries Association for not disciplining Rohrer for the “racist actions” and went on to add her statement was “weak and compassionless.”
As such, it would seem that Eaton is trying to amend for those failing with her more recent statement on Twitter where she said, “The Conference of Bishops (COB) met Sunday evening; Bishop Megan Rohrer chose not to attend. I shared that I am initiating the discipline process immediately, including suspension of Bishop Rohrer, based on additional information that has come to light.”
The COB strongly affirmed this decision. This process will take time, and I will provide updates as appropriate. I ask for your continued prayers for this church.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (@ELCA) (2/4)
— Bishop Eaton (@ELCABishopEaton) June 6, 2022
For his part, Rabell-Gonzalez told the AP that he will continue to lead the Stockton, Ca. congregation from a new location, the First Congregational Church, under the name Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Peregrina.
“I have been taken off the roster without due process, without any disciplinary hearing and without being accused of anything,” he said. Since Eaton has initiated the disciplinary process, Rohrer will be able to present a defense for the firing of the pastor.
Rabell-Gonzalez contended that he was not granted the same opportunity and thought the transgender bishop would have been an ally of his. As has often been the case with woke ideologues in power, Rabell-Gonzalez stated, “I got an oppressor instead.”
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