LOS ANGELES — The Lutheran Evangelical Church of America (ELCA) has elected its first-ever openly homosexual bishop.
The vote occurred on Friday in Woodland Hills, California, where R. Guy Erwin received 210 of the 381 votes cast on the sixth ballot during the three-day assembly. Erwin’s election was announced by the denomination in a press release, noting that he is “ELCA’s first synod bishop who is gay and in a partnered relationship.”
Erwin will oversee the Southwest California Synod, which covers Los Angeles and the surrounding area.
“The ELCA is a church that belongs to Christ, and in it there is a place for all,” stated 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 currently leads Faith Lutheran Church in Canoga Park, California and is also a professor of Lutheran Confessional Theology at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. He is additionally the ELCA representative to the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, and is noted as being the first Native American bishop in the denomination.
“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,” Erwin told the homosexual advocacy group GLAAD. “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.”
His bio states that he believes he brings to the position a “deep faith in Christ’s presence in his church lived out in 20 years of parish experience blended with university and seminary-level teaching.”
The ELCA voted in 2009 to allow homosexual clergy, which has resulted in over 600 churches parting ways with the denomination.
“The vice of the sodomites is an unparalleled enormity,” Lutheran founder Martin Luther once stated, according to Ewald Martin Plass’ book What Luther Says: An Anthology. “It departs from the natural passion and desire, planted into nature by God, according to which the male has a passionate desire for the female. Sodomy craves what is entirely contrary to nature.”
“Whence comes this perversion? Without a doubt it comes from the devil,” he continued. “After a man has once turned aside from the fear of God, the devil puts such great pressure upon his nature that he extinguishes the fire of natural desire and stirs up another, which is contrary to nature.”