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First transgender Lutheran bishop has been asked to resign

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has asked Megan Rohrer, its first transgender bishop, to resign after the cleric fired a Hispanic pastor on a culturally important religious day for the Latinx community, Church Leaders (CL) reports.

The ELCA requested the resignation last month, after the Latino Ministries Association of the Evangelical Lutheran Church criticized Rohrer’s move as an example of systemic racism.

A bishop with the denomination’s Sierra Pacific Synod, Rohrer fired pastor Nelson Rabell-González from his post as mission director at Misión Latina Luterana in Stockton, California on December 12, The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, CL reports.

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe commemorates a day in 1531 on which many Mexican Americans believe the Virgin Mary appeared to an indigenous man named Juan Diego; the day is considered a time of celebration for the Latinx community to celebrate their cultural identity as well their religious faith.

Explaining its unanimous decision to remove Rabell-González, the Sierra Pacific Synod council said in a statement that its move followed “continual communications of verbal harassment and retaliatory actions [by Rabell-González] from more than a dozen victims from 2019 to the present.”

However, in a statement dated December 15, the Latino Ministries Association of the ELCA said it was “deeply disappointed” at Rohrer’s decision to remove Rabell-González on one of the “most important” days for the Latinx community. “This action highlights a lack of empathy and understanding toward their Latinx siblings from the Synod Council of the Sierra Pacific Synod,” the Association said. “This unfortunate situation is a clear and painful example of how systemic racism is deeply rooted in our church, and the long journey ahead of us to dismantle it.

Announcing her request for Rohrer’s resignation, ELCA head Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said in a May 27 statement: “I do not believe that the circumstances of these unfortunate events and Bishop Rohrer’s involvement in them rise to the level of formal discipline against Bishop Rohrer. However, I believe that Bishop Rohrer has lost the trust and confidence of many constituents, both within and without the Sierra Pacific Synod.”

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