SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Reverend Dr. Megan Rohrer is the bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod, overseeing nearly 200 evangelical Lutheran congregations from Central California and Nevada up to Oregon.
The new bishop is making history.
“It made the history books because I’m the first openly transgender bishop in the Lutheran Church and maybe in all of the mainline churches across the world,” Rohrer said.
Rohrer claims that Rohrer’s appointment as transgender bishop was unexpected.
“It was a shock,” Rohrer said. “It was just a very unexpected thing for me when I was elected, but a very gratifying process to have so many people believe in my leadership skills and be ready for this.”
Rohrer’s pronouns are “they” and “them” instead of “he” or “she” because they don’t want to be put in a box.
“The ideas and the expectations about what it means to be male or what it means to be female are not fully something that I identify with.”
Rohrer says there have been challenges on their faith journey when people debate their worth as a transgender person. However, Rohrer says they’ll continue to live the life God called them to live by being a faithful person consistently.
“God and I are good,” Rohrer said. Rohrer said that if someone wishes to send me a Bible passage to correct me, I will send them my favorites and have a discussion with them. God has never once said, “Let’s vote before we decide who God loves.” That’s why the Bible is important to me. Just because people who preach the opposite to me for the rest my life are equally loved by God. And the book that I think is sacred fills their heart just as much as it fills my heart.”
Rohrer says their relationship with God has been strong ever since they were a child, and they don’t doubt God loves them.
“When I was about six, my parents were getting divorced and it was a very violent divorce, and there was this period where like, everything in the house got destroyed and we were going back to the house to see if there were any toys or anything like we could take with us. And then I had this profound feeling that God loved and was with me. Even if our house was broken up, as it would be for a 6-year-old, that’s no big deal. But I just had this deep knowing like like that Jesus was on my side and that I didn’t need toys because like Jesus was there.”
Rohrer says their role as bishop is a big step in the church, opening the doors for other LGBTQ leaders and spreading the message that God loves everyone. Rohrer hopes that in the future, gender identity isn’t as big of a deal. Rohrer hopes that other people will see God’s ability to work with all of creation.
“Folk who use scripture just to belittle or to be racist or to exclude, I think, are being spiritually abusive, and I hope to be the kind of bishop who can care for people who have heard those messages to work for healing,” Rohrer said. “Living faithfully consistently changes the church more than debating.”
Rohrer says if what Jesus says is true, then love is the greatest commandment and Rohrer plans to honor that.