Christianity’s Big One: The Great San Francisco Quake of 2021

If the election of Lutheran Pastor Megan Rohrer on May 8 as the first openly transgender bishop in a major American denomination is Christianity’s equivalent of The Big One, then it fits that this particular quake’s epicenter is San Francisco, home of Rohrer’s current ministry.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will install Rohrer (they/he), who made headlines around the world following that historic vote, on July 1 to serve its Sierra Pacific Synod, which includes about 200 congregations in northern and central California and northern Nevada.

The ELCA began paving the way for LGBTQ+ ministry in 2009 when it voted to allow non-celibate gay ministers to serve, becoming become the nation’s largest denomination to do so. Four years later the church called its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, to serve its Southwest California Synod.

Prior to that, the Episcopal Church in 2003 was the first major Christian denomination to elect an openly gay bishop, the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson — a move that rocked the Anglican Communion, prompting some U.S. congregations to join foreign dioceses and others to form a rival Anglican denomination.

Whatever shockwaves may lie ahead for the ELCA, Pastor Rohrer’s social media presence paints a picture of a minister who’s girded to ride them with humility, warmth and a healthy sense of humor. Here’s a sampling.

For starters, they speak both Boomer and Gen X.

They’re all for self-care — and also for a person’s right to tangle with glitter.

They recognize the realness of the quarantine-heightened plant-parent struggle.

They know that call-and-response can happen anywhere, including Twitter.

On the question of preferred pronouns, they break it down.

They have an elegant, loving response to a seemingly complicated question.

They can snark, throw shade and cancel body shaming in 79 characters.

They call out transphobia in a relatable way.

They challenge us to get out of our comfort zones, reminding us that the best way to relate to trans people is to listen.

They underscore the fundamental importance of a loving home.

They pull focus back to where it belongs.

They remind us who we’re called to serve.

And last but not least, they’ve got serious historical perspective.

In other words, just because we’re experiencing a quake in modern times doesn’t mean the pressures haven’t been building for centuries.