Megan Rohrer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Megan Rohrer (born 1980) is an American activist for homeless and LGBTQ+ rights and former Lutheran bishop.[1] Rohrer is the first openly transgender minister ordained in the Lutheran tradition.


Megan Rohrer
Fifth bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod
Rohrer in 2017
ChurchEvangelical Lutheran Church in America
Term ended2022
PredecessorMark W. Holmerud
SuccessorInterim Claire S. Burkat
Personal details
Born (1980-04-03) April 3, 1980 (age 44)
SpouseLaurel Rohrer[2]
  • former Lutheran bishop
  • activist
Alma mater

Following his reception as a minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,[3][4][5][6] Rohrer served the church as bishop of its Sierra Pacific Synod from 2021 until asked to resign in June of 2022 after allegations of racism against one of the pastors under his care came to light. On June 23, 2023, Rohrer was removed from the roster of the Sierra Pacific Synod by letter,[7] and rostered ministers were notified by email on June 28.[8]

Early life and education[edit]

Rohrer was born on April 3, 1980, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.[1] In 1998, they graduated from high school and enrolled at Augustana University to study religion.[1] In college they came out as gay, and became president of the gay–straight alliance. They encountered resistance, threats, and attempted "cures" by fellow students for their sexuality.[1][3] Rohrer graduated from Augustana in 2001.[1]

Rohrer moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2002 to continue their studies. By this time they had come to identify as transgender.[3] Rohrer attended Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary before transferring to the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) in Berkeley, California, earning a Master of Divinity degree from PSR in 2005 and a Doctor of Ministry degree in 2016.[1][9][10]

Personal life[edit]

Rohrer claims to be related to Nicholas of Flüe in the 16th generation.[11][12]

Rohrer goes by he and they pronouns.[13]


Rohrer was ordained in 2006, during a time when the ELCA did not allow LGBTQ pastors to openly serve.[14] When the policy changed in 2009, Rohrer became the first openly transgender person to serve as a minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[1][4][3][15]

In 2010, Rohrer and six other Bay Area gay and transgender pastors were reinstated into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, after the national assembly voted to allow partnered gay people to serve as clergy. The pastors' churches had previously been removed from the denomination for ordaining gay and lesbian ministers who refused to adhere to the denomination's document guiding clergy conduct, "Visions and Expectations".[16] At the time "Visions and Expectations" required that candidates for and persons on the clergy roster remain celibate outside of legal marriage and monogamous within marriage.[citation needed]

In 2014, Rohrer was installed as pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Francisco.[3][5]

In 2017, Rohrer was hired by the San Francisco Police Department as their first chaplain from the LGBTQ community.[6]

On May 8, 2021, Rohrer was elected bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod, becoming the first openly trans person to serve as bishop of a major US Christian denomination.[17][18][19] On September 11, 2021, Rohrer was installed as bishop.[20]

On December 11, 2021, the Sierra Pacific Synod terminated the employment of Nelson Rabell-González, who presided over Misión Latina Luterana in Stockton, California, and defunded the congregation. The congregation was uninformed about the decision and Rohrer, who attended the service there the next day, declined to provide an explanation. Members of the congregation protested the decision and left the building with a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe to worship elsewhere. Rohrer also allegedly threatened to call the police on a father and child who remained in the sacristy.[21] Later that month, the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries suspended Rohrer from their membership for alleged "racist words and actions".[22] In February 2022, the synod announced that Rabell-González was removed for "continual communications of verbal harassment and retaliatory actions from more than a dozen victims," which Rabell-González has denied. On May 27, 2022, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton called for Rohrer's resignation, but initially declined to pursue disciplinary actions.[21]

In 2022, Rohrer was appointed to the Local Homeless Coordinating Board, which advises the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.[23][non-primary source needed]

On June 3, 2022, the governing body of the Sierra Pacific Synod considered a resolution asking for Rohrer's resignation but, if Rohrer refused, for them to be dismissed through formal adjudication.[24] Out of the 324 legal votes cast, 183 voted for the resolution and 138 voted against. Since passage of this resolution required a two-thirds majority the resolution was defeated.[25] On June 4, following an announcement by Eaton that she would be "initiating the discipline process immediately including suspension of Bishop Rohrer, based on additional information that has come to light", Rohrer resigned as bishop.[26][27]

On March 1, 2023, Rohrer filed a lawsuit against the ELCA and Sierra Pacific Synod,[28] seeking monetary damages for gender discrimination, openly hostile work environment[29] and workplace[28] harassment.[30]

On June 23, 2023, Rohrer was removed from the ELCA roster of Word and Sacrament by Interim Bishop Claire S. Burkat as a result of the denial of Rohrer's petition for On Leave from Call status.[31][32]


Rohrer has helped the homeless in San Francisco, serving as Executive Director of the Welcome ministry to the homeless and hungry, leading the Singers of the Street choir, distributing sandwiches, and participating in a night ministry with other local pastors.[4][5][33][34] Rohrer has also helped to grow and distribute thousands of pounds of free food from community gardens.[4][9]

In 2015, Rohrer started a fundraiser to raise bail for Meagan Taylor, a black trans woman who was held in isolation in an Iowa jail.[35]

In the wake of the 2016 Oakland warehouse fire, in which at least three transgender people were killed, Rohrer was called upon by the city of Oakland to provide support and assistance to the community.[36]

Rohrer has advocated for trans people who would be negatively impacted by proposed "bathroom bills" that seek to restrict restroom usage based on sex assigned at birth.[37]

In 2021, Rohrer shared their experiences of being a pastor during the COVID-19 pandemic, and advocated for LGBTQ community members to get vaccinated.[38]

Awards, honors, and recognition[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

Through Grace Lutheran Church and Wilgefortis Press, Rohrer has written a number of books for children in the Good News Children's Book Series.[43]

Children titles authored by Rohrer:

  • Rohrer, Megan (2016). The Radical Jesus Story. Lulu Enterprises Incorporated. ISBN 9781365182563.
  • Rohrer, Megan (2016). Mr Grumpy Christian. Lulu Enterprises Incorporated. ISBN 9781329946873.
  • Rohrer, Megan (2016). Is it a Boy, Girl or Both. ISBN 9781329925601.
  • Rohrer, Megan (2016). The Children's Crumbs. Lulu Enterprises Incorporated. ISBN 9781329922198.
  • Rohrer, Megan (2016). The Parable of the Succulent. Lulu Enterprises Incorporated. ISBN 9781329913790.
  • Rohrer, Megan (2016). The Fabulous Creation Story. LULU Press. ISBN 9781365201462.
  • Rohrer, Megan (2016). Too Sick For Church. ISBN 9781365188725.
  • Rohrer, Megan (2016). Jesus' Family. ISBN 9781329956681.

Children titles authored and illustrated by Rohrer:

Children titles authored by Rohrer with diverse illustrators:

Adult titles authored and illustrated by Rohrer:

  • Rohrer, Megan (2016). Faith, Hope and Love Adult Coloring Book. ISBN 9781329952072.
  • Rohrer, Megan (2016). Love: Faithful Adult Coloring Book. ISBN 9781365110856.

Adult titles authored by Rohrer:

Adult titles co-authored by Rohrer:

Adult titles edited by Rohrer:

  • Rohrer, Megan (2014). Holy Night: Prayers and Meditations for People of the Night: Friends of the San Francisco Night Ministry. ISBN 9781312256903.

Adult titles co-edited by Rohrer:

  • Rohrer, Megan; Keig, Zander (2014). Manifest: Letters For My Brothers: Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect. ISBN 9781312461147.
  • Rohrer, Megan; Tisdale, Daniel (2014). Bible Stories: Reimagining Between the Lines. ISBN 9781312379374.
  • Rohrer, Megan; Keig, Zander (2016). Manifest: Transitional Wisdom on Male Privilege. ISBN 9781365276828.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Rev. Megan Rohrer". The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Religious Archives Network. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  2. ^ Nahmod, David-Elijah (June 22, 2017). "Pride 2017: Trans pastor and police chaplain helps others". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e Chien, Jen (May 10, 2016). "A shepherd finds the perfect flock". KALW. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "The Rev. Megan Rohrer". Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Nahmod, David-Elijah (February 27, 2014). "Lutherans install trans pastor". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Rosato Jr., Joe (January 17, 2017). "San Francisco Police Department Hires Its First-Ever LGBTQ Chaplain". NBC Bay Area. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  7. ^ Flores, Jessica (2023-07-03). "SF transgender bishop who sued is removed from ministry after Latino pastor's dismissal". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2023-07-03.
  8. ^ 20230628 Letter To Rostered Minister Megan Rohrer 1 2.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Distinguished Alumni/ae". Pacific School of Religion. Archived from the original on January 8, 2019. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  10. ^ Pacific School of Religion (n.d.). "Doctor of Ministry Dissertations". Archived from the original on 27 June 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Bishop-elect Megan Rohrer". Twitter. Retrieved 2021-05-10.
  12. ^ "Lutherans elect Megan Rohrer first transgender bishop". Religion News Service. 2021-05-09. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  13. ^ Rohrer, Megan. "Megan Rohrer (@mmrohrer) on Instagram". Instagram. Retrieved March 3, 2023.
  14. ^ DeSantis, Rachel. "Lutheran Church Elects First Transgender Bishop: 'A Place in History That Means a Lot'". Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  15. ^ Rohrer, Megan. "Reverend Dr. Megan Rohrer - I Am Beautiful". Cosmopolitan Magazine. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  16. ^ Martinez-Cabrera, Alejandro (July 26, 2010). "Gay and transgender Lutheran pastors reinstated". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  17. ^ Business Session 5 - Synod Assembly 2021, retrieved 2021-05-09
  18. ^ O'Donnell, Paul (May 10, 2021). "Lutherans elect Megan Rohrer first transgender bishop". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  19. ^ Bowman, Emma (May 10, 2021). "Megan Rohrer Elected As 1st Openly Transgender Bishop In U.S. Lutheran Church". NPR. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
  20. ^ "Transgender Bishop Steps Into Historic Role In The Evangelical Lutheran Church". NPR. September 11, 2021. Retrieved March 12, 2022.
  21. ^ a b Molina, Alejandra (June 2, 2022). "ELCA presiding bishop releases report examining removal of Latino pastor by Bishop Rohrer". Religion News Service. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  22. ^ Ferrannini, John (December 23, 2021). "Lutheran LGBTQ group accuses trans bishop of racism". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved December 24, 2021.
  23. ^ "Local Homeless Coordinating Board". Retrieved 2023-07-07.
  24. ^ Keynote and Business Session 3 - Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly 2022, retrieved 2022-06-04
  25. ^ Business Session 4 - Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly 2022, retrieved 2022-06-04
  26. ^ Flores, Jessica (June 6, 2022). "S.F. transgender Lutheran bishop resigns amid controversy over removal of pastor". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 6, 2022.
  27. ^ Burkett, Eric (June 10, 2022). "Racism at heart of trans bishop's exit, but corruption allegations surface". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  28. ^ a b Rohrer V Pacific Sierra 2023 Workplace Harassment.
  29. ^ Miller, Emily McFarlan (2023-03-09). "Former Bishop Megan Rohrer, forced to resign over Latino pastor's removal, sues ELCA". Religion News Service. Retrieved 2023-03-12.
  30. ^ Bharath, Deepa (March 2, 2023). "Transgender pastor claims bias, sues Lutheran denomination". AP News. Associated Press. Retrieved March 3, 2023.
  31. ^ 20230628 Letter To Rostered Minister Megan Rohrer 1 2.
  32. ^ Flores, Jessica (2023-07-03). "S.F. transgender bishop who sued is removed from ministry after Latino pastor's dismissal". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2023-07-05.
  33. ^ Downing, Shane (May 20, 2016). "Faith-Based Meetup Distributes PB&Js To The Castro's Hungry". Hoodline. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  34. ^ Fagan, Kegin (October 9, 2016). "Transgender pastor preaches to the choir with love". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  35. ^ Ennis, Dawn (July 20, 2015). "Minister Raises $2,000 Bail for Black Woman 'Arrested While Trans'". The Advocate. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  36. ^ Melendez, Lyanne (December 6, 2016). "Heartbreak in LGBT community for lives lost in Oakland Ghost Ship fire". ABC San Francisco. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  37. ^ Robinson, Joshua (March 30, 2017). "Trans pastor visits Missoula amid "bathroom bill" news". ABC Fox Montana. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  38. ^ "Rev. Megan Rohrer on #TDOV2021 and #VaccinateSF". San Francisco Department of Emergency Management. March 30, 2021. Retrieved May 10, 2021 – via YouTube.
  39. ^ Martin, Diane (February 24, 2014). "Dalai Lama Honors Lutheran Church's First Transgender Pastor". Human Rights Campaign. Archived from the original on March 11, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  40. ^ "2014 Honorable Mentions". Unsung Heroes of Compassion. Retrieved June 13, 2017.
  41. ^ "Winners 2014". The International Film Festival for Spirituality, Religion, and Visionary. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  42. ^ Murrow, Lauren; Johnson, Sydney (November 19, 2015). "Saluting 37 Soldiers of Social Change". San Francisco Magazine. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  43. ^ "Books". Wilgefortis. Retrieved June 14, 2017.

External links[edit]