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Press Release: Bishop Rohrer Travel to South Dakota


Catherine Slabaugh

Communications and Connections Coordinator

Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA


Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer to Travel to Sister Synod of South Dakota

The first openly transgender bishop will spend a week in South Dakota at their alma mater, Augustana University, and with the South Dakota Synod of the ELCA.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - The Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer (they/them), Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod and first openly transgender Bishop in a mainline Christian denomination, will travel to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from Oct. 5-10, 2021. Bishop Rohrer will visit their alma matter, Augustana University, to celebrate homecoming weekend and receive the university's Alumni Achievement Award, as well as spend time with the Sister Synod of the Sierra Pacific Synod, the South Dakota Synod.

“It is a delight to return to South Dakota, where I was raised and nurtured, to celebrate the place and the people that lifted me up for ministry. I hope that during my visit, I can give back to those who have taught me so much and supported me on my journey,” shared Bishop Rohrer.

Bishop Rohrer was ordained Extraordinarily in 2006, one of 18 pastors ordained during the time when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) did not allow LGBT pastors to serve openly. In 2010, Bishop Rohrer was one of the first seven pastors received into the ELCA after their policies changed. On Sept. 11, 2021, they were installed as the fifth Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod, becoming the first openly transgender Bishop in a mainline Christian denomination.

Bishop Rohrer was born in 1980 in Sioux Falls and grew up attending their local Lutheran congregation. In 1998, Bishop Rohrer enrolled at Augustana as a sculpture major, but quickly changed to a religion major and in 2001, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in religion. In 2002, Bishop Rohrer relocated to San Francisco where they attended Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Pacific School of Religion, both in Berkeley, California. Bishop Rohrer earned a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in 2005 and a Doctor of Ministry from Pacific School of Religion in 2016.

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, Bishop Rohrer will preach at the Augustana's Chapel of Reconciliation service, then spend the afternoon speaking with undergraduate religion classes and meeting with the university's Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) group. Wednesday will include time speaking with introductory religion classes at Augustana, before spending the afternoon with Bishop Constanze Hagmaier, Bishop of the South Dakota Synod, and her staff.

“I’m delighted to welcome Bishop Rohrer back to their home state and home synod,” said Bishop Hagmaier. “I look forward to spending time with them and discussing how the South Dakota Synod and the Sierra Pacific Synod can continue to grow our relationship as sister synods. I’m grateful that their time here will include several opportunities for conversation with students and community members. I encourage all who are able to attend an event with Bishop Megan to do so, to hear more about what God is up to here in South Dakota and in our sister synod,” shared Bishop Hagmaier.

Thursday will include more time with undergraduate classes at Augustana University and conversations with the South Dakota Synod Staff and faith leaders, as Friday launches into homecoming weekend. Bishop Rohrer will ride in the Viking Days Homecoming Parade Saturday morning, and receive the Alumni Achievement Award at a dinner that night. Sunday will conclude Bishop Rohrer’s trip, with a special Vikings Day Worship Service at Augustana's chapel, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

“In addition to all the events we have planned, I look forward to reconnecting with family from Harrisburg to Clark, South Dakota. I am grateful to Augustana University and the South Dakota Synod for their generous hospitality, and I look forward to many more visits to come,” shared Bishop Rohrer.


About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands.," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

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