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First openly transgender bishop of major U.S. denomination grew up in Sioux Falls

Constanze Hagmaier, left, bishop of the South Dakota Synod of the ELCA, with Megan Rohrer, bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA.

This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

For the first time, there’s an openly transgender person serving as a bishop for a major U.S. Christian denomination.

And it’s someone who grew up in Sioux Falls.

Megan Rohrer was installed last month as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA.

The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the U.S.

Rohrer says it was not an easy journey.

“There were moments when people were intentionally trying to put hurdles in front of my path towards ministry or towards my ability to love or name myself or claim myself or get medical care in a way that felt like it was holistic for me," Rohrer said. "And what got me through a lot of those moments is that from a very early age, I had a kind of mystical connection with God where I knew God and I were good.”

Rohrer now lives in northern California. They came back to Sioux Falls recently to help their alma mater, Augustana University, celebrate Viking Days.

“There is something kind of beautiful about having faith in yourself, and then coming back to a place where maybe not everybody was on the same page with you," Rohrer said. "Look what time can do. Look what God can do, with even a wretch like me. And so I think that for me is the homecoming story to come back and say God was awesome.”

Rohrer is an author, musician, filmmaker and activist, and works with San Francisco’s LGBTQ homeless community.

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