Church’s first openly transgender California bishop resigns after allegations of racism

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A transgender Lutheran bishop in California resigned over allegations of racism from the congregation.

San Francisco bishop Megan Rohrer became the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s first openly transgender bishop last year. Rohrer faced backlash following a December vote to oust Rev. Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez as pastor over his mostly-Latino congregation following an investigation into verbal harassment allegations, NBC News reported.

Video footage shows Rohrer announcing Gonzalez’s removal on December 12. The distraught congregation can be heard yelling questions and complaints at Rohrer.

“Pastor Nelson has worked a lot for this day to happen. He has done a lot for our community. He has fought for our rights,” one congregant said, according to the Associated Press.

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPT. 11: Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, left, delivers words to Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer, right, (they/them) as they become the first openly transgender bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America after they were installed to the Sierra Pacific Synod at Grace Cathedral on Saturday, September 11, 2021, in San Francisco, Calif. (Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPT. 11: Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, left, delivers words to Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer, right, (they/them) as they become the first openly transgender bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America after they were installed to the Sierra Pacific Synod at Grace Cathedral on Saturday, September 11, 2021, in San Francisco, Calif. (Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

The church later set up a panel to hear complaints from Gonzalez’s congregation, who were deeply unhappy with their pastor’s removal.

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Rohrer had reportedly worn a bulletproof vest to the December 12 service announcing Gonzalez’s removal and had threatened to call the police on a pair of congregants, according to the AP.

Some congregants alleged that Rohrer had carried out the firing in a racist manner, and the panel ultimately recommended racial sensitivity training for Rohrer and other church leaders.

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Rohrer addressed a letter of resignation to the church synod Saturday, blaming “the constant misinformation, bullying and harassment” for the decision.