Lutherans elect first openly gay bishop

(CNN) For more than two decades, the Rev. R. Guy Erwin couldn’t officially be a priest in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. On Friday, he was elected a bishop. Erwin’s election signals a shift not only for the ELCA – the nation’s seventh largest church – but also for American Christianity. To date, only one other mainline Protestant church, the Episcopal Church, has elected openly gay and lesbian bishops. “In these days such milestones seem to be coming at an ever-faster rate,” Erwin told CNN, “and eventually what seems revolutionary now will (later) seem normal and predictable.” With more than 4 million members in 10,000 congregations, the ELCA is the largest of several Lutheran denominations in the United States. The ELCA’s decision to allow gay clergy has strained ties between those denominations, some of whom have partnered for relief work.

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