On May 20, the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will preach at the 158th Eucharist and Commencement Service of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). The service will be held at 2:30 p.m. at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 5472 South Kimbark Avenue, Chicago.
“Like many others, I have long admired Bishop Erwin’s remarkable combination of scholarly insight and pastoral heart,” said James Nieman, president. “His ability to speak with clarity and care about some of the most pressing questions for our church and in our society makes him the ideal person to bear the good news to our graduates during the upcoming commencement exercises.”
Dr. Erwin is a scholar of the religious culture of Lutheranism with a focus on its worship and piety. Prior to his election as bishop in 2013, he held the Gerhard and Olga Belgum Chair in Lutheran Confessional Theology at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif. During the 2017 Reformation anniversary year, Erwin was in high demand as a teacher and speaker. He gave 30 lectures and presentations in the United States and Germany in addition to his duties as bishop.
Erwin is the ELCA’s first synod bishop who is gay and partnered. He is also part Osage Indian—born in and still active with the Osage Nation of Oklahoma. His Native heritage makes him another “first” among ELCA bishops. He serves on the Executive Committee of the ELCA Conference of Bishops and as Region 2 liaison bishop to the ELCA Church Council and on the bishops’ ready benches for Justice and the Middle East Peace.
Before moving to Southern California in 2000, Erwin taught church history and historical theology at the Yale Divinity School. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a doctorate from Yale University. He studied at the University of Tubingen in Germany on a two-year Fulbright grant and at the University of Leipzig on a one-year IREX grant. His dissertation was on the late medieval roots of Luther’s theology of the cross.
Ordained in 2011, Erwin served as part-time interim pastor for three ELCA congregations in California, and before his ordination as part-time minister for congregations in California and Connecticut.
Erwin and his husband, Robert Flynn, live in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.
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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.