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United Lutheran Seminary installs President

Philadelphia and Gettysburg, PA – For immediate release

The Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin will be installed as President of United Lutheran Seminary and Ministerium of Pennsylvania Chair and Professor of Reformation Studies on October 16 at St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lancaster, PA. The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the Celebrant and Installer. The Rev. Patricia Ann Curtis Davenport, Bishop, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA is preacher. A lecture by Dr, Erwin followed by a concert planned by the Urban Theological Institute at ULS was held on October 15 on the Philadelphia campus. The October 15 lecture and concert and October 16 installation ceremony will be live streamed on YouTube @unitedlutheranseminary. A reception and concert by Music, Gettysburg! will be held on October 17 on the ULS Gettysburg campus.

Dr. Erwin was elected president by the ULS Board of Trustees in August 2020. The installation ceremony was delayed more than one year due to the pandemic. He was the fourth bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the ELCA from 2013 to 2020. Dr. Erwin was the ELCA’s first gay, partnered bishop and the first openly gay male to serve in that office in any of the churches of the Lutheran World Federation. As an enrolled member of the Osage Nation, on whose reservation he was born in Oklahoma, he was also the first Native bishop in the ELCA. In the ELCA Conference of Bishops, he served on the Executive Committee and as Region 2 liaison bishop to the ELCA Church Council, and as chair of the bishops’ Theological and Ethical Concerns Committee.

From 2000 until his election as synod bishop, Dr. Erwin held the Gerhard and Olga J. Belgum Chair in Lutheran Confessional Theology at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. At Cal Lutheran he taught in the Religion and History departments, served as faculty chair for two years, and directed the university’s Segerhammar Center for Faith and Culture.

During the Reformation anniversary year in 2017, Dr. Erwin was in high demand as a teacher and speaker and gave 30 lectures and presentations in the United States and Germany in addition to his normal duties as bishop. Through the Lutheran World Federation and his work with the Faith & Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, Dr. Erwin maintains an extensive set of international connections, particularly in Germany and the Nordic countries.         

Dr. Erwin received a Fulbright grant for two years of study at the University of Tübingen in Germany, and an IREX grant for a year at the University of Leipzig. His doctoral dissertation was on the late medieval roots of Luther’s theology of the cross, and his subsequent scholarly work has focused on the religious culture of Lutheranism, particularly its worship and piety, with a special interest in the visual arts and architecture.

Dr. Erwin holds his A.B., M.A. and M.Phil. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from Yale University.

In 2000, after teaching church history and historical theology at the Yale Divinity School for six years, Dr. Erwin moved to Southern California with his husband, Robert T. Flynn, a West Virginia native and YDS alumnus. With offices on both campuses, Dr. Erwin and Mr. Flynn split their time between their home near Philadelphia and Lewars House on the ULS Gettysburg campus.

United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) consists of two physical campuses in Philadelphia and Gettysburg, in addition to a Distributed Learning Community. For more information, visit uls.edu

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