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R. Guy Erwin

President and Ministerium of Pennsylvania Chair and Professor of Reformation Studies


A.B, M.A., M.Phil. - Harvard University

Ph.D. - Yale University

President Erwin Photo Gallery

Dr. Erwin was appointed President of United Lutheran Seminary and Ministerium of Pennsylvania Chair and Professor of Reformation Studies in August 2020.

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. He currently serves on the board of Susquehanna University.

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.

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.