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Paul Egertson

1935 – 2011

Paul Egertson, retired bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, died suddenly on Jan. 5 at his home in Thousand Oaks, California.

Survivors include his wife, Shirley, and their six sons, and all the Egertson family.

Bishop Egertson led the ELCA’s Glendale-based Southwest California Synod from 1995 to 2001. He shared deeply in ecumenical and interfaith collaboration — and together with the bishops of the Diocese of Los Angeles, he joined in shaping a vibrant local expression of the full communion between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church.

Full communion between the two denominations was inaugurated on Jan. 6, 2001, the Feast of the Epiphany, with a widely attended service in Washington National Cathedral.

Bishop Egertson was a regular participant in the life of the diocese. He was known as a caring pastor, a compelling professor at California Lutheran University, and a tireless advocate for peace and justice, especially the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in the Church and beyond.

Bishop Egertson’s bold, prophetic leadership was instrumental in changes of policy enacted by the ELCA General Assembly in 2009 by adoption of the statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust.” The Assembly also passed a resolution that changes be made to churchwide policy documents to make it possible for people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders in the ELCA.

Locally this summer, the LGBT ministries of the California Southwest Synod and the Diocese of Los Angeles came together for a street Eucharist in West Hollywood. Egertson was celebrant, and Bishop Glasspool preached.

Paul Egertson was born in 1935. In 1955 he earned a B.A. degree from Pepperdine University, and subsequently received a master’s degree in theology from Luther Seminary and a doctorate from the Claremont School of Theology. He served as a pastor in several congregations in addition to his academic work.