The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America elected its first openly gay bishop to a six-year term on Friday at its annual assembly in southern California, WORLD reports. The election of Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin comes after the church's controversial rule change in 2009 that allowed homosexuals to be ordained in the nation's largest Lutheran denomination. Erwin, a resident of Los Angeles, currently serves as a pastor at Faith Lutheran Church and professor of Lutheran confessional theology at California Lutheran University. He has also served on a variety of boards and committees of church-related institutions and agencies. More than 600 congregations have left the denomination since it decided to ordain homosexual clergy in 2009.