Female first among Lutherans

The nation's largest Lutheran group has elected its first woman as presiding bishop.

The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, of Ohio, is the new leader of the liberal-leaning Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Eaton won on the fifth ballot with about two-thirds of the vote. The election was part of the denomination's national meeting Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Eaton defeated the Rev. Mark Hanson, who is finishing his second, six-year term.

Eaton is currently bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod. She is a native of Cleveland and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the College of Wooster.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is based in Chicago and has about 4 million members. The Protestant group in 2009 cleared the way for gays to be ordained, prompting some members to leave.

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