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Largest Lutheran group elects 1st female leader; Eaton of Ohio will be ELCA presiding bishop

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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