Mission Friends for Inclusion

Bisexual Worship Leader No Longer Welcome

“People pursuing authenticity don’t have to be excommunicated by their community. Children don’t have to learn to hate themselves to be loved.”

Ryan Ciganek shared this story to social media on January 17, 2018 and we have his permission to share it here.

At the 2018 Midwinter, President Gary Walter said, “The Covenant is committed to ministry with the LGBTQI community. We want to do better. We need to do better, and I confess our slowness in doing that.” He also added, “No doubt there are painful stories from LGBTQI from their personal experiences in the Covenant.”

This is one of those stories. This is one of those places where a Covenant church did not want to continue ministry with a bisexual worship leader. Though Ryan had been clear about his position on sexuality from the start, the church told him (he received no termination letter) that voicing his dissenting views was the reason for his sudden firing. In reality, the only new action Ryan took was to articulate his desire to come out publicly as bisexual. While our denomination is ultimately governed by its local congregations, biphobia is never okay. Bisexuality is the potential to be attracted (romantically and/or sexually) to people of the same or other genders, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, nor to the same degree.

This story reveals how the Covenant guidelines on sexuality, which are already problematic, are being used as a weapon in cruel and unchristian ways. Although MF4i has called for a suspension of these guidelines, even in their current state, they do not support this termination and should not be used as a shield for this congregation’s actions. This event highlights the importance of continued conversation and education about LGBTQ people in the Evangelical Covenant Church—a conversation that must include LGBTQ Covenanters from various walks of life.

If you have not yet done so, start a conversation about human sexuality with your church and leadership team. Share your thoughts and concerns with your conference board and superintendent so that this does not happen again. These conversations will only happen if we continue to insist on the need for them.