The Rev. Casey dunsworth

serves as Associate Campus Pastor to the Belfry, the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry to UC Davis

and as Program Director for LEVN, the Lutheran Episcopal Volunteer Network.

Missionaries make me nervous.

Why are we, the ELCA, in 2010, still traveling the world converting indigenous people to our faith? Why can't we ever just RESPECT what's already there? Humanitarian work can be done without conversion. You can do what you do in the name of Christ without conversion. I have a really hard time with this whole concept.

An ELCA missionary to Indonesia, south Asia, and mainland China came to talk to us. He showed us pictures of his students in their traditional garb mixed with priest collars.

My class, as a whole, seemed so amped off this guy, but I could not get past the part where his theology includes missionary work.

He told us a story about a pastoral care workshop he gave a few winters ago. Two weeks after the workshop, the tsunami hit. And his students were prepared to go out into their community and care for the bereaved. I'd like to say that that's lovely, but I would not like to say that that makes it worth it. I'd be willing to bet that their indigenous religious practices, as well as their HUMANITY might have led them to the same ends.

Where in our interfaith dialogue does it suddenly switch to, "but wouldn't you rather have Jesus?"

It makes me sick.

Jeff Johnson

First Sunday in Advent