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.

All other ground is sinking sand.

When I moved to Colorado two months ago (WHAT), one of the first things I did was find the nearest independent coffee shop. I love me some Starbucks, don't get me wrong. I go there on the way to work two or three days a week, which is very embarrassing, especially because I own a coffee maker. But when it comes to sitting for 5 hours in a coffee shop, reading, writing, working, blogging, meeting with parishioners, etc., I prefer something with a little more local flair.

I found my cozy local place in an establishment called Solid Grounds, which I patronize each Wednesday afternoon and occasional other weekday mornings for aforementioned parishioner meetings. We also bring the senior high school kids here every third Sunday morning for coffee and conversation. [I say "here" because I am in my usual chair as I type this. It's Wednesday afternoon, after all!]

When I first found Solid Grounds on yelp, I looked at the photographs of its vast living-room-style space, and thought "Ooh, this could be my new Cafe Yesterday." It's missing Bob Dylan records and the hummus platter and the occasional happy hour pint with Maria, but I'll take what I can get. The yelp reviews warned me, though, that this place was run by Christians and they may "talk about Jesus" with you.


I've been here each week for seven straight weeks now, and so far, no employee has talked to me about Jesus. I often eavesdrop on other patrons who are having prayer meetings or Bible studies or talking about Jesus, because apparently this is the place to do that. Last week, though, there were three dudes at a table near me who were having a rather spirited conversation about "Liberal Christians" versus whatever kind of Christians they'd call themselves, and two of them even went so far as to try to convince the third that "Mormons believe closer to what we do that Liberal Christians do." I think I smirked or scoffed or something'd at this, because they dropped their conversation to nearly a whisper after that.

A little while later, as they were leaving, one of them remarked that he saw a disconnect between the cross around my neck and the "I Stand With Planned Parenthood" sticker on my laptop. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes, and, rather, explained that my responsibility as a Christian was not to shame other women for the choices they are faced with, but rather to make sure they are cared for, loved, and given the medical treatment they need. I told him that I see no conflict between my Christianity and my fight for freedom of choice. He shook his head and walked away.

That's the only time anyone has spoken directly to me about Jesus in this coffee shop. I shared this experience with my intern supervisor, and he expressed concern about how often I come here. Apparently, this place is a ministry of a church down the street that does not, shall we say, share the same views of "All Are Welcome" that I might demand. He even expressed reservations about the once-monthly trip here with the high school youth. Solid Grounds has a location in the Denver Seminary, which is affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals.

The question comes down to the fact that I would not donate regularly to a Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian organization, so why do I do it via coffee? Do I love the couches and lattes enough to ignore where my dollars are going? I'm so vocal about "voting with your dollars" in all other arenas -- have I stopped taking my own advice?

The solution I've come to is that, each month, I'll tally up how many dollars I spent here at Solid Grounds (because a solution that excludes coming here doesn't really work for me), and I'll donate the same amount (rounded to the nearest $5) to ELCA Advocacy.

I just needed to put that in writing so that I could be held accountable to my acknowledgment of the downside to my love of Solid Grounds, and held accountable to my commitment to counter the funding of their programs I'm doing. This may seem silly to you, but I don't really care about that, frankly. And it will benefit ELCA Advocacy, which is always a great thing.

I think church-run coffee shops are a great idea. In fact, my beloved Cafe Yesterday is a non-profit run by a rad former Wesleyan, who gives their proceeds to help the homeless in Berkeley. A few years ago at an Emergent Church conference thing I went to in Seattle, we visit a place called Holy Grounds, I think, that was the home of a forming ministry. These were cool places. And Solid Grounds is a cool place! I like the ambiance so much that I just can't give it up. But I have to have some integrity in where my dollars go, especially when it comes to funding ministry.

On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

The one where I overwhelm myself for no reason.

A bunch of stuff I wrote on my bulletin this morning.