LynnS6, I have been thinking about this all week, and actually I even talked to my minister about this, and like you, I am not from an evangelizing church. Maybe it would have been better if I had prayed silently, or have left God out of the help. I might even do things differently were I in the same situation again. However, neither you or Karenwith4 have addressed the actual circumstance I was referring to, and that's if you formed a real relationship over time. This is not something I have experienced with charities, but working with people, but I wondered if some people working in charities have experienced this, too. I'm talking about people you know well enough that you already know their religion because they have already told you of their own accord, or they may have already opened the doors in discussions about prayers. My point was that it is not really evangelizing to share views with those who have already shared with you, and I'm giving some charity workers the benefit of the doubt as to whether they are evangelizing or sharing. I've spent 5 years working with the same people at certain points of my career, and have been literally asked by them to pray with them at times, or asked what my views are.
The key difference here, I think, is that they asked you to pray with them. No, it's not evangelizing if they've opened up to you in the process. But I do think they have to bring it up. I think it's OK to pray silently for people.
I have several good friends who are either agnostic or atheist. I know that about them. I know that offering to pray with or for the atheist would be offensive. My agnostic (but raised with Christianity) friend takes in elements of several different traditions (Buddhism, Christianity, mainly). I offered to take her to a healing service at our church when she was struggling health-wise. She had to think about it, but did come to one service.
I have another colleague who is also Christian and when I was going through my very rough patch, I told him, and he offered to pray for me. I was grateful. He was actually on his way on a business trip to Jerusalem, and prayed for me at the Western Wall, the Milk Grotto and within sight of the Temple Mount, I was touched. I also guarantee you that I am the only one in the department who he will pray for, because we share a tradition.
Given the power imbalance, there is no possible way you can say these things without coercion. It just isn't going to happen. But, there are other ways for you state your beliefs with out the coercion. You can pray for them without telling them. You can ask her what her beliefs are.
I don't think we're as far apart as it might seen. I did say that you should ask about their belief system. If their belief system is Christian, then by all means. I believe that everyone's spirituality needs tending, but I'm leery of foisting Christianity on others, as that comes with a whole lot of colonial baggage and yes, oppression, that I'd rather avoid. Surely hospice workers can be trained to ask about beliefs and what sort of practices would help the dying and their families without assuming it's a belief in God.
And volunteering is a bit different from charity (i.e. food baskets or meals or clothing). There are certainly secular places to volunteer. If you're volunteering as a means to help out people, and you have resources to give out, I think we need to be very very careful about the border between coercion and help.