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NACSW History

NACSW started as an interdenominational and international professional association which grew out of a series of annual conferences at Wheaton College (Illinois) beginning in 1950, and originally incorporated as The Evangelical Social Work Conference in 1954.

Leadership is vested in a  Board of Directors composed of at least twelve NACSW members elected by the membership for three-year terms (see Current NACSW Board). The following represents a brief summary of the history of NACSW from its inception in 1950 up through the present day.

1950: NACSW started as an interdenominational and international professional association which grew out of a series of annual conferences at Wheaton College (Illinois) beginning in 1950.

1954: NACSW was incorporated in the State of Illinois as the Evangelical Social Work Conference.

1957: NACSW was renamed the National Association of Christian Social Work and, four months later, the National Association of Christians in Social Work.

1957: NACSW published the first newsletter: Catalyst.

1960: Early 1960s: The first regional chapter of NACSW was established: the Mid-Atlantic Chapter, centered in Philadelphia and serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Other chapters were added soon thereafter.

1969: Due to declining attendance, the annual conference (1969-1972) was held in conjunction with the Annual Forum of the National Conference on Social Welfare.

1973: The annual conference was reestablished as an independent program and was attended by 225 registrants.

1973: Membership, newsletter, and (eventually) other operations were moved from Wheaton College to Eastern College, St. Davids, Pennsylvania, under the oversight of Edward G. Kuhlmann (Director of Eastern’s Social Work Major).

1974: The association’s journal was founded (two issues per year) under the title “The paraclete.” The first editor (1974-1975) was Dr. Ralph W. Eckardt, Jr. (Associate Professor of Social Work at Philadelphia College of Bible).

1975: The annual conference was renamed the Annual Convention and Training Conference. 1976: Dr. Paul K. H. Kim (Professor of Social Work at the University of Kentucky) was appointed second Editor (1976-1979) of the journal. Six Consulting Editors are appointed to assist in the anonymous review of papers submitted for publication.

1976: The 26th Annual Convention and Training Conference was held at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia, establishing a new convention attendance high of 412. Several weeks later, an outbreak of Legionnaire’s’ Disease, which infected 221 people and killed 34, was traced to an area of the hotel just a few feet away from the convention registration area.

1978: Membership passed the 1,350 mark

1979: The name of the journal was changed to Social Work and Christianity, in order to make it more recognizable to both the professional and Christian communities

1980: Dr. Peter Hookey (Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) was appointed third Editor of the journal (1980-1982), and the name was changed to Social Work and Christianity: An International Journal, an early reflection of increasing Canadian membership in the association.

1980: The first association office was established at Eastern College, St. Davids, PA, and Edward G. Kuhlmann was appointed Executive Director (part-time and unsalaried); and a full-time, paid Administrative Assistant was hired.

1983: Dr. David A. Sherwood (Associate Professor and Social Work Program Director, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma) was appointed the fourth editor of the journal (1983-present).

1983: The association adopted its current name, the North American Association of Christians in Social Work, in recognition of its members living in Canada and the Canadian Chapter of the association.

Mid 1990s: Due to space limitations at Eastern College, the association established an off-campus office in Devon, Pennsylvania.

1997: The Alan Keith-Lucas Memorial Lecture was established at the Annual Convention and Training Conference to honor a long-standing member of the association.

1997: Rick Chamiec-Case was hired as the association’s second Executive Director, and the office was moved to Sandy Hook, Connecticut,

1998: NACSW’s current mission was adopted by the Board of Directors.

1998: NACSW books became available on Amazon.com.

1998: NACSW launched its website at: www.nacsw.org.

1998: The first edition of NACSW’s primary textbook, Christianity and Social Work: Readings on the Integration of Christian Faith and Social Work Practice, edited by Beryl Hugen, was published. 1998 NACSW, in partnership with Cedarville University, launched the first of its listserves to facilitate online discussions and connections with NACSW members throughout North America (and beyond).

1998: NACSW participated in a Social Work Summit convened by NASW in recognition of 100 years of professional social work. Representatives from each of 45 national organizations were in attendance.

1999: NACSW launched JobNet, an online job posting service facilitating employment connections for Christians in social work/services.

1999: NACSW entered into an arrangement with American Professional Agency to assist NACSW members to obtain professional liability insurance.

1999: NACSW, in partnership with JournaLearning, launched a home study program providing CEUs for Social Work & Christianity.

2000: NACSW’s Board approved organizational memberships. 2000 In partnership with w/ESA (Evangelicals for Social Action), NACSW began to offer discounted subscription rates to Prism magazine as member benefit. 2001 NACSW launched it online membership directory on NACSW’s website.

2001: NACSW launched a joint CAPS (Christian Association of Psychological Studies) membership and conference exhibit exchange.

2001: NACSW launched its member mentoring program.

2002: The Executive director position becomes a full-time position.

2002: Social Work & Christianity expanded from two to three issues per year, and published its first special issue.

2002: NACSW participated in NASW Summit II. 68 leaders representing 42 national social work membership organizations were in attendance.

2002: NACSW was approved by the Association of Social Work Boards as a provider of continuing education credits (CEUs).

2002: NACSW launched quarterly audio conference workshops/webinars.

2003: Membership passes the 2,000 mark.

2005: Social Work & Christianity is expanded from three to four issues per year.

2005: NACSW contracted with Trinity Christian College to provide staffing support for NACSW’s conventions (through 2011).

2010: NACSW began posting monthly podcasts to NACSW’s website.

2010: NACSW partnered with CSWE to convene the CSWE Religion and Spirituality Work Group (including representation from NACSW; CSWE; the Islamic Social Services Association; the Society for Spirituality in Social Work in the US; and the Society for Spirituality and Social Work in Canada).

2010: NACSW’s Board approved an endowment fund, and launched the Alan Keith-Lucas Society for members and friends who made a planned gift to NACSW.

2011: NACSW developed a social media presence utilizing Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and iTunes.

2011: NACSW started a blog called Shared Grace.

2013: NACSW launched its online CEU training partnership program through an initial grant provided by Baylor University, and supported by 12 Christian college/university partners.

2014: The name of the journal is changed to Social Work and Christianity: Journal of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work.

2014: NACSW agreed to make available on NACSW’s website the resources collected over many years by Christians Supporting Community Organizing, which dissolved as a membership association at its August 2014 annual membership meeting.

2014: NACSW agreed to provide on-going support for the International Association of Adventist Social Workers (IAASW) by creating an Adventist Member Interest group of NACSW.

2015: NACSW’s Board approved the Diana R. Garland Award for Social Work Practitioner Excellence