Most of us who are members of NACSW or are considering membership realize that there is something different about this association in comparison to some of the others of which we are also members. That something is our love of Christ and our ability to explore ways to ethically integrate faith and practice.
Social work as a profession closely aligns with Christian principles. We see evidence of this in our core professional values and in Scripture. There are countless examples in Scripture that address values such as service, dignity, the worth of the person, and the importance of human relationships. Take, for example, Acts 20:35 (AMP), which says, “ In everything I showed you [by example] that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed [and brings greater joy] to give than to receive.” In this Scripture we see that we are expected to serve and to treat those we serve with dignity. An example of the value of relationships is found in Ephesians 4:2 (NIV) which says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” The Bible is full of examples of how we should see the clients we serve and ultimately how we should show the love of Christ.
Each year, we as members of NACSW look forward to the annual convention for the opportunity to convene in a new city, see old friends, meet new ones and rejuvenate our social work battery pack. We return to our corners of the social work world and reflect on all that we have learned, determined to implement new techniques and approaches. We look ahead in our calendar to ensure that we will be able to make it to the convention the following year. But, did we take time to demonstrate our commitment to our values? Did we impact the city we convened in for three or four days? Can it be said that NACSW affected change in the lives of others while we learned innovative techniques for integrating faith and practice? This year we will be able to proudly say, “yes, we did!”
At NACSW’s Convention 2016 in Cincinnati we are embarking together on a community service project. We are collaborating with Indiana Wesleyan University to donate care packages to the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky (ESNKY). NACSW members will be asked to bring with them any of the following items to donate for this project: personal sized shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash, lotion, lip balm/chapstick, toilet paper, toothbrush and paste, deodorant, and/or snacks in a factory sealed container (such as chips, crackers or cookies).
I truly believe that Christ is the true example of the intersection of faith and practice. This is why membership in the NACSW is so valuable to me and why this new endeavor to engage in service as a body is so important. What a ministry and testimony this will be!
As Christians, we often quote the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst,” but let us remember that Christ mandates us in that same chapter of the book of Matthew to be the “salt of the earth, the light of the world.” I am so excited about this endeavor to share our love for Christ with our brothers and sisters in Cincinnati, and look forward to letting our lights shine, for this is indeed, shared grace.
Melissa E. Henley, LGSW is an Assistant Professor and Director of Field Education at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, MD. She is actively involved in her church and other community service organizations. She has been a member of NACSW since 2014.