As a church social worker, Sandy Potts was in a position that allowed her to integrate her faith with her work. Working in a mega-church with over 100 staff members Sandy was able to provide for the needs of church and community members both physically and spiritually. With the appointment of a new senior pastor several things began to change that shook Sandy’s confidence and faith in both the church and the role social work plays in the context of the church as a host agency. Several staff members, including Sandy, were terminated without notice. The Care Ministry department went from a staff of eight down to two. The reason for these decisions was said to be duplication of positions on the church staff. Many concerns surfaced in Sandy’s mind as she was confronted with the reality of an immediate termination. Issues about ongoing services to clients scheduled to come in over the next couple of weeks, supervision of volunteers and student interns, coordination of programs, and a host of other practical matters rushed to her mind. Professional and personal issues were also pressing on Sandy as she thought through what was happening. She had to decide how to handle relationships she had within the church, professionally as a social worker and personally as a member of the congregation. What role did she have now that she was no longer on church staff? She would have to decide if and how she should address what she perceived as injustice and lack of caring on the part of church administrators toward clients, volunteers, interns, and staff in their decision making.
Intended Case Use
Written for a bachelor’s level capstone or integrative seminar in social work, this case may also be useful for generalist practice courses at multiple levels (micro, mezzo, and macro). This case may also be useful for discussion of multiple topics such as social work values and ethics, personal and professional values, advocacy, agency contexts (church social work), professional self-care, and working in faith-based organizations.
Author/Speaker: F. Matthew Schobert, Jr.
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