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Why I Am a Social Worker: 25 Christians Tell Their Life Stories


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Why I Am a Social Worker describes the rich diversity and nature of the profession of social work through the 25 stories of daily lives and professional journeys chosen to represent the different people, groups and human situations where social workers serve.

Many social workers of faith express that they feel called to help people – sometimes a specific population of people such as abused children or people who live in poverty. Often they describe this calling as a way of living out their faith. Why I Am a Social Worker serves as a resource for Christians in social work as they reflect on their sense of calling, and provides direction to guide them in this process.

Why I Am a Social Worker employs a narrative, descriptive approach, allowing the relationship between faith and practice to emerge through the professional life stories of social workers who are Christians. As such, it provides a way to explore integration on personal, emotional and practical levels. Why I Am a Social Worker does not varnish the difficulties and struggles of this integration journey, but if you want to understand what social work is and how Christians live their faith from the experiences of actual social work, this book is for you.

Why I Am a Social Worker has three main objectives:

  • To describe the path of Christians into social work, how their work is an expression of their faith, and how their faith motivates, sustains, and is challenged by their work.
  • To sample the breadth of social work as a profession, from public to private and from nonsectarian to religious congregational settings, and how faith finds a diversity of expressions.
  • To serve as a resource for exploring the ethical integration of faith with professional practice.Why I Am a Social Worker addresses a range of critical questions such as:
  • How do social workers describe the relationship of their faith and their work?
  • What is their daily work-life like, with its challenges, frustrations, joys and triumphs?
  • What was their path into social work, and more particularly, the kind of social work they chose?
  • What roles do their religious beliefs and spiritual practices have in sustaining them for the work, and how has their work, in turn, shaped their religious and spiritual life?Why I Am a Social Worker will provide you with a realistic view of the gritty realities of a profession that is at the forefront of serving those Jesus described as the least of these (Matthew 25).Dr. David Sherwood, Editor-in-Chief of Social Work & Christianity, says about Virtues and Charter in Social Work Practice that:I think this book will make a very important contribution, particularly for new students in introduction to social work classes in Christian colleges and universities. The diversity of settings, populations, and roles illustrated by the personal stories of the social workers interviewed will bring the possibilities of social work to life in ways that standard introductory books can never do. The stories also have strong themes of integration of faith and practice that will both challenge and encourage students entering into the field.Ken Stoltzfus, Social Work Department Chair at Samford University in Birmingham, AL, adds that:In this book, Dr. Diana Garland contributes to the ongoing discourse on Christian vocation and highlights the ways that Christians in social work are able to fulfill their specific vocational call to serve those in need. By telling the stories of 25 social workers from diverse faith traditions, racial and cultural backgrounds, and fields of practice, Dr. Garland highlights the many faces of the social work profession and the multiplicity of opportunities that exist for Christians who are called to serve as social workers. Dr. Garland’s book will be inspirational to all who have experienced a call to love God and serve the world as professional social workers.

    Rene Drumm, Associate Dean for the College of Health at the University of Southern Mississippi, asks:

    Do you want to gain new insights, inspiration, or ignite a passion for social work? If so, I highly recommend Diana Garland’s most recent book, Why am I a Social Worker?. Drawing from the experiences of 25 Christian social workers, Garland provides a narrative of devotion to both faith and profession that spans various social work fields as well as belief traditions. This book will appeal to beginning students as well as seasoned practitioners alike.

    Janet Furness, Assistant Dean/Director of Social Work at Ramapo College of New Jersey, suggests that:

    Dr. Garland has created a qualitative research masterpiece. Ever the teacher, she carefully documents the rigorous effort confronting the researcher/writer who cares about accuracy, as she does, without sacrificing the heart of the matter. Questions closing each story are portals offered to launch the reader’s exploration of even deeper levels of faithful Christian response to practice in its many facets.

    Check out reviews for Why I Am a Social Worker which appeared in:

    a) the September, 21st, 2015 issue of the Baptist Standard (Volume 127, Number 38): Book Review

    b) a January 23, 2016 posting to the website of Evangelicals for Social Action: Book Review


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