Jesus summarized the Old Testament law and prophets when he gave the two great commandments saying “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:35-40) The early church lived these commandments in their practice of selling property and possessions and sharing with others so that there were no needy persons among them (Acts 2:44, 4:34). On this foundation, the Department of Social Work & Ministry develops culturally competent servant leaders grounded in biblical truth to practice generalist social work in diverse settings worldwide advancing human and community well-being.
While today's secular social work often disavows its Christian roots, before the rise of modern states the Christian church provided social services across the Mediterranean world. When the emperor Constantine endorsed Christianity in 313 CE, Christians set up or expanded burial societies, poorhouses, homes for aged, shelters for the homeless, hospitals, and orphanages throughout the Roman empire. Later North American social work grew out of 19th century religious revival movements and Protestant gospel-centered urban mission efforts to resolve social problems in large cities like poverty, prostitution, disease, and other afflications.
A dynamic relationship exists between the Christian life and social work practice. Christians in social work & ministry ought not to be motivated by temporal wealth, power, or security. Christians in social work ought to examine and evaluate all human ideologies and social work theories and methods as to their consistency with the bible, their consciences, social laws, and professional codes of ethics. Christians in social work & ministry ought to work for the temporal and external well-being of all human beings, and for the redemption of persons, restoration of communities and renewal of social institutions. In this way, the Department of Social Work and Ministry is determined to reset social work back to its Christian and congregational roots.