Who we are and how it shapes what we do is the fundamental question for any organisation, but as an organisation based on a Christian understanding of service, care, compassion and justice we can be challenged to see how our faith influences our actions. This influence is not just on the strategic level, how we identify our values and how they shape our strategies but how our faith basis is expressed in our contact and care for every user, patient, family member or friend.
How our Christian faith and beliefs shape our work is what we call our Diaconal identity - the essence that makes our work different, at least in its inspiration and purpose, from other providers of social care and advocates for social justice. For our members, providing social services and being advocates for social justice is not only responding to a need people have but an active expression of Christian faith. Our services and actions have both a spiritual and a humanitarian purpose.
It is recognized that defining and promoting the unique identity and characteristics of diaconal social care is a huge challenge, but a challenge we need to face so that we can understand the significance of the work done through Diaconia so that the transformation, empowerment and reconciliation that can happen do happen. We need to be able to express this in as understandable way as possible – to users, to their friends and families, to our partners, to our staff and to our organisations.
Having clarity about our identity and being able to express this in an understandable way will enable diaconal social care to maintain and develop its position in society. It will also empower our identity as a recognizable part of the church as well as strengthen the link between praxis and theology.
Both Eurodiaconia and our members have worked on this topic and will continue to do so. Our social, moral, political and theological contexts keep changing and we need to continually consider our identity against the contexts we are in. To this end we have set up a Network on Faith in Social Care that considers issues of Diaconal Identity, the provision of services and advocacy. We have also gathered together materials produced by Eurodiaconia and our members on identity in specific contexts. Finally, you can find materials that assist in the understanding of the relationship between Diaconia and the Church.
If you would like further information on this area of work please contact