Witnessing, saving, serving?

A relational approach to community development in the suburbs of a global city

Richard Howitt*, Kath McLachlan, Matalena Tofa, Iqbal Barkat, Garima Misra, Nathan Moulds, Johana Susanto, Philip Osborne, Dominic Grenot, Nitin Rajan, Joanne Yates

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper considers the community development practice of The Salvation Army in a public housing estate in Sydney, Australia. Drawing on interviews with community members, officers, staff, and volunteers from The Salvation Army, we explore the transformative potential of relational, rather than transactional, community development practices. In accepting the theological principle of imago Dei as the foundation for its practice, The Salvation Army prioritized listening, witnessing and simply loving people and place, and generated a profound sense of belonging and connectedness. This relational approach to community development offers valuable lessons for faith-based communities of social work practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-110
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • advocacy
  • community organizing
  • engaged witnessing
  • imago Dei
  • public housing
  • relational community development
  • religion
  • The Salvation Army

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