FSPC wants to pool church social work on national level

Social work provided by churches in Switzerland – the so-called diaconal services – will be pooled and coordinated on a national level. Supported by an analysis report published this week, a task force appointed by the Council of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches will develop suggestions for concrete measures by the fall of 2013.
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The situation of church social work on a national and language-regional level lacks a clear structure. It is hard to determine who works with what intent on whose behalf. This is the result of an analysis report by the “Motion Diaconia” task force appointed the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches.

In the fall of 2011, the Assembly of Delegates had commissioned the FSPC to analyze the diaconal structures in Switzerland and to suggest measures to improve pooling, coordination and controlling of these institutions.

This analysis report has now been published. Nineteen language-regional and national carriers of church social work were examined. In addition to reviewing the structures, the focus was on financial, personnel-related and work-related connections and interdependences. An electronic survey among institutions and individuals providing diaconal services complements the report. More than 400 persons participated.

Participants in the survey advocate for the establishment of a national committee. This committee should discuss the internal positioning of diaconal services within the church, develop theological foundations and cooperate with the church’s welfare institutions. In addition, such a committee could serve as a platform for exchange and support diaconal research as well as education and professional training.

A significant portion of diaconal work in Switzerland is provided on the parish level. Those polled showed a keen interest in social policy matters. The question of what place church social work should take in the welfare state was seen as crucial. However, there is “no overabundance of cooperation” between providers, the analysis report states.

Now, the FSPC Council has mandated the “Motion Diaconia” task force to develop the required suggestions for concrete activities with regards to pooling, coordinating and controlling diaconal institutions and providers. The suggestions will be submitted to the Assembly of Delegates in November 2013.

The analysis report is available in German at: www.kirchenbund.ch/de/diakonie-analysebericht