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“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” —Song 2:13

 Self-Development of People. Connecting and Equipping. Communities and Congregations

 May 2014
by Margaret Mwale

Detroit, MI — The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP) has approved grants totaling $114,020 to 8 communities in the United States and Belize. The money is from the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering. Self-Development of People receives 32 percent of undesigned OGHS gifts.

Grants were approved at a meeting of SDOP’s National Committee in Detroit, Michigan, May 15 to 17. SDOP enables members and non-members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to form partnerships with communities of oppressed and disadvantaged people in order to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

The projects and grants:

  • Sepa Mujer,  Central Islip, LI-NY., $15,000  an advocacy and empowerment program providing bilingual leadership development for Latina women, especially those who have suffered violence at the hands of someone close to them.


  • Panhandle St. Mary Senior Citizen Group., Marianna, FL, $20,000.  Organized by rural, low-income families, the project is a value added marketing project to sell agricultural (vegetables) products. Using donated land, the project will allow group members to grow, harvest and sell vegetables to local residents and organizations. The project hopes to improve the lives of members as well as provide fresh produce for themselves and the community.
  • Cooperative & Cannery Initiative, Shannon, NC., $20,000 for this economic development project that will enhance the financial livelihood of the families in Shannon, NC. The project involves the production, canning and marketing of the produce grown by local farmers. .  


  • Oakland Avenue Community/Market Garden and Greenhouse Cooperative, Detroit, MI., $14,000.  This group is considered a model for community group owned urban agriculture in the Detroit area.  This grant will make it possible for them to complete their commercial kitchen.  The kitchen provides added value to their urban garden.


  • New Immigrant Community Empowerment, Jackson Heights, New York., $15,000. to enable this participatory action research project which aims to identify and document wage standards, working conditions of day laborers, wage theft and low wages at the local Parada (day laborer stop). This survey will be used to raise consciences and raise wage standards for the hundreds of day laborers who access work through the local Parada. The goal of this project is to identify and document wage standards, working conditionss, wage theft and low wages at the local Parada (site where days laborers are picked up).  Ultimately this information will be used to raise consciousness and wage standards for hundreds of day laborers.

    Freedom Farmers Market Cooperative, Oakland, CA., $15,000 to support this Cooperative which brings together  farmers  and food entrepreneurs in the heart of West Oakland’s food   desert. They provide reasonably priced produce and products.  The  Cooperatives provides an income for the  members, reasonable priced produce to community residents, as well as      education to the local community about nutrition.




    Maya Freshwater Cooperative, Cuxlin Ha Village near Punta Gorda, Belize. $19,200 to assist this rural Mayan community in building  a small grocery store which will double as a computer lab for the community. The building will also serve as a hurricane shelter.




Reverend Allen Timm, Executive Presbyter for Detroit Presbytery

The Detroit meeting continues SDOP meeting model which started in 2013 of intentionally reaching out to church leaders, young adults, and communities through increased community exposure and engagement.  Thursday evening a youth panel consisting of Presbyterian young adults engaged national committee members in conversation on issues pertinent to Detroit; The Reverend Raafat Zaki, Synod Executive for Synod of the Covenant, The Reverend Allen Timm, Executive Presbyter for Detroit Presbytery,clergy and church members from the area  dialogued with national committee members about ways of reaching congregations and more effectively interpreting the SDOP ministry as well as the OGHS Offering.


 Bible study on Friday was led by Jeane Moore, Detroit Presbytery SDOP Committee Chairperson.  

National committee members also had an opportunity to hear from and learn about recently completed work that SDOP community partners Warriors on Wheels, Fair Chance and Cody Rouge Visionaries are currently engaged in. On Saturday several committee members participated in a Learning Experience (educational visit to D-Town Farm and local SDOP community partners  -- Peaches & Greens and Oakland Avenue Farmers Market). Both groups are engaged in community gardening projects. The visits were facilitated by SDOP’s Midwest Task Force member Lisa Leverette.  A community workshop at which SDOP criteria for funding and the application process were explained was held at Oakland Avenue Community Garden and Greenhouse Cooperative. 


New SDOP steering Committee.

 At this same meeting the following officers were elected:

Chairperson                              Selma Jackson, Brooklyn, NY

Vice-Chairperson:                  Rebecca Reyes, Durham, NC 

Task Forces:

Midwest                                   Sharon Ware, Columbus, OH  

 West                                         Joe Love Nelson, Lubbock, TX                                New SDOP Steering Committee    

SDOP is constantly looking for ways to engage communities of economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people in partnership as well as promote and interpret the ministry in Presbyterian congregations. For information on an upcoming community workshop for community-based groups interested in learning about possible future partnerships, to set up a workshop, to arrange for a member of the SDOP Committee to visit your church to Preach or do a Minute for Mission, please contact the National Office at:


(Are you a member of a group of low-income persons working on issues of importance to you and your community, will working on these issues result in long-term positive change? Are you in need of financial assistance?  Contact SDOP at (502)-569-5782, ( we would welcome talking with you and possibly hosting a community workshop in your area).

Margaret Mwale serves as Associate for Community Relations  for Self Development of People.




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