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“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.” —Isa. 6:3

Self-Development of People (SDOP)
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For more information:

Margaret Mwale
(800) 728-7228, x5792      Send email
Clara Nunez 
(800) 728-7228, x5781    Send email
Teresa Bidart
(800) 728-7228, x5790   Send email

Fax number:

(502) 569-8001

Or write to
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202

Frequently asked questions


What is the theological basis for the Self-Development of People ministry?

We believe all people have been created in God's image. This biblical truth leads to the theological conclusion that God has endowed people with the freedom to become who they were created to be. The human condition may subvert that intent, but Christ liberates us to fulfill God's intent. The Self-Development ministry helps people to move toward self-determination and God's intention of creation, redemption, and abundant life.

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What are some of the biblical references that compel the Church to engage in the Self-Development of People ministry?

(for more on this, visit theological foundation.)

  • Genesis 1:27
  • Psalm 12:5
  • Psalm 35:10
  • Psalm 140:12-13
  • Proverbs 19:17
  • Isaiah 58:6-9
  • Isaiah 61:1-4
  • Amos 5:21-24
  • Micah 6:8
  • Matthew 25:31-46
  • Luke 4:16-21
  • John 10:10b
  • Philippians 2:1-8
  • Philippians 4:8-9

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What is the source of funding for the Self-Development of People ministry?

Approximately one-third of the undesignated monies from the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering is the primary source of financial support. The secondary source is the interest income from the short-term investment of the funds used by Self-Development

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Does the National Committee fund groups more than once?

The National Committee generally funds a group only once. The group can submit a second application, which the National Committee will consider on its merit. Multi-year funding may be appropriate for some groups and may be proposed when a group first applies.

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Are regional groups fundable by Self-Development?

Generally, the National Committee does not fund regional, statewide or national groups.

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How do Presbytery and Synod Self-Development Committees get certified?

  • Every two years, presbyteries and synods submit certification applications for Self- Development of People Committees to the National Committee. The applications include names, addresses, race, vocations, previous connection with self-development programs and denominational affiliations of their Self-Development Committee members. The applications also include written evaluations of projects funded by the committees. Self-Development Committees must be composed of a majority of persons who are representatives of racial/ethnic minority groups and the majority must be members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Staff members of the presbyteries or synods may serve the Self-Development Committees as staff and are ex-officio and without a vote. Chairpersons must be Presbyterian, and must be a clergy unless the Presbytery has assigned a staff person to the SDOP committee.
  • The presbytery and synod certified Self-Development Committees will have final authority to validate and fund projects within their bounds, and to deal directly with the National Committee and community groups.
  • The presbytery and synod Self-Development Committees must agree to evaluate proposals based on the Self-Development criteria, which are the funding standards for all Self-Development Committees.
  • The completed certification application must be signed by the chairperson of the Self-Development Committee.


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What is the life of certified committees?

A Presbytery or Synod Committee is certified for a two-year certification cycle. The National Committee is required to review annually the work, make up and operations of every Presbytery and Synod Self-Development of People Committee. The National Committee is expected to certify these committees, or withdraw certifications in the event Committees do not conform to the mandate and standards for Self-Development Committees. Committees are requested to inform the National Committee of any and all changes in the composition of their committees' membership.

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Does a certified Presbytery or Synod Self-Development Committee have final authority to validate and fund projects within the bounds of its governing body?

The Presbytery or Synod Committee's action is final on projects it validates. Neither the National Committee nor any other entity re-validates its projects. No other entity can set aside an action to fund a given project. Each Self-Development Committee is the final authority on the projects it funds. The only exception exists when a Presbytery or Synod Committee request monies from the National Committee's Extended Funding Program, where the National Committee has the final authority.

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How does a Presbytery or Synod Committee get money for validated projects?

A Presbytery or Synod Committee submits a "Request for Payment" form and a "Project Evaluation" form, which has been completed by the Committee, to the national office for each program it funds. The request is processed and a check is sent to the appropriate governing body. The forms should be requested from the national office.

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Why is a Project Evaluation form requested by the National Committee?

Copies of the "Project Evaluation" forms are used for the Presbytery and Synod Committee's evaluation process, the records and the certification procedures. They serve as part of the basis for certification. They reveal the quality of projects funded by Presbytery or Synod Committees. They also furnish examples of work done that lead to the accomplishment of the goal of Self-Development and the alleviation of the plight of poor people. Further, they are sources of suggestions and inspiration, when shared with other Self-Development Committees and in interpretation material.

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Can Presbytery or Synod Committees send projects applications on to the National Committee for funding consideration?

Yes, Presbytery and Synod Committees can send project applications to the National Committee for funding consideration. However, this does not ensure the funding of the projects. Such project applications are received and put into the National Committee's evaluation process with all other applications. It may be a better process to suggest or recommend that the applying groups show their own self-reliance and submit their applications to the National Committee themselves.

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How does a Presbytery or Synod Committee meet its Self- Development Committee administrative costs?

Committee's Self-Development administrative expenses may be taken out of the presbytery's or synod's share of the Self-Development funds (maximum is 10 percent of the Committee’s annual allocation). However, many governing bodies absorb this expense as a part of their general mission costs.

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Can individuals, congregations and governing bodies make designations?

Yes, designations can be made to the Self-Development of People ministry. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), through the Mission Support Services (MSS), is required to honor designations. If designations are made, it is best to work the designation through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.

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Is there a Presbytery and Synod Committee deadline for use of funds?

Yes, the deadline for the use of Self-Development funds is December 31 for both Presbytery and Synod Committees. Funds are not carried over to the next year.

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Do Presbytery and Synod Committees follow the same procedures as the National Committee?

Every Self-Development Committee must use the Self-Development of People criteria as the standard to determine whether or not a group's project is valid for funding. However, each committee is responsible for establishing its own operational procedures. For example, each committee must determine how often and where to meet, when to accept applications, when and if the committee will do site visits, how the committee will do interpretation and help educate its congregations and how to involve the middle governing bodies.

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What is SDOP's Philosophy?

Self-Development is not charity. Rather, it is a ministry in which people join together to share and use the human and material resources God has provided. Self-Development is the freeing of a person to be the kind of person God intended, because all humanity was created in God's image. It is human dignity and worth; it is justice; it is spiritual, social, political and cultural freedom. It partners with those oppressed by poverty, who have decided what they will do to change their situation. It is the Church in action made possible by the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.

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What makes projects funded by SDOP different?

Self-Development of People participates in the empowerment of economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people seeking to change the structures that perpetuate poverty, oppression and injustice. In SDOP projects, low-income people determine the problem, organize themselves to do something about their condition and are the direct beneficiaries of the project.

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Does the Self-Development of People Program help only Presbyterians?

No, Self-Development of People enters into partnerships with groups of economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people who: 1) are oppressed by poverty; 2) want to take charge of their own lives; 3) have organized or are organizing to do something about their own condition; and 4) have decided that what they are going to do will produce direct, long-term changes for their lives or communities and will directly benefit them.

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Can you tell me about other funding sources?

Self-Development of People cannot write or apply for grants for others. If you contact us we can provide a list of other funding sources that may be helpful.

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Can I use the Self-Development of People logo?

You are welcome to use the SDOP logo for interpretation and promotion purposes.

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NOTE: We are not currently accepting applications from individual groups outside the United States. For more information, contact the SDOP staff.