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Self-Development of People (SDOP)
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SDOP committee stories

My forty years with SDOP

by Rev. Ken Graham, Presbytery of Long Island

 As I approach my 50th anniversary as an ordained pastor with the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., I have begun to reflect back on my ministry with all its many opportunities and challenges, accomplishments realized as well as those left undone.  Back in the 1970’s, only a couple of years out of Seminary, I was asked to serve on a new denominational initiative called Self-Development of People. 

Rev. Ken Graham, Presbytery of Long Island



I was intrigued and inspired by its mission: helping people help themselves, empowerment, supporting human rights and dignity, self-reliance, and partnering with the poor and oppressed within our communities.  For me this was certainly at the heart of the Gospel message and I became a member of Long Island Presbytery’s first SDOP Committee.

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Women Empowered for Entrepreneurial Excellence

 by Rev. Henk Bossers

A group of women

Members of Women Empowered for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

Last week my 80 year old friend lamented that canning is no longer a vital survival project. He remembered how his widowed mother

during the depression (1930’s) was able to care and feed for her four children. They had a small home with a small garden. Yet the small garden produced enough food for canning and winter food.

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Learning new skills in the Edad de Oro (Golden Age)

Senior development program

By Sally Glover, Chair of the Donegal Presbytery SDOP Committee

People sitting at a table

Members of Edad de Oro. Photo courtesy of Edad de Oro.

Edad de Oro is a group composed mainly of elderly Latinos, laid off, or with disabilities and illnesses living in Lancaster, Pa. As they tried to help each other, they decided to unite their efforts. With a grant from the Donegal Presbytery Self-Development of People Committee, they formed a group that provides mutual help and opportunities to share, learn and develop life and occupational skills to make items that can be sold.

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The Eastminster Presbytery SDOP Committee

By Rev. Jim Ray

The Rev. Jim Ray

The Rev. Jim Ray. Photo by Rami Daud.

There we sat, only five of our 12 member committee, to hear the application from East Side Voices, a group from the east side of Youngstown, Ohio. Illness and other problems had reduced our number for that important gathering but those five came through in true SDOP style. I have often reflected on what took place following the presentation by the East Side Voices folk. There we sat on one side of the table, with responses coming, one after the other, from the five different cultural backgrounds that make up our committee. As the chairperson, and a white male clergy, I thanked them for their presentation and felt they had an interesting proposal in trying to bridge the gap between high school teen agers and senior citizens in a primarily African-American section of the city. I was appreciative of their approach to strengthen their neighborhood, which has been on the decline. then I waited for my Committees response, as I sat at the head of the table.

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