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“All who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matt. 23:12

Self-Development of People in Alabama

By Dan Stephens

A group of youths

Youth on the Move and Youth Making a Difference project participants. Photo courtesy of Open Door Resource Center.

Over the past several years, the Self-Development of People Committee of Sheppards and Lapsley has been cultivating long-term relationships with community partners throughout Central Alabama.   Through the efforts of past-chairperson Jessie N. Williams, our SDOP Committee has connected with the Open Door Resource Center in Furman, Alabama.  Furman is located in one of the poorest counties in the United States, but through the efforts of community leaders such as Doris Smith, children and teenagers are able to develop their leadership skills, improve their academic performance, and develop broad life-skills.  SDOP has helped fund the Youth on the Move and Youth Making a Difference programs at the Open Door Resource Center for several years, and has been pleased to see the programs expand to include collaborations with Tuskegee University and other community groups.

Sheppards and Lapsley’s SDOP Committee has also helped fund the “Daddy’s Little Girls” project, in connection with the Community Action Association of Alabama. The program, organized by Ken King with support from Lukata Mjumbe, developed Fatherhood Committees of socioeconomically oppressed fathers in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham to help develop stronger relationships among fathers and daughters.  The fathers gathered to share their own wisdom with one another, and also learned new skills and perspectives from trained workshop leaders.  The fathers even learned how to help style their daughters’ hair as a means of bridging the relationship gaps that can develop between fathers and daughters.   The program includes employed, under-employed, unemployed, homeless, single, married, custodial, and non-custodial fathers.

The SDOP Committee of Sheppards and Lapsley rejoices to see how the spirit of God is empowering people to strengthen their communities in creative and meaningful ways!


(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 the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley SDOP Committee at (205) 978.0320, or the SDOP national office at (502)-569-5782, we would welcome talking with you and possibly hosting a community workshop in your area).

Rev. Dan Stephens is the Assoc. Executive for Missional Development with the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley in Birmingham, Ala.

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