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“The bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.” Exod. 3:2

Theology

Presbyterians have traditionally valued self-determination. It is a concept deeply rooted in the Christian Church’s philosophy and in the pioneering spirit of the United States. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), through the Self-Development of People ministry, considers the application of this concept a crucial element in turning the tables on despair here and abroad. It affirms the concept demonstrated by Christ and His mission. By His actions, Jesus demonstrated His belief in people as children of a loving God. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues that mission by exercising the same belief in the practical terms of our own day and age.

Christians recognize their own need for independence and self-respect. Through the work of the Self-Development of People ministry, Presbyterians have the opportunity to be partners in development so that others may grow with dignity.

That some of our sisters and brothers are forced to beg for human dignity is absolutely scandalous to the Kingdom to which we have been called to witness. May God provoke us to give our money, our time and our talents to programs of self-development as an evangelical witness to the good news of salvation revealed in Jesus Christ.


Biblical and theological foundation

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 of people ministry helps people to move toward self-determination and God's intention of creation, redemption, and abundant life.

I want to remind you that God cares, God cares about injustice, about oppression, about exploitation.

—Bishop Desmond Tutu

Scriptures

Concern for the Poor

Ex. 3:1-20 God is revealed as liberator, and sends Moses to free Israel from oppression.
Ex. 6:2-13 God is the liberator.
Ex. 22:20-24 Show justice and mercy toward the strangers and outsiders of society.
Deut. 24:17-22 Show justice toward strangers, orphans and widows.
Ps. 12:5 Because the poor are desolate, because they suffer, God will place them in safety.
Ps. 34:6-22 The Lord hears and protects the just.
Ps. 35:10 God delivers the weak and needy from those who oppress them.
Ps. 40:1-3 Show regard for the lowly and the poor.
Ps. 72 God defends the poor and oppressed. Justice flourishes.
Ps. 140:12-13 The Lord executes justice for the poor.
Prov. 31:8-9 Be an advocate for the voiceless.
Isa. 61:1-4 The Lord gives good news to the poor.
Jer. 22:3 Rescue the victim from the oppressor.
Matt. 8:20 Christ lived in poverty.
Matt. 25:31-46 The Parable of the Last Judgment.
Mark 10:35 -40,42-45 Power as Service.
Luke 1:52-53 God exalts the poor.
Luke 4:16-21 Jesus announces his mission to liberate people.
Luke 16:19-31 We are called to reach out to the poor.
Rom. 12:10-18 Exercise hospitality; make friends with the poor.
2 Cor. 8:1-15 Share with the needy. Christ became poor to enrich us.
I John 3:17 Selfishness obstructs love.


Human Dignity

Gen. 1:27 All humanity is created in the image of God.
Ex. 23:9 Don't oppress strangers.
Job 31:32-33 "The stranger has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the traveler."
Ps. 103:6-10 The Lord secures justice and the rights of all the oppressed.
Prov. 22:22-23 Do not rob or injure the poor.
Isa. 43:16 "I have called you by name. You are mine."
Hos. 2:16-20 God betroths us in justice and integrity.
Luke 10:25-37 The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a model for a Christian lifestyle.
Acts 1:4-5 The Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to do Christ's work.
Acts 1:6-8 Our job is to be Christ's witnesses.
Acts 17:26 "From one ancestor God made all nations to inhabit the whole earth."
Rom. 15:7 Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.
Eph. 4:23-24 Put on a new self, created in God's way.
James 2:15-16 Supplying bodily needs to our brothers and sisters.


Justice

Ex. 22:25-27 Show mercy and kindness toward your neighbors.
Deut. 15:11 Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor.
Deut. 16:20 "Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue ..."
Ps. 97:2 "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God's throne."
Ps. 140:12-13 The Lord executes justice for the poor.
Ps. 146:5-9 The Lord loves the righteous.
Prov. 14:31 Kindness shown to the poor is an act of worship.
Prov. 21:3 Justice is more pleasing than sacrifice.
Prov. 31:8-9 Protect the rights of the poor and needy.
Isa. 29:13 A change of heart requires more than lip service.
Isa. 58:6-9 God loosens the bonds of injustice and lets the oppressed go free.
Jer. 7:1-11 Deal justly with your neighbor and the oppressed.
Jer. 22:16 To know the Lord is to act justly.
Amos 5:14-15 "Seek good and not evil, that you may live."
Amos 5:21-24 God does not want empty religious exercises but instead worship that expresses true conversion and renewal that produces justice.
Mic. 6:8 What does the Lord require
Zech. 7:8-11 Christians must show justice and mercy.
Mark 10:17-23 What must I do?
Luke 4:16-21 Jesus announces his mission to liberate people.
Luke 7:20-22 Jesus becomes our peace and justice.
Luke 11:40-42 We need justice and love.
Acts 16:16 -24 At times, being a Christian means disrobing the status quo.
Heb. 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have.


Solidarity

Gen. 4:9-10 Am I responsible for my neighbor?
Lev. 19:18 Love others as you love yourself.
Deut. 10:16-20 Do not oppress those different than yourselves.
Ps. 8 God's unique creativity of humankind.
Ps. 9:8 God judges with justice, governs with equity.
Ps. 82:1-4 Rescue the lowly and the poor.
Ps. 139:13-16 All people are so wonderfully made by God.
Prov. 21:13 Listen to the poor.
Eccl. 4:1-3 The power of oppressors victimizes the weak.
Isa. 32:16-17 Justice will bring peace.
Isa. 58:1-12 God wants a conversion of heart that produces justice, love, and mercy.
Matt. 22:37:40 Love God and love others.
Matt. 25:31-46 Jesus identifies himself with the poor.
Luke 10:29-37 Our love must be inclusive.
Luke 15:1-2 Jesus is associated with the outcasts of society.
John 1:14 "And the Word became flesh and lived among us."
John 10:10b Jesus came that all might have life abundantly.
Acts 10:34-35 God shows no favoritism.
Acts 17:22 -28 God made from one the whole human race.
Rom. 13:8-10 Our only debt is to love one another.
1 Cor. 12:7-12 The gifts of the Holy Spirit are tools for building Christian community.
1 Cor. 12:24-26 If one suffers, all suffer.
2 Cor. 6:14-18 The human body is a temple of the living God.
Gal. 3:28 There are no distinctions: All are one in Christ.
Phil. 2:7 God sends Jesus into the world, "being born in human likeness and being found in human form."


Dignity of Work

Deut. 15:4 Let there be no poor among you.
Is. 3:13-15 Do not grind the face of the poor.
Heb. 2:6-9 God upholds the dignity of all creation.
2 Cor. 6:6 Paul lists the qualities of a servant.
Gal. 5:1 You have been called to live in freedom.
James. 5:1-6 Riches obtained unjustly bring misery.
Luke 3:10-18 Justice in the workplace is an example of showing the Christian way.
Luke 12:13-2 One's worth is not determined by how much one owns.


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