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Coordinator’s Message

Spotlight on Self-Development of People:
Introduction to February 2024 Focus newsletter

The Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson, Coordinator of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People, led a workshop discussion at the Summit. The Matthew 25 Summit’s second day was Jan. 17, 2024 at New Life Presbyterian Church in South Fulton, Georgia.

As we reflect and honor the contributions of many in Black History month, I am drawn to the powerful history of SDOP, a history of beginnings that were couched in the salient issues of the late 1960s well into the early ‘70s. Issues such as political unrest, poverty, racism, sexism, economic disenfranchisement and the need for repair were key issues that were integral to the formation of SDOP in what was then known as the United Presbyterian Church.  It is an understatement to say that we were formed in turbulent and revolutionary times of the Civil Rights era, but it is also equally safe to say that we were also forged in both hope and determination. Also, in reflection about the ministry of SDOP, I think about what we, the church, have learned and continue to learn from and through this work. I think about our community partners – our teachers – who have shown us what the profound work of anti-poverty looks like in our communities. Concomitantly, we as students of this work would like to do the same for you. As you look at the links provided here, we hope that it presents an opportunity for you to learn more about us and our community partners that engage in this profound work.
In exploring the links and stories in this month’s newsletter, we want you to pay attention to the stories of our incredible community partners provided in our SDOP Sunday Resource and Yearbook; there you also will find a plethora of information that will be helpful in interpreting the ministry of SDOP in your congregations. Utilize this resource in your bible studies, mission meetings, youth group meetings and create excitement about what God is doing in the ministry of SDOP. As many of us are still beaming from the excitement of the Matthew 25 Summit, let these links and stories continue to inspire you to take decisive action against poverty in your contexts.
As you continue to engage and learn more about the work of SDOP, remember these words from Civil Rights activist Ella Baker: “We who believe in freedom shall not rest until it comes.” People of faith, remember, supporting our community partners makes you a very important part of the fight against poverty and its enslaving and dehumanizing characteristics. I pray that these stories will inspire you not only to take a deeper dive in learning more about SDOP’s work, but I pray that it also inspires you to engage in the larger, intersectional work of poverty eradication – the “Good News” for the poor that Jesus brings and calls us to bring to all around us.

Rev. Dr. Alonzo T. Johnson, Coordinator
The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People.

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