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Presbyterian churches commemorate SDOP Sunday April 7


Worship resources available to observe annual event

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson is coordinator of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Each year, on a Sunday during Lent, Presbyterian churches across the denomination turn their attention to people and communities in need — and take a day to celebrate the mission and ministry of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP). April 7 is Self-Development of People (SDOP) Sunday, an opportunity for congregations to focus on work to help disadvantaged people and low-income community groups.

SDOP is offering congregations a downloadable document that features worship resources, including a sermon, hymns, and guidance for including SDOP-related themes or speakers into a Sunday service.

“We are one of several ministries that benefit from the One Great Hour of Sharing. Our SDOP Sunday resource is essential in assisting the church with interpreting the work we do in engaging communities on the issues of poverty, economic equity and self-determination,” said the Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson, SDOP coordinator. “It’s a chance for churches to gain a better understanding of what we are about.”

The SDOP Sunday resource also features inspired community development stories for several national and international funded partners, including two women’s cooperatives in Belize, youth programs in the Dominican Republic and Detroit, a land trust in Puerto Rico, a tribal cultural preservation project in South Carolina that addresses food security issues and a project that advocates for undocumented residents in Rochester, New York.

“We’re working with our partners to lift up a myriad of issues that the SDOP ministry addresses,” said Johnson. “We hope that through this resource that people will get a sense of who we are, what we do and be a part of our long-time commitment to addressing issues of poverty and disenfranchisement.”

The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People began as a ministry in 1970 and now provides support to more than 5,700 community projects in the U.S. and around the world. Working with its national committee, 39 presbytery and three synod committees, SDOP provides grants to communities struggling with social justice and economic issues. More than $100 million has been distributed since its inception.

Johnson says the ministry gets to the heart of Matthew 25’s admonition to recognize Jesus in the plight of the poor. According to Johnson, SDOP also gets at the heart of what being a Presbyterian is all about. He encourages congregations to get involved in learning about and supporting the work.

“We want people to recognize our connection to the other and be a part of the long-term commitment in addressing poverty and living out the message of hope and the resurrection,” he said. “We especially want people to recognize Christ in the struggle and connect with those wrestling with poverty and disenfranchisement.”

Johnson added that SDOP finds its purpose in the Scripture and the ministry of Jesus Christ.

“Jesus had great love and concern for those on the margins. Matthew 25 reminds us that God through Jesus Christ finds both solidarity and partakes in advocacy with those who are vulnerable,” he said.

Johnson shared more thoughts on SDOP Sunday in this video posted to the SDOP Sunday website.

SDOP’s primary income source is approximately one-third of the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. It shares that offering with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Presbyterian Hunger Program. Individuals or congregations interested in getting involved with SDOP can give to One Great Hour of Sharing, contact SDOP about serving on a local or national committee, plan local community workshops focusing on the grant application process, or invite SDOP-funded project speakers to your church.

Members of low-income groups in need of financial assistance and who are working on important community issues seeking long-term positive change can contact SDOP at 502-569-5792 or visit the SDOP web page for more information.

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