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Presbyterian churches commemorate SDOP Sunday on March 14

Annual event focuses on community development, with worship resources designed to help congregations celebrate the dignity and justice of work

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

The Church Sellers Assistance Program in Washington, D.C., is an SDOP-funded project. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Each year, on a Sunday during Lent, Presbyterians take a day to celebrate the mission and ministry of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP).

For more than 50 years, SDOP has helped economically poor, oppressed, and disadvantaged communities by establishing partnerships within those communities to address issues such as affordable housing/homelessness, food insecurity, living wage jobs, mass incarceration, labor and worker rights, and ending the exploitation of immigrants.

To amplify the work it does and its commitment to human dignity, justice and development in communities, SDOP has prepared resources to celebrate and recognize SDOP Sunday. March 14 is designated as SDOP Sunday in 2021, a day for congregations to commemorate the ministry and celebrate its work. The free, downloadable resource highlights inspiring community development stories and provides worship resources including a sermon, hymns, and guidance on including SDOP-related themes, speakers, and short videos that can be incorporated into your Sunday service.

“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. “We hope that through this resource people will get a sense of who we are and what we do, and be a part of our long-time commitment to addressing issues of poverty and disenfranchisement.  We encourage churches and ministry leaders to download and use some of the components of this resource in worship, Bible studies, Sunday school classes, youth group lessons and any other opportunity where we learn together and grow in Christ.”

Last year SDOP was set to mark its 50th anniversary with a celebration in Rochester, New York, the site of the 1970 General Assembly when SDOP was given its mandate. However, the safety protocols demanded by the pandemic forced that event to be postponed. Instead, SDOP decided to use the funds earmarked for the anniversary event to selflessly help their community partners do the work of justice and love despite the challenge presented by COVID-19. On Friday, March 12, SDOP is hosting a webinar that provides an opportunity to engage in community issues. To register or learn more, go to

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

“We’re working with our partners to lift up a myriad of issues that the SDOP ministry addresses,” said Johnson. “Communities matter, and that is why SDOP’s work is profoundly important and engaging. We get excited about our members and our work with our mid council committees who work tirelessly engaging in, and addressing, the issues that prevent communities from living lives of self-determination.”

Since its inception in 1970, SDOP has supported more than 5,600 community projects in 67 countries, totaling more than $100 million through grants to communities struggling with social justice and economic issues. Members of low-income groups in need of financial assistance seeking long-term positive change, or individuals interested in learning about jointly hosting webinars on topics such as poverty alleviation, homelessness/housing, community organizing, environmental justice, and immigration, are invited to email or visit the SDOP web page for more information.

Click here to learn more about SDOP’s funded partner projects.

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