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Presbyterian churches commemorate Self-Development of People Sunday on April 2

Annual event focuses on helping communities, worship resources available for churches

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

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 nearly 50 years SDOP has helped poor, oppressed, and disadvantaged communities by establishing partnerships within those communities to address issues such as mass incarceration, labor and worker rights, clean water and natural resources, youth empowerment, and ending the exploitation of immigrants.

April 2 has been designated SDOP Sunday in 2017, and SDOP is providing resources for congregations to commemorate the ministry and celebrate its work. Since its inception in 1970, SDOP has provided support to more than 5,600 community projects in 67 countries, totaling more than $100 million. It provides grants to communities struggling with social justice and economic issues.

“Communities matter, and that is why SDOP’s work is profoundly important and engaging,” says Alonzo Johnson, coordinator for the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People. “We get excited about our members and our work with our mid-council SDOP committees, who work tirelessly engaging in the work of, and addressing the issues that prevent communities from living lives of self-determination.”

Recently, SDOP announced grants to fund four self-help projects in the U.S. They included a project designed to preserve and create housing for extremely low-income individuals and families in East Harlem and other areas of New York City; a women’s cooperative farmer’s association in Georgia that promotes locally grown farm products within the community; an organization of street vendors in Los Angeles that fights discrimination and policy abuse; and an Arizona worker center that seeks to train emerging leaders in leadership skills in order to combat wage theft and promote fair labor practices.

“Thanks to a grant from Self-Development of People we’re planning to establish a community market to help develop self-sufficiency among our members,” said Juan Rodriguez, coordinator and group member of the Popular Union of Street Vendors in Los Angeles. “We’re also planning workshops and training related to cooperatives and autonomy to strengthen leadership in our community.”

To learn more about its work, and its commitment to human dignity, justice and development in our communities, SDOP has prepared resources to celebrate and recognize SDOP Sunday. They offer inspired community development stories, worship resources including a sermon, hymns and guidance on including SDOP-related themes or speakers into your Sunday service.

“SDOP is about people investing in people,” Johnson notes. “That means we share in the work of making justice and hope real for all of us in our community. It’s why communities matter, because we’re all in it together.”

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SDOP’s primary income source is approximately one-third of the One Great Hour of Sharing special 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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