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Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People opens national meeting

Four-day gathering to focus on renewed sense of vision

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE – Members of the national committee on the Self-Development of People (SDOP), are meeting in Miami this weekend to welcome new members, determine vision for the organization and seek spiritual renewal.

SDOP Coordinator, the Rev. Alonzo Johnson, says he’s hopeful attendees will come away from the meeting ready to hit the ground running.

“My hope is that committee members will have a renewed sense of vision and excitement to address some of the issues that we deal with and work to get people engaged with SDOP,” he said. “People need to know about the communities and organizations SDOP works with and how the work ties in with the goals and objectives of the church as a whole.”

Members of the Self-Development of People National Committee hold their first meeting of 2017 in Miami. Photo by Rick Jones.

For more than 46 years, SDOP has partnered with communities struggling with economic and social justice issues by providing grants to help them become self-sustainable. Since its inception, SDOP has awarded more than $100 million to communities around the world. More than 5,600 projects have received support in 67 countries.

Johnson believes this is a pivotal time for SDOP. “Who are we going to be in this new time? What are we called to do? It’s a new day, so I see this meeting as one that will help us determine who we are called to be for the future.”

“The challenge is awareness,” said SDOP National Committee Chair Rev. Rebecca Reyes. “Do Presbyterians know about our work? We need to be visible in our efforts to seek more participation. We also need a recommitment to the work and support of SDOP.”

The committee will be welcoming new members to the team. Johnson says he believes they’ll bring some fresh ideas to the table.

“They are all very committed to justice issues as well as walking and partnering with communities,” he said. “They like the vision and are eager to get connected with the work.”

The ministry grew out of the civil rights era in the United States in the late 1960s. As the nation struggled with the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., activists challenged the mainline denominations to step up and make a difference. The Presbyterian Church acted on the challenge by creating SDOP.

SDOP committee members say the ministry’s methods for engaging communities have worked well, allowing the community to best determine how grant funding should be used.

SDOP’s primary source of income is from the One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS), a special offering taken during Lent in Presbyterian congregations. Click here for more information on giving.

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