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Volunteer celebrates nearly 50 years of opportunity-giving ministry

Larry Low inspired by organizations Self-Development of People supports

by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

SDOP Committee Member Larry Low (second from left) participates in a worship gathering. (Photo by SDOP)

LOUISVILLE – For almost a half century, Larry Low has been helping people and communities to become resilient. Ordained to the ministry in 1973, the retired social worker from Seattle has found purpose working through the Committee on the Self-Development of People.

“I got involved with SDOP at the local level and have been active with the ministry since then,” said Low. “Now that I’m retired, I can travel as needed. It’s been a gratifying experience because I get to see where the dollars go and organizations we’ve helped.”

SDOP works with its ecumenical partners to help small businesses and organizations, both domestic and international, to become self-sustaining, providing opportunities for those living in poverty to support themselves.

“I became interested in working with people who had problems starting their own businesses, whether through lack of funding or expertise,” said Low. “I began working with a local SDOP committee in Seattle and met people who had a desire to pull themselves out of poverty and make it on their own.”

For the past four years, Low has served on the national committee. One of the major milestones in this effort, according to Low, is connecting small business owners with the church.

“SDOP’s national committee receives a number of requests for support from church members or clergy and I think that’s one of the biggest accomplishments that make this program work, giving people an opportunity to get to know the church,” he said. “It truly helps to break down barriers between churches and the community.”

Low says his presbytery has been working for 20 years to connect inner city churches with suburban churches and the success speaks for itself.

“There are people in our city who spent time in prison, who are now roasting and selling coffee to other churches,” he said. “It’s not easy but they are working and are hopeful for the future.”

The Rev. Alonzo Johnson, SDOP coordinator, says Low embodies the meaning of engagement and capacity building.

“Larry’s acumen around social justice and development issues makes him an incredible resource for SDOP’s life and work,” he said. “It is exciting to work directly with Larry as his experience and tactile work inspires all to engage in the important and transformative work of SDOP.”

Low has some advice for churches who may be interested in connecting with SDOP and its work. “Start with one thing and don’t try to do everything at one time. Get a contact and introduce church members and these local businesses in an informal way. I think a lot of churches try to do too much. Concentrate on one thing at a time,” Low said.


The work of Self-Development of People is made possible by gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.

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