From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 12:58:59


                         By Julian Shipp 
CHICAGO--Artists often make sacrifices for their art, but many of the 
exhibitors at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Self-Development of People 
(SDOP) crafts room suffered before they became artists. 
      More than 10 artisans from around the world sold their wares and 
shared their experiences with convocation participants at the new SDOP 
exhibit April 22. 
     One exhibitor was Charlie Fairley, who sold colorful T-shirts. 
Fairley is vice-president of Jesus People Against Pollution (JPAP), a 
community-based, nonsectarian environmental justice organization formed in 
1992 in Columbia, Miss. JPAP was organized in response to the exclusion of 
the community from federal Superfund cleanup efforts following a chemical 
plant explosion in the late  70s. 
to Fairley, the Reichhold Chemical Plant, located in the midst of a 
low-income African- American and white community, exploded and burned in 
1977. The fire destroyed the plant but left behind more than 4,500 drums of 
chemicals that were subsequently buried in an 81-acre field at the plant 
site or abandoned on flats at ground level. 
     Fairley said the drums leaked, allowing chemicals to seep into the 
soil. Although most of the drums were not removed until Superfund efforts 
began years later, others have been discovered recently.  Despite 
Environmental Protection Agency efforts, subsequent floods spread the 
toxins into surrounding farmland, rivers, swimming holes and streets, 
according to Fairley. 
     "We believe that the drinking water supply has been and is being 
poisoned," Fairley said, adding he believes federal and state officials 
participated in a cover-up that prevented residents from knowing the danger 
they are in from the toxins they have breathed and ingested over the years. 
     Fairley said an SDOP grant of $39,000 last year has significantly 
boosted JPAP's fund-raising and promotional capabilities. 
     "I think [SDOP] is great," Fairley said. "I just wish more churches 
would take the time to get involved in something like this because this is 
really something that helps people all over the world."  
     Also appearing in the crafts room was The Little Indian Store of 
Durant, Okla. According to Shirley Barboan, director of public relations 
for The Little Indian Store, most members of this group of Native American 
craftspeople are women who are the sole supporters of their families and 
live on low, limited or no income.  
     These women, many of whom are mothers, are unable to obtain regular 
jobs due to the lack of formal education. Barboan said the opening of the 
store, which has received $45,000 in national and synod-level SDOP grants, 
has provided members the chance to give something back to the community. 
     Moreover, Barboan said, the store has given members the opportunity to 
achieve self-respect, support their families without financial assistance 
from the Department of Human Services and take pride in their work. 
     Store items include Native American jewelry, beads, dolls, pottery and 
other handcrafted merchandise.  
     "For our first project we received a contract with the state 
department of tourism in Oklahoma," Barboan said. "We furnish the beadwork 
for the [state] resorts and everything and things are really going well." 
     From the cover art on the program brochures by artist Delorez Mayhand 
Walls to the buttons worn by convocation participants, art was used 
extensively to commemorate the Presbyterian Church's SDOP ministry. 
     For example, the centerpieces placed on the dinner tables during the 
convocation banquet and given away at random following the meal were 
designed and created by artists of Harrison Hills Cottage Industries in 
Cadiz, Ohio. 
     According to Marjorie W. Hesler, an SDOP Committee member from 
Montezuma, Ind., the handcrafted centerpieces, which depicted figures 
suspended above papier-mache models of the earth, reflected the artist's 
interpretation of the convocation theme, "A Journey to Justice." 
     Deborah Harrison, senior administrative assistant in the Worldwide 
Ministries Division and crafts room co-coordinator, said the SDOP crafts 
room was designed to serve a dual purpose.  
     "This is a way of letting the artists show their crafts and mingle 
with the people who helped fund their projects," Harrison said. "It also 
allows people to see where the One Great Hour of Sharing money is going."      
     Others crafts groups at the exhibit were Los Siete of Chimayo, N.M.; 
Morris Fork Crafts of Booneville, Ky.; We Care Arts of Dayton, Ohio; 
Committee of Craftswomen of La Perlita, Peru; Artisans of Uc'ux Kem 
Cooperative of Guatemala; Palestinian Needlework and Olive Wood of 
Palestine; and the Committee of Artisan Fisherman of Huaura, Peru. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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