From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Martyrs' Fund Account Shows Slightly

Date 04 May 1996 20:40:53


95464           Martyrs' Fund Account Shows Slightly 
                     over Six Thousand Dollars 
                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--A fund created last summer to assist the families of 
Presbyterians who die because of their ministries in other countries now 
holds $6,307.43, according to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation. 
     "It's probably the most active fund we've had in quite a while," said 
Tom Drake, the Foundation's associate for gift compliance.  "Gifts range 
from 20 to 300 dollars from individuals and churches." 
     He said some churches are taking up special offerings. 
     The fund was established by the 1995 General Assembly at the request 
of Baltimore Presbytery. Baltimore Presbytery will be adding another $1,000 
to the account, matching the Assembly offering which opened it. 
     The Assembly mandated that the first recipient of money be Maria 
Francisca Ventura de Saquic, 41, the widow of the Rev. Manuel Saquic, who 
was murdered last spring in Guatemala for his human rights work.  She is 
now supporting six children, ranging in age from 8 to 22, as well as a 
daughter-in-law and a two-year-old granddaughter. 
     "Probably Guatemala is not much different than other countries in the 
Third World," said Julia Ann Moffett, the Worldwide Ministries Division 
liason to Central America. "When a husband dies, there is no pension, no 
insurance; so the family, which has been supported by the husband, has to 
figure out how to hold itself together." 
     Moffett said it costs Guatemalan families about $100 each year to send 
one child to junior high in the public school system, $300, for high 
school, and $40 for elementary school.  The money goes for materials, 
public transportation and snacks.  Private schools cost three times as 
     She said the Presbyterian Church of Guatemala intends to pay to 
educate the Saquics' two oldest daughters at a church-related school.  Both 
girls are currently unenrolled, since they had to go into hiding after 
their father's murder. 
     The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports that 49 percent of 
Guatemala's population above the age of 15 is illiterate, according to 1989 
     Former General Assembly moderator Herb Valentine, Baltimore 
Presbytery's executive, says he came up with the idea of the Martyrs' Fund 
as a practical help for families who are in "desperate need of help 
financially ... just to carry them through." 
     Baltimore Presbytery has been sensitized to needs in Guatemala because 
of its partnership with Kaqchikel Presbytery there, Valentine said.  But 
similar atrocities go on all over the world, he added, and protest alone is 
an inadequate response.  "This is just tangible means to express the 
PC(U.S.A.)'s concern." 
     Income from the fund's principal will be dispensed under the direction 
of the Worldwide Ministries Division. 

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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