During the last 2½ years, I served as the PC(USA) representative on the Bi-national Walton Funds Committee. This wasn’t a role that was originally a part of our assignment in Guatemala. Nonetheless, at the time the committee was facing a crisis of purpose, and was struggling to find ways to respond to cries for Presbyterian theological training in indigenous presbyteries. Now I’ve stepped down from the committee to make room for Richard and Debbie Welch, new PC(USA) mission co-workers who’ve come to Guatemala to work specifically with this committee. I wish them the very best as they begin their assignment in this important area of God’s mission. My involvement on the Bi-national Committee has been both a difficult and rewarding experience, but in the end I’m glad that I had the opportunity to contribute what I could. Most of all, I’m thankful for the ways that diverse groups within the IENPG have successfully joined together to extend educational opportunities to the most marginalized segments of the Presbyterian Church.
Bi-national Committee members recently reported to IENPG leaders on the work that’s been done during the last two years, as well as unfinished business. Here’s the summary that they offered.
Accomplishments of the Committee:
- Obtained clarifification that there are no proposed changes in the legal status of the Walton Funds.
- Reorganized the Bi-national Committee with more representation from educational institutions, indigenous groups, and other sectors of the IENPG. The membership increased from five to thirteen.
- Facilitated the formation of a new Presbyterian theological education program in Cobán for Q’eqchi’, Poqomchí, and Ixil students, with participation by IENPG committees and the Q’eqchi’ presbyteries.
- Restored the scholarship program for indigenous secondary students at the La Patria Norte School.
- Spearheaded the writing of a new job description for PC(USA) mission co-workers that work with the Walton Funds.
- Crafted the Comprehensive Plan for the Walton Funds, with guidelines and strategies for achieving the unfreezing of the funds.
- Reached agreement with World Mission and the Presbyterian Foundation of the PC(USA) to begin releasing Walton Funds according to the Comprehensive Plan.
- Reached agreement with the PC(USA) for four theological education projects for the Q’eqchi’, Q’anjob’al, Maya Quiché, and Mam presbyteries.
- Up-date the Comprehensive Plan to include all theological education projects, to revise the secondary scholarship program, and to make adjustments to the plan’s timeline.
- Develop and initiate the middle school studies project for pastors and leaders of the indigenous presbyteries.
- Delineate fair and collaborative procedures by which the IENPG and the PC(USA) will monitor projects that use Walton Funds, authorize changes in projects, and approve new projects.
- Propose a plan to gain legal approval for accumulated Walton funds to be used in building the Theological Center at the Presbyterian Complex in Cobán.