Pigs with a Purpose

Mitten is the first of what we hope will be many pigs popping up across the Southeastern Iowa Synod between now and the synod assembly in May. These will be pigs with a purpose…to reinforce that ours is an anti-hunger synod and to raise funds to fight hunger.

Here is how it works. Plywood cut-outs of pigs in the same shape as Mitten are available to any group or individual that will commit raising or contributing at least $500 toward anti-hunger efforts between now and the Southeastern Iowa Synod Assembly, May 19-20, 2017. Decorate your pig. Display it at your church or in your yard or wherever it is likely to get the attention of others who want to join the effort to fight hunger. And then send or bring the money you’ve committed to the synod assembly as part of a special offering to help end hunger.

To get started, contact Coco Lyons, Associate for Communication (lyons@seiasynod.org). She will help you get connected to your pig. And then enlist the aid of others (youth group, church choir, altar guild, family and/or friends) to decorate and to donate. $500 is “buy in” for a pig, but there is no limit to how much can be contributed. The more, the better. All funds will go directly to support ELCA World Hunger ministries or anti-hunger efforts within the synod.

Our hope is the people from every congregation in the synod will assist in this special effort to raise funds to fight hunger. This is not limited to acquiring your own pig with a purpose. Every gift of any size matters and will be welcomed into a synod-wide anti-hunger offering at the synod assembly. But the pigs can serve as a visible reminder of our commitment as they draw attention to the effort to feed the hungry and support people living in poverty.

By the way, Mitten got that name from Bishop Burk’s grandson, Noah. Mitten will be “attending” the synod assembly. It will be great to have lots of other colorful reminders at the assembly on full display. Between now and then, who knows where the Bishop’s Pig might show up.


Free Media

Before I was the synod communicator, I was a youth director with a degree in multimedia communications. That meant I was the go-to girl when it came to figuring out how to market/publicize/communicate any sort of information.

The biggest frustration I had when it came to trying to create eye-catching publications (posters, announcements, videos, graphics etc.) was I didn’t have the tools necessary to achieve the look I wanted.

The tools I used in college were too expensive for a small congregation’s budget, yet the free tools were clunky and outdated. I needed something that would allow me to create communication publications easily and that made it look good.

Below is a list of places you can go to create timely communication publications for your congregation.

Stock Photos/Images: pixabay.com

Royalty Free Music: bensound.com

Video: videvo.net

Fonts: fontsquirrel.com

Graphics: canva.com

If you have any questions or are in search of more resources please contact me by email at lyons@seiasynod.org.

*As always, be sure to fully read and understand the licensing on each piece of media you download.*

Coco is the associate for communications for the Southeastern Iowa Synod. Her passions include ministry and media with a side of photography and baking. An avid cat lover, Coco is from Waukon Iowa and graduated in 2015 with a communication arts degree from Wartburg College.

Lutheran Day on the Hill

Mark your calendars and plan to join a group of passionate advocates on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, for Lutheran Day on the Hill and make a difference for tens of thousands of Iowans. Your legislators want and need to hear from you about critical human services.

Lutheran Day on the Hill gives you the opportunity to share your voice with your legislators. As in years past, participants will be given information about important issues before the legislature and will be given suggestions about how best to visit with them concerning what is most important to you. The day will begin at 9:30 at Capitol Hill Lutheran Church before moving to the Statehouse.

Chartered buses offered at no cost to attendees will be stopping in Iowa City and Newton. Online registration will be available in mid-January. Additional information will be provided on that site.

This event has been made possible in part through a grant from ELCA World Hunger. Lutheran Services in Iowa is proud to be a partner in Lutheran Day on the Hill with the three Iowa Synods of the ELCA.

Video Ministry

Scrolling through my Facebook timeline all I see are videos!

One of the goals set when I started at the Office of the Bishop was to produce and utilize more videos in the church’s ministry both online and at events.

I’ve heard over and over how people shy away from making videos because they don’t have the budget or they don’t have the fancy expensive equipment. What if I told you all you needed was your cellphone?

That’s right, really all you need to start producing videos is your cellphone. Are they going to be Steven Speilberg quality, Oscar nominated films? No, probably not, but it’s a start. So take out your phones and keep reading.

Basic videography tips:

  1. HORIZONTAL video. One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating videos with their cellphone is they hold their cellphone vertically which creates a vertical video. Watch the video by clicking on this link (Vertical Video) about why vertical video is bad.
  2.  Leave room. Leave 3-4 seconds of silence at the beginning and end of the video so no part of the message is cut off.
  3. Comfort. Make sure the person who is on camera is comfortable being there. It is important to have someone comfortable there in order for the audience to feel connected to the video and the story.
  4. Start Small. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to make a long video or a super fancy video. Start small. Do a little introductory video introducing yourself to your followers. Or, shoot a video explaining a part of the worship service that many people may not know about. None of your videos have to be flashy, the idea is to reach out and share your congregation’s ministry and story with other people.

Video Ideas:

Sermon Sharing: Facebook live allows someone to hop on Facebook from either a church page or a personal page and record live what is happening in the world around them. Your church may not have proper licensing to livestream the entire service. This is a great way to still get the message out to your followers. This will allow you to save the video and it will stick around on your page so people can watch it at any time.

Weekly Readings: One pastor I worked with started posting the week’s Gospel reading every Wednesday as a way to get the congregation to begin to think about how it applies to their daily life. Another congregation I’ve heard about asked their military members who were stationed/deployed away from home to record themselves reading one of the week’s old or new testament readings. This allowed the congregation to connect with their members elsewhere.

Day in the Life: Ever wonder what your pastor, secretary, or youth worker does during the day? Ask them to record a small clip during each of their daily events, put them together and post them so everyone can see just what a pastor does all day.

Bible Story: Have your children’s ministry students pick out a favorite Bible story and act it out to be shown during worship.

These are really just the start of a long list of ways to incorporate video into your ministry. I encourage you to utilize the time and talent from within your congregation. Maybe a youth enjoys creative writing, have them write a script. If an adult has a knack for photography/videography ask the person to be the director/producer/videographer. Make your videos a team effort.


Coco Lyons is the associate for communications at the office of the bishop. Her passions include photography, videography and baking. A Wartburg grad, Lyons is an Iowa native who was born and raised in Waukon. She enjoys exploring off the beaten path with her camera in hand and likes to relax at home with her family and cat.