In the summer of 2015 Peace Lutheran Church in West Burlington had a barnyard in their church building. As a rural congregation the parishioners were no strangers to dealing with lots of animals. The “Passel of Pigs” project soon had forty-one pigs in their church barnyard. They constructed a barn and some fencing to keep all the pigs contained and during a service they even brought the pigs into the sanctuary in a wheelbarrow for a blessing.
The pigs kept by Peace Lutheran weren’t real pigs of course, they were cardboard piggy banks shaped like pigs. The cardboard pigs were stored in a little barnyard and transported by wheelbarrow as the children and families of Peace Lutheran Church filled them. Their motivation was from the Gospel of Luke, “Go and do likewise – and -until all are fed.” Pastor Kathleen Wohlers notes
“At Peace Lutheran Church, I talk with the children and in my sermons, that we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ in our world – so using that text from Luke and the ELCA tag line of ‘God’s Work, our Hands,’ I then presented the project through the children’s sermon, introducing it using the nursery rhyme “This Little Piggy went to Market with a pink pig hand puppet. The children then passed out the pink piggy banks to everyone in worship.”
These piggy banks were one way the congregation participated in the ELCA Good Gifts program through ELCA World Hunger. For just $30 they were able to provide a piglet to a family in need in the developing world. When that pig grows up it can provide as many as 16 new piglets each year. These pigs can provide valuable income, food, and fertilizer to the families they benefit. Peace Lutheran was able to provide 41 of these piglets throughout the course of the project. Commenting on the success of the project Pastor Wohlers said, “ ‘The response was wonderful!’ I heard comments such as, ‘this is something we can understand’ – and over and over again the question was asked, ‘How many pigs do we have this week?’ A number of people came back for a second pig bank.”
Peace Lutheran Church celebrated the success with a piggy party that included a congregation breakfast, which had bacon, ham, and sausage and cookies decorated like pigs. Once the project has finished the question in the congregation became not what happened with their pigs but “What are we doing next?”
For more Advent ideas and inspiration check out the ELCA good gifts website to see projects and ideas you can do at home or in your congregation to benefit ELCA World Hunger this holiday season.