Pope Francis and his growing litany of modern-day martyrs

Posted on April 21, 2015 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

By Elise Harris

Vatican City, Apr 21, 2015 / 09:54 am (CNA/EWTN News). – Amid a torrent of recent news reports on persecuted Christians, Pope Francis reflected on those killed for their faith and said that these modern “Stephens” suffer as the Church’s first martyr did.

“The Church today is a Church of martyrs: they suffer, they give their lives and we receive the blessing of God for their witness,” Francis told attendees of his April 21 Mass, held in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse.

“In these days how many Stephens there are in the world!” he said, referring to the first apostle who was killed for proclaiming Jesus Christ, and is hailed as the Church’s first martyr.

“Let us think of our brothers whose throats were slit on the beach in Libya; let’s think of the young boy who was burnt alive by his companions because he was a Christian,” Francis said.

He also brought to mind “those migrants thrown from their boat into the open sea by other migrants because they were Christians; let us think – just the day before yesterday – of those Ethiopians assassinated because they were Christians…and of many others.”

The Pope also called attention to the many Christians suffering silently inside jail cells just because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

Among them is Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who in 2010 was convicted of violating Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, an allegation she denies. Her husband and daughter traveled to Rome last week, where they met with Pope Francis and received his blessing during his Wednesday general audience.

In February the Islamic State released a video depicting the decapitation of 20 Coptic Christians after they had gone missing near the coastal city of Surt, also known as Sirte, in Libya.

On Sunday another video was released by social media accounts associated with the ISIS showing the mass executions of Ethiopian Christians in Libya.

In an April 20 message sent to Abuna Matthias, patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, Francis offered condolences and said that “It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant…Their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ!”

The Pope’s comment on the Christian boy burned alive referred to a 14-year-old Pakistani named Nouman Masih, who passed away April 15 after being set on fire by two unknown men. After inquiring about his religion, the men doused Masih in kerosene and set him alight.

April 16 marks the day that another tragedy on Francis’ list took place when 12 passengers on a migrant boat traveling from Libya to Italy were thrown overboard by fellow migrants for being Christians.

Reports indicate that a disagreement sparked among passengers on a rubber boat bound for Italy and carrying 105 people, during which 15 Muslim passengers threatened to abandon at sea the Christians, who came from Nigeria and Ghana, based on their faith.

After a fight broke out 12 of the Christians were thrown overboard to their deaths, while others survived the attack by resisting the drowning attempt and forming a human chain. The Italian coast guard has arrested 15 people in association with the attack.

In his homily Tuesday, Pope Francis said that “the true history of the Church is that of the Saints and the martyrs.”

He recalled how the Apostle Stephan had to deal with false witnesses and the anger of those accusing him.

Stephan, the Pope noted, reminded the elders and scribes how their ancestors had persecuted other prophets, and when he described his vision of the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God they didn’t want to hear it, so they threw him out of the city and stoned him.

“God’s Word is always rejected by some. God’s Word is inconvenient when you have a stone heart, when you have a pagan heart,” he said.

Francis noted how the whole history of Revelation is marked by the many martyrs who have been killed “for their faith and loyalty towards God’s Word, God’s Truth.”

He closed his homily by pointing out that there are also many “hidden martyrs,” who are the faithful men and women that listen to the voice of God and look for new ways to help their brothers and sisters love the Lord.

These people, the Pope said, are often viewed with suspicion, vilified and persecuted by the modern “Sanhedrin’s” who think they possess the truth.

How to Use a Style Sheet

Posted on October 1, 2014 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Style sheet? What’s a style sheet?

A style sheet is a set of criteria defining the layout and appearance of a publication. Style sheets impose margins, fonts, point sizes, alignments, and other criteria to give text a uniform appearance. It includes rules for using artwork and conventions for specifying names, titles, places, numbers, dates, times, etc. Anyone responsible for your organization’s internal and external communications and anyone who contributes to your publication should receive a copy of your style sheet.

What follows is a sample style sheet for a fictitious organization:


The Community of Like-minded People

Please follow these guidelines when creating your publication. We are trying to create a uniform, professional look with all our printed materials.

Approved fonts:

  • Main headings, Times New Roman, 22 point
  • Sub headings, Arial Bold, 14 point
  • Body copy, Times New Roman, 10 point
  • The alternative font for styled headings or body copy is Verdana. Use it for text with our approved logo. Verdana should be used very sparingly. It can be any point size

Clip art:

  • Our approved logo
  • Please contact the main office for a camera-ready or a digitized copy of the logo
  • Please obtain reprint rights for any copyrighted materials
  • Please obtain release…

Usage:

  • Main headings, left aligned, ragged right
  • Sub headings, left aligned, ragged right
  • Body copy, left aligned, ragged right
  • Times should be specified in the following format: 9:00 am, 10:00 pm, 1:30-2:00 pm
  • No abbreviations may be used anywhere in the publication
  • Acronyms are permitted

Other issues:

  • The formal name of the organization is “The Community of Like-minded People.” In the first reference the full name is preferred. In subsequent references, the name may be shortened to “The Community” or alternatively “Our Community”
  • Do NOT underline or use ALL CAPS
  • Always use the area code when specifying telephone numbers. Telephone numbers should be specified in the following format: 999-999-9999
  • Spell-check and proofread all copy before submission

These guidelines are subject to periodic review and change. Please contact the main office for the most current style sheet.

Date published or revised


Using a style sheet ensures that all your publications conform to your organization’s custom identity.

Seven Tips for Building a Better Bulletin

Posted on July 3, 2014 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Bulletin Cover1. Use boxes sparingly: Cluttering a bulletin with lines and boxes makes it difficult for your parishioners to know where to look. Keep lines to a minimum and separate content with color or white space. Try adding images to help illustrate the content allowing for a more attractive, clean layout.

2. Use white space: It is a design element that is often overlooked by editors, who strive to fill every bulletin with as much information as possible. Cramming the publication full of content can overwhelm parishioners and potentially discourage them from reading. Paring down the text is like clearing the aisles. Cutting some content will greatly improve the overall look and organization of the publication, making it easier to navigate, which should in turn encourage reading.

3. Avoid underlining: The practice of underlining dates back to the days of the typewriter, when it was used to emphasize text because typewriters lacked bold and italic styles. It is unnecessary in today’s age of modern technology. In addition, underlining is confusing for your readers because Web addresses are typically underlined. Text with a line underneath makes the words appear to be hyperlinks in print. Keep in mind that most professional publications such as books, magazines, and newspapers tend to avoid underlining, so it is wise to follow this best practice.

4. Make sure your text doesn’t get lost: Using dark texts on dark backgrounds makes them difficult to read especially for older individuals. Try using a lighter background or using white text with darker backgrounds. A general rule of thumb is that the background color should be only 30% tint or less to ensure it is light enough that text can be read. When inverting your text (white text on a dark background), make sure your background color is at least an 85% tint so it is dark enough to provide contrast for the white text.

5. Stick to 3 Fonts or Fewer: Multiple fonts can make a publication look messy and unprofessional. Stick to three or fewer styles for a more cohesive, appealing look. As the saying goes, everything in moderation. The key is not to overuse any one technique.

6. Use Better Images: Images found through search engines like Google and Bing are often copyrighted and using them without written permission is illegal. These images are also often low resolution and so appear low quality when printed. For higher quality images that will print beautifully, we would encourage you to use LPi’s Art & Media Portal or a stock photo website like istockphoto.com.

7. Provide new, relevant content: Recycling the same material from week-to-week discourages parishioners from reading the bulletin. Move this kind of static content to your website and direct readers there instead. This will free up room for more dynamic, interesting, articles within the bulletin to engage your parishioners.

Get Inspired!

Posted on June 13, 2014 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Creativity can be very elusive, especially when you are working on a deadline and need an idea as soon as possible!  Many of the world’s greatest thinkers developed unusual habits in an effort to spark their minds.  Maya Angelou made hotel rooms her workspace of choice, while Igor Stravinski got his innovative juices flowing by standing on his head.

Thanks to LPi’s Art & Media Portal, inspiration is only a click away. Log in to your account and then click here for an assortment of beautiful typographical art to suit any publication.

Here are some ideas for putting that inspirational content to use in bulletins, newsletters, and social networks:

Inspirational PerformationBulletins

Typographic artwork can serve as a permanent staple within your bulletin or used when needed.

  • Use as a Banner or Heading: Combine inspirational art with other content to create bulletin banners.
  • Place on a Perforated Page: Readers can tear out a new inspiration each week to post on their refrigerator or bulletin board.

 

 

 

Inspirational CalendarNewsletters

  • Article Inspirations: Use inspiring images to help springboard inspiring articles.
  • Place an image on your calendar as a monthly reflection

 

 

 

 

 

Social Networks

  • Pin image to your boards
  • Use as a Facebook cover photo on profile picture
    Inspirational Facebook

Now that you have some inspiration to work with, it is time to get started. How else can you imagine using these images?  Please share your ideas in the comments.

 

Newsletter Design Trends: How to Find Your Style

Posted on January 14, 2014 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

All newsletters share a common purpose of communicating a message to a targeted group of people.  The type of information and reason for presenting it will vary, however, because every newsletter is unique.  For instance, the goal could be to build brand awareness, increase an organization’s membership base, educate readers, garner donations, etc.  Regardless of the intention, most publications fit into one of several distinct style categories.

Here are the most common types of newsletter designs:

Covers

Cover Styles One

Inside Pages

Inside-Pages 2

Which style is best for your organization?

Bulletin editors who read other posts will be familiar with some of the following tips, however there are several other considerations to keep in mind when designing a newsletter.

  • When choosing a layout, first and foremost, consider the amount and type of content necessary.  If there is a lot of important information that must be included, use a design that keeps the text clear and readable. If certain articles are a priority, be sure to place them towards the beginning, and set them apart with graphic elements or white space.
  • Next, think about the culture of your organization, and the target audience.  The design should reflect the values and interests of both parties.  If unsure what style is most appealing to your readers, perhaps take a poll and/or ask for suggestions.
  • How is your newsletter distributed?  Mailed, picked up, downloaded online, or emailed?  The method in which the reader receives and views the publication should influence design decisions. For instance, if readers prefer to read your newsletter online instead of receiving a hard copy, it is helpful to use attention-grabbing graphics and colors to keep them interested and prevent unsubscribing.  If the publication is a mailer, it will likely be quarter-folded, with the back page on the outside being the first thing that readers see. Therefore, any logos or branding should be prominent on the back cover, and you may want to place the most important article and/or table of contents there as well.
  • Finally, consider your technical abilities.  As an editor, you are responsible for working within a regular deadline to gather articles and assemble them within your template.  Be honest with yourself about your comfort level in using a more advanced layout, which may include grouped images, master pages, various font styles, tabs, etc.  With practice you will become a pro, but if you feel stressed at the thought, perhaps a simple, traditional layout would be a better starting point.  You can always redesign the publication at a later date once you feel ready to take on a new challenge.

Remember that there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to newsletter design.  Any of the above options can be transformed to fit your needs!

Bulletin Design Trends: How to Find Your Style

Posted on December 11, 2013 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Every publication is unique, but there are several different styles commonly used for bulletin layout.

Covers

Bulletin Covers One

Inside Pages

Bulletin Pages Two

Which style is best for your church?

When choosing a layout, first and foremost, consider the amount and type of content necessary.  Is there a lot of important information that must be included?  Choose a design that keeps the text clear and readable. On the other hand, if you have room to spare, you will probably have more flexibility in your bulletin’s design.

Next, think about your organization’s culture.  Is the parish conservative and conscious of tradition?  Or is the church progressive and up-to-date with current trends?  Perhaps your congregation falls somewhere in the middle?  The design should reflect your parish values and interests.

Third, consider your technical abilities.  As an editor, you are responsible for working within a regular deadline to gather articles and assemble them within your template.  Be honest with yourself about your comfort level in using a more advanced layout, which may include grouped images, master pages, various font styles, tabs, etc.  With practice you will become a pro, but if you feel stressed at the thought, perhaps a simple, traditional layout would be a better starting point.  You can always redesign the publication at a later date once you feel ready to take on a new challenge.

Finally, remember that there is no right or wrong choice when it comes to bulletin design.  Any of the above options can be transformed to fit your needs!

 

Logo Design Tips

Posted on July 31, 2013 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Logos are not just for global brands like Apple and Starbucks. They are a powerful tool for any organization aiming to differentiate itself and establish a loyal following. A logo can give religious institutions a recognizable identity that represents the core values and mission of the congregation. What makes a good logo?

Simplicity

There are several reasons why a logo should be relatively simple. Imagine viewing it from afar, perhaps on a sign. It should be clear from a distance. Alternatively, it must be readable at a reduced size, for instance on an envelope or business card. Keep in mind that complex elements may become lost at a smaller size. Finally, simpler designs are more memorable and therefore easier for patrons to recall and identify the organization associated with the logo.

Appropriate Colors

Logo colors should be evaluated and selected carefully, as they lend meaning and symbolism to the organization they represent. Colors can influence emotions and convey various messages depending on the viewer’s culture. In general, bright colors are considered upbeat and friendly, while darker colors are seen as more serious and professional. The logo should also have enough color contrast to be effectively made black and white when necessary (for example, when faxed) without losing important design elements.

Timelessness

Trends come and go, but a great logo should withstand the test of time indefinitely. Avoid designs that might go out of style in order to avoid the need to rebrand the organization too soon.

Unique Design

Steer away from generic logos. Certain trends, although visually appealing, are often overused and end up becoming cliché. Crowdspring has several great examples of unoriginal logos in their post on “Overused, Overdone Logo Concepts.”

Consider what sets your organization apart from the rest. What is your mission? Are there any distinctive architectural elements, or nearby geographical landmarks such as lakes or bridges? Include those unique elements in the logo in order to make it your own.

Church Logo Examples

Below are several great examples of LPi customer logos.

Logos

Logo Usage Suggestions

The logo should be used on all printed communication materials including letterhead, bulletins, flyers, directories and newsletters.  It should also be included in outdoor signage.  Don’t forget to place it online as well; logos must be prominently visible on websites, social media pages and email signatures.

Keep the logo consistent by developing a style guide with directions for proper use to ensure it remains the correct colors and does not become distorted or altered in a way that makes it unrecognizable.

Next Steps

Ready to develop your own logo?  Don’t forget that graphic design services are free for LPi customers.  Feel free to contact one of our designers to get started today.

Spring Cleaning Your Bulletin

Posted on March 11, 2013 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Spring CleaningSpring is here and it’s time to spruce up your home, get rid of clutter, and get things organized. This year, take your spring cleaning beyond your home and yard and take a fresh look at your bulletin.

Consider these tips for breathing new life into your bulletin:

  • If it’s no longer working, throw it out: Whether it’s a burnt-out computer or a vacuum cleaner with no air flow, we all own things that are no longer useful. Look through your bulletin from the cover to the last page and see if there are items that are outdated, no longer relevant, or just plain don’t belong.
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  • Get rid of duplicates: When you’re reviewing your bulletin, you might find several items that do or say the same thing. Do you really need a staff directory on the cover and on the inside pages? Removing it from the cover can free up space for a fresh photo or cover. Always look for ways to diversify your information and get your readers attention.
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  • Put things back in order: Over time spaces in your home can get “out of balance.” So many chairs pile up in your kitchen that you can’t cook. Your new giant flat-screen TV covers up your family pictures. Simple organization can usually get things back in order. Do this with to your bulletin. Maybe all of  your articles look exactly the same. Try placing an article across the whole bottom of the page instead of just two columns running up and down every page. Shift some articles around, use new images to break up text, and get things back in balance.
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  • Design a new cover: A new bulletin cover is a great way to breathe new life into your bulletin and encourage parishioners to take a closer look. If you need assistance with creating a new look, contact LPi and our designers would love to help.

Spring cleaning really does put a smile on your face. Isn’t it time for a fresh new look for your bulletin? Giving your bulletin an annual spring cleaning, ensures it reflects the current needs of your church community and you won’t even have to get your hands dirty.