Partnership Profile – Lancaster Theological Seminary

A Promise, a Connection, and a Word of Thanks

Gratitude refers to a feeling of thankfulness and the readiness to show appreciation for others. In the business and nonprofit world, saying “thank you” to those who impact the health of your organization is a natural extension of doing business, and many entities show their appreciation during the holiday season. The Lancaster Theological Seminary, a nonprofit graduate school of theology, chooses to express their gratitude at the end of the holiday season to supporters of the Seminary and celebrate the Epiphany at the same time.

The Lancaster Theological Seminary began sending Epiphany cards to friends and donors in 2003. The Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated on January 6, commemorates the coming of the three magi, or priests, who bring gifts to honor the infant Jesus. As described in the Gospel of Matthew, the magi brought gifts that symbolize Christ’s promise: gold as a symbol of God’s hope, frankincense as a gift of faith, and myrrh as a gift of love.

The Lancaster Theological Seminary’s Epiphany cards often feature artwork from local artists who are connected to the Seminary. The design for this year’s Epiphany card commemorates the connection between the Seminary and Tohoku Gakuin University in Sendai, Japan. Ties between the University and Seminary were established in the late 1800s, when Lancaster Seminary missionaries established a Christian school in Sendai. The school expanded to become Tohoku Gakuin University and Miyagi Gakuin Women’s College. The relationship between these two institutions is celebrated in two stained glass windows in the Seminary’s historic Santee Chapel. The windows, designed in 1925, depict Mt. Fuji and the sacred Torii gate.

The goal was to spotlight the stained glass windows while creating a keepsake for Seminary friends. According to Meg Graham, director of marketing and communications for Lancaster Theological Seminary, “… the finished piece allowed for light to shine through the windows, bringing to life the excerpt from the Gospel of John: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’” Graham noted that the mailing received terrific feedback, and several recipients hung their cards in a window like a suncatcher.

The Epiphany card not only received accolades from the Seminary, but it also earned a Franklin Award of Excellence for Miscellaneous category from the Graphic Arts Associations. The Award is presented as competitive evidence of outstanding quality and craftsmanship by a panel of graphic communications experts who represent the exacting details of the Neographics Award presentation.