Christmas Ornament

The Mizpah Gate is featured on a Christmas ornament being sold by Southwestern Adventist University.

This year, Southwestern Adventist University is introducing the first in a series of Christmas ornaments featuring buildings and structures from the SWAU campus. 

The ornaments celebrate the university’s history and will be given as gifts to individuals who commit to donate $250 or more. Each year, a new ornament will be added to the collection and will feature a different structure.

Currently, the university is holding a “Christmas in July” campaign which provides an opportunity for friends and family of SWAU to reserve their limited-edition Mizpah Gate ornament with a commitment of $25 per month.

“To me, the Mizpah Gate represents a sign of commitment not only to higher education but a commitment to use this education for the glory of God,” said Enrique Schmitt, senior finance major at SWAU.

The Mizpah Gate is known as the historic campus entrance and will be the first structure featured as a Christmas ornament for this ongoing series. 

The gate, located at the south entrance of campus, was originally a gift from the Class of 1937 of what was then called Southwestern Junior College.

It was designed by then University President Harry H. Hamilton, who oversaw its construction. The gate was constructed with petrified wood and built by students under the supervision of local workmen. The gate was marked as a Texas Historic Landmark in 2009.

“The Mizpah Gate is our oldest structure on campus and the symbol we use to represent our alum,” Director of Advancement Jonathan Seitz said. “It was the perfect structure to feature as the first of many in this collectable series. I am excited to be able to give this to our donors to say thank you for their generosity. 

“I also love the idea of all of us that love SWAU displaying memories on our Christmas tree together every year. My hope is that when we hang this Mizpah ornament in December we will remember what it represents and that God really is watching over us, especially in these uncertain times.”

The name Mizpah, which translated means “watchtower,” comes from the passage in Genesis 31:49, known as The Mizpah Prayer: “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.” The name serves as a reminder that God watches over students, faculty, staff and alumni whether they are on campus or far away. 

“Honestly, as a student, I didn’t spend much time thinking about the symbolism of the Mizpah Gate and what it represents,” said Michael Agee, Southwestern Union College alum and SWAU Department of Communication Chair. “As an older alum, and now a faculty member, I have come to think of the gate as a symbol of the life-changing work done every day on campus. 

“The faculty and students I encountered here 40-plus years ago altered the trajectory of my life significantly. I am a different person now because of the relationships built here at SWAU. 

“Now, as a faculty member, I am blessed to be able to build relationships with another generation of young people; young people I have come to love almost as much as my own sons. 

“My daily prayer is that he give me the words and opportunities to nudge my ‘kids’ along the course He has planned for their lives. ‘The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another’ has a much deeper meaning for me now as I send my kids off into the world.” 

The Mizpah Gate continues to symbolize the university’s commitment to Christ centered education. The generosity of donors who share in this mission is greatly appreciated. 

To learn more about the “Christmas in July” campaign and to reserve your ornament, visit swau.edu/ornament.

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