A church is a business with a religious mission. If the church chooses to incorporate, which most do in order to receive tax exemptions and other state and federal recognitions, then the corporate entity that the church has become must follow the policies associated with corporate status. In some states, corporations are required to design and keep on hand a unique seal to emboss official documents. Corporate seal embossers are similar in appearance to notary stamps. A church seal includes religious symbols and words significant to the specific church.
Brainstorm a list of symbols that are significant to your church. Do this on paper. Allow yourself (and your church's planning committee) to create a sizable list at this point. The idea is to get your creative wheels turning so that you create a seal that truly speaks to the message and mission of your church.
Choose two to four symbols to use. After carefully looking at all the possibilities, choose a very small number that best symbolize your church.
Open PhotoShop on your computer in order to manipulate images.
Draw a 1 1/2-inch circle using the circle tool in PhotoShop. All of the words and symbols in your seal need to be within this space when you finish. This circle is the outer boundary of your seal.
Import or draw the symbols that you want to use for your seal. You may be able to use clip-art files in PhotoShop or from the Internet, or you might have to build the graphics in another program.
Manipulate your graphics into the exact position and placement that you would like.
Add wording, as required by your state. Your state may require specific language on your seal. You will probably need to include your church's name, but you may also need to include its founding date and the state in which it operates. You will most likely add these words around the outer edge of your seal design.
Add decorative elements, like lines that separate the symbolic fields. This optional design step can influence the overall legibility of your seal.
Send the file to an online or brick-and-mortar custom stamp shop, which will be familiar with creating custom embossing tools. This will provide you with a seal to use for your documents.
Register your seal with your state, if required. Simply obtaining the seal isn't enough to meet the requirement. Make sure you have followed up with your state's paperwork.
Laura Britton is a graduate of Indiana University and a former English teacher. She is the managing editor of "The Balefire" magazine, and her work has appeared in several magazines and journals. Britton has been writing professionally for 10 years.