[ >>Japanese ]
William G. Kroehler
Former President, Joshi Seigakuin Junior College
This wonderful new structure will be the chapel for Seigakuin University, and the church for Ryokusei Church here on the Ageo campus. We are extremely fortunate to be here today to participate in the dedication of the chapel and church building.
In 1967--37 years ago--Joshi Seigakuin Junior College was established here in Ageo. The buildings at that time consisted of only two buildings: three stories of the front half of building #1, and a dormitory that could accommodate 40 students on the site where Building #7 now stands. As the Junior College developed and grew, other buildings were built, and after the establishment of Seigakuin University in 1988, Building #3 was enlarged, and Buildings #5, #7 and #8 were added. And today, five years after Joshi Seigakuin Junior College was incorporated into Seigakuin University, we are celebrating the completion of the chapel and other facilities.
Today, I would like to think together with you about four persons who have passed on and aren’t here today, persons who have contributed to the development of the educational program on this campus. Quoting from the scripture read a few minutes ago, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This what the ancients were commended for.” The four persons I want to think about with you had a vision and contributed to the educational program here on this campus, including higher education, early childhood education, and continuing education for adults in the community.
First of all, I would like to think with you about ISHIKAWA, Kiyoshi-sensei. (Sensei a form of address that means teacher.) Ishikawa-sensei was a businessman who served as the head of the Pacific Ocean Cable Corporation, a Sumitomo company that laid the telephone cable lines between Japan and America. At that time Ishikawa-sensei was contributing to the cutting edge of technology and industry. Ishikawa-sensei served as Chairman of the Seigakuin Board of Directors from 1951 to 1979.
Joshi Seigakuin Junior College opened in 1967, and in the process of establishing the College, not everyone on the Seigakuin Board was in favor of this move. The Principal of Joshi Seigakuin High School, ODA, Nobundo-sensei and other members of the Board had a strong desire to establish the Junior College, and Ishikawa-sensei accepted their recommendation and moved forward with the plans. Ishikawa-sensei contribution here was very important.
Nine years after the establishment of the Junior College in 1976, Ishikawa-sensei took leadership in the establishment of Ryokusei Church. When this was proposed by Dr. OHKI, Hideo, at that time the pastor of Takinogawa Church. He talked with Ishikawa-sensei. Here again, Ishikawa-sensei immediately accepted the proposal, saying that one important goal in establishing the Junior College was the sharing the Christian Gospel with students and others in the community.
Again, two years later in 1978 when Midori Kindergarten was established, Ishikawa-sensei made the decision to go ahead in order to develop the Seigakuin School system and to share the Gospel. I believe that Ishikawa-sensei is looking down today from heaven and rejoicing with us in gratitude for this new chapel and church building.
Next, I would like to think with you about the Reverend CHIBA, Giichi. Chiba-sensei was the pastor of Takinogawa Church from 1939 to 1963. He also served as a member of the Seigakuin Board of Directors and even after his retirement he prayed for and worked for the Seigakuin Schools and Takinogawa Church. When Chiba-sensei died in November of 1975, Takinogawa Church decided to establish a Preaching Point which would lead to a new church to commemorate Chiba-sensei’s life of witness and service. This was the beginning of Ryokusei Church. Thereafter, when Joshi Seigakuin Junior College (and later Seigakuin University) held chapel services, a classroom was used, and the podium used in that classroom and for chapel services was given by Takinogawa Church as a memorial gift.
The third pioneer that I would like to think about together with you is FUKUDA, Sonoko-sensei. Very shortly after the establishment of Joshi Seigakuin Junior College, Fukuda-sensei became the dormitory mother, and served with complete commitment to the guidance and education of the students.
Fukuda-sensei urged the students to attend church services, but since there was no church in the near vicinity of the College, she asked the Chaplain and the President to hold services on Sunday afternoon or evening at the dormitory. When Ryokusei Church was established in 1976, she urged the students to attend services there.
At the same time, she looked forward to the time when there would be a chapel and a church on campus, and she and the students began to collect money. At the school festival, the students would hold a mini-bazaar and bank a portion of the proceeds in an account designated for the chapel. Furthermore, Fukuda-sensei urged the graduating students to make a contribution for the chapel fund out of their first months' salary when they were employed. Fukuda-sensei and the students also had the dream of having a stained glass window or windows in the chapel.
In March of 1992, the Junior College dormitory was closed down, and Fukuda-sensei was reassigned to provide guidance to students in the Career Support Center. Regrettably, she passed away of a sudden illness in May of that year.
I call to mind the fourth person, ODA, Nobundo-sensei. Oda-sensei was the Principal of Joshi Seigakuin Junior & Senior High School, and at that time he served as a member of a Ministry of Education advisory commission. At the recommendation of that commission, courses in Christianity and other religions were recognized as fulfilling the requirement for the compulsory courses in Moral Education. This was a significant contribution on the part of Oda-sensei.
In 1950, Oda-sensei went to the United States and made an appeal for financial assistance in order to establish a university. Regrettably, his appeal was not successful at that time, and he returned to Japan disappointed. He continued to work for the realization of that dream. In 1967, seventeen years after his trip to the United States, Joshi Seigakuin Junior College was established. Oda-sensei was the first President of the College.
Oda-sensei's vision included the construction of a chapel on the Ageo campus as well as the establishment of a church, and worked towards that end. Oda-sensei was selected as Chairman of the Board of Directors when Ishikawa-sensei retired in 1979 and served some six years in that capacity. Oda-sensei had seen the fulfillment of one of his dreams, the establishment of Ryokusei Church, but he died in 1985 before the establishment of the University, and of course before the construction of the chapel.
It can be said that these four pioneers had something in common with Abraham. “By faith Abraham when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8) “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
In addition to these four pioneers there were many others who prayed and gave their support, and today there is a Seigakuin University. We count it a blessing and are thankful that we are able to participate in this dedication ceremony today, but there is something I want to remember.
People with a vision do not always live to see that vision come to fruition. Today is the realization of a vision shared with those who have gone before, but it is also the beginning of the future. We all receive a call from God: “Therefore, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Please join me in prayer.
Our heavenly Father, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts that we have been able to have this dedication ceremony for Seigakuin University Chapel that also serves as the place of worship for Ryokusei Church. We earnestly pray that this chapel and the related facilities will show forth your glory, and that many students and others will encounter God here, and will be able to live a meaningful life. With thanks for the past, and a sense of responsibility for the present, we pray that you will bestow on us faith and hope for the future.
In Jesus' name we pray, Amen
[ >>Japanese ]