Yesterday was Founders Day at Seinan Gakuin, the school complex in Fukuoka City, Japan, where I taught for thirty-six years and also served as an administrator on various levels for many of those years. It was good to be present for the ceremonies in the morning and the luncheon that followed.
Baptist missionary C. K. Dozier was the primary founder of Seinan Gakuin. The school began in 1916 with just over 100 junior high school boys. Five years later the senior high school was started and the first permanent building was completed. The first floor of that building, pictured below in a snapshot taken yesterday, is now a museum of Seinan and Japanese Christian history, but the second floor is much as it was originally, an auditorium where chapel services have been held through the years and where the seminary chapel service are currently held.
Seinan Gakuin now consists of a university with over 8,000 students, including those in the graduate school programs, and a junior-senior high school with around 2,000 students. In addition, Maizuru Kindergarten and Samidori Day Nursery have also been a part of Seinan Gakuin through the years, and last month the Seinan Gakuin Elementary School was opened with 210 pupils in grades one through three.
During the eight years I had the privilege of serving as chancellor of Seinan Gakuin (1996-2004), I endeavored to get an elementary school started at Seinan, and even though the plan was approved by the trustees by the time my term was over, finally this year my dream, and that of many others, has become a reality. Here is a picture of the elementary school building which I took yesterday.
Baptist missionaries were an integral part of Seinan Gakuin from the beginning until 2004, except for a few years during World War II. Actually, the university was not founded until 1949, and Max Garrott served three years as the first university president and Luther Copeland served several months as the second president until the first Japanese president took office in November 1952.
There are three former Baptist missionaries now employed directly by Seinan Gakuin, and all three are serving in highly significant positions. Gary Barkley is now in his fourth year as president of the university, the first non-Japanese to serve in that position since Dr. Copeland in 1952. Lydia Barrow Hankins has served, and served well, for many years now as the chaplain of Seinan Gakuin, and Karen Schaffner, who has been a German teacher in the university for many years, began serving as administrative chaplain last month.
Just before C. K. Dozier passed away in 1933, his last words, spoken to his wife, were, “Tell Seinan to be true to Christ.” In time, “Seinan, Be True to Christ” became the motto for Seinan Gakuin. It was gratifying yesterday to see those words, in Japanese, prominently displayed in the entrance hall of the new elementary school building and to hear Chancellor Terazono, my successor, talking about the meaning and significance of those words.