2018 New Year's Service

Update:January 11, 2018

The 2018 New Year's Service was held at the university chapel on January 10 (Wed).

The service conducted by Rev. Shoko Kitanaka began with a chorus of Hymn "Ring Out Wild Bells" by all those in attendance, and continued with a Scripture Reading of Psalm 37:5-6.

Following the Scripture Reading, President Junko Hibiya delivered her message.

Full text of President Hibiya's message is below.


Psalm 37: 5-6

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

A Happy New Year!

As of October 1st, 2017, students from fifty-three countries and regions are studying as undergraduate and graduate students at ICU. How did the first class look when the university welcomed them in 1953? According to the records, the class consisted of 171 students. They entered ICU from high schools in Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Fukushima, Gunma, Tochigi, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Niigata, Ishikawa, Nagano, Gifu, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Ehime, Kochi, Fukuoka, Saga, Oita, and an international school in Yokohama. In addition to those, there were five students from Hong Kong. They attended ICU on scholarships from the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia for the four-year course. These students' application forms, in the university files, are marked with an "UBCHEA" stamp. This program supported a total of 112 Hong Kong Chinese students until 1986. All of them worked extremely hard to earn a competitive scholarship in order to pursue higher education at ICU.

Last year, in January, on, the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the United Board, a commemorative volume entitled, "Turning Lives into Legends" was published. It includes stories and reflections from the alumni of this program. Meanwhile, in November, a special dinner to acknowledge and celebrate the success of the UB/ICU scholars was held in Hong Kong. I had the privilege of attending that reunion, along with Dr. Michael Gilligan, United Board Chair, Dr. Nancy Chapman, United Board President, Vice President Morimoto, ICU alumni residing in Hong Kong, and ICU exchange students currently studying in Hong Kong, among others. The scholars' testimony in the volume speaks eloquently that education at ICU opened numerous doors for them. The reunion dinner was a wonderful opportunity to meet some of those who wrote these essays in person and learn more about their experience. As the title of the volume vividly indicates, the scholarship changed every UB/ICU scholar's life. Many of them sought graduate education in North America, successfully completed their degrees, and have built their careers.

Today's Bible reading encourages us to trust in the Lord and commit our way to him. According to these verses, if we believe in his guidance and commit ourselves, the Lord will make our life that is regarded as righteous shine and we will lead a good life. Dr. Michael Gilligan wrote in his essay that, "some students perceived the scholarship as the hand of God, or fate, intervening in their lives." No matter how competitive the selection process was, however, being awarded the scholarship alone did not guarantee their success in the future. In fact, quite a few essays refer to the many hardships these scholars had to endure during their years at ICU. One of them was the one-year intensive Japanese, which was a shock to many of them because of its toughness. These patient scholarship recipients made every effort to overcome every difficulty they encountered, committing themselves to what the Lord had planned for them. It is these untiring efforts that have made the UB/ICU scholars they are today.

To be true to our international commitment, we have been revitalizing our recruitment of four year regular students from Hong Kong since we celebrated our sixtieth anniversary. The collaboration with the United Board and the UB/ICU scholars has been instrumental in this endeavor. We are strengthening similar recruitment programs in some other countries and regions. Today, I shared with you the stories of UB/ICU scholars who studied at ICU with the generous support of the United Board. As we start a new year, let us reaffirm the purpose and mission of the university, laid out at the university's foundation that students shall be selected from among those who seek to enter the university without regard to their race and nationality. Let us follow these scholars' path and live each day of the year by performing our tasks with our trust in Lord.

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