ICU Founder's Day Commemorative Service

Update: June 22, 2021

A service to commemorate ICU's founding was held at the University Chapel on June 16 (Wed.).

The service is held every year in remembrance of the day when the university was officially established at a meeting of the organizing council of Japanese and North American Christian leaders who gathered at YMCA Tozan-so in Gotemba, Shizuoka Prefecture, on June 15, 1949. On the same day, the Board of Councilors and the Board of Trustees were inaugurated, and the founding principles as well as a fundamental education plan were laid down.
For the ceremony, we avoided a dense hall and refrained from singing hymns in order to prevent coronavirus infection.

At the service presided over by Rev. Shoko Kitanaka, Hymn 234 (A) "Long Years Ago Our Saviour" was played and the 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 was read. President Shoichiro Iwakiri delivered a message titled "As You Have Made Up Your Mind."

Message by Shoichiro Iwakiri, President

ICU has two starts. One is the foundation year, 1949. The other one is the dedication year, 1953. 72 years ago, a conference was held at the Gotemba YMCA Camp from June 13 to 16 to establish International Christian University. On June 15, a fundamental educational plan was laid down. Today's service to commemorate 72 years from foundation is based on that conference. Incidentally, in 1953, the Japanese Ministry of Education authorized ICU as an incorporated educational institution, and ICU was officially established.

The situation at that time is described in detail in "International Christian University: an adventure in Christian higher education in Japan," written by Professor Charles W. Iglehart. Some things written in the book give us a strange impression. The story that milk cows used to be bred on ICU campus has often been heard. However, I was very surprised when I first read that gifts - including 600 young birds, 7 sheep, 6 pigs, 14 jersey cows, a bull, and some agricultural machines and implements - were brought from America in 1951 or 1952. In the original plan of ICU, there was consideration about forming a faculty of agriculture.

Now, Professor Hachiro Yuasa, the first president, shared the following concept for a new university.

This university must be a new university with a new philosophy and a new program. This university must be a first-class university crossing boarders of race, nationality, and cultural background. This university would truly be able to aim to create a new philosophy of new Japan and new international relations.

And then, William P. Tolley, the seventh Chancellor of Syracuse University, stated that the foundation of ICU was "the best chance to demonstrate a new type of higher education that had hardly been seen as the perfect realization in West Europe and America, let alone Japan." Thus, ICU started with various dreams and plans.

Some of those dreams and plans were realized while others disappeared in history, but the basis was an intention to overcome the tragedy of war and to make a new and free university towards a future by people bound together in friendship under God. To realize this, citizens living in North America and Japan donated, and ICU campus was purchased and founded by the donation.

When we take a look toward the future, there is one more thing to remember. "There was a sense of deep remorse from both Japan and America in the background of the founding vision." This passage is taken from a book about the history of the university, "Higher Education for Tomorrow," written by Professor Kiyoko Takeda. This remorse certainly referred to militarism in Japan, the war of aggression by Japan, and the atomic bomb dropped by the United States.

Today, we remember a great deal of vibrant hope to pursue dreams embraced in one's heart, as well as the mind of repentance at the bottom of the hope, which are engraved in our minds through commemorating the foundation. ICU advances towards the next generation with the promotion of many projects, including the construction of the new building for which a cornerstone-laying ceremony was held recently. Each of us, as members of ICU, continues to contribute to peacebuilding in the world, to development that is harmonized with the environment, and to academic growth.

Various desires are swirling behind a great cause, and amidst anxiety people seek a place to relieve mind and body. In such a world's situation, may ICU campus and the liberal arts practiced here continue to be a true place that we human beings can live with profound wisdom beyond us.

May we spare no effort to be people who sow abundantly and harvest abundantly. May we be fulfilled by every good deed and God's grace.

God guide us, please.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

(Translated by Keita Ichikawa)

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