【April 2019 No.402】Seikyo Gakuen: A School Born through Prayer

The beginning of Seikyo Gakuen was unique. It started in the confusing and uncertain times after World War II. The Sunday school students of Kawachinagano Church in southern Osaka began to pray enthusiastically that they would always be able to learn according to the Bible at school. If you look around the world, you will see that it is still quite rare to find a school that was created by students and their own voluntary prayers.

In 1948, the Sunday school students started their fundraising activities by picking up sukudo (dried leaves used for kindling) and selling it in the streets to raise money to create their school. In 1950, the members of Kawachinagano Church, inspired by the enthusiasm of the students, joined the students’ efforts to establish a school based on Christianity. Two people, Ueda Shinichi and Nakayama Noboru, felt a special calling from God and decided to devote their own lives to the establishment of Seikyo Gakuen.

Ueda Shinichi (1896-1989) was the last member of the church to have been baptized by Rev. Alexander Durham Hail, the missionary who founded Kawachinagano Church.* To bring about the establishment of Seikyo Gakuen, God called upon Ueda, who had lived his life as a principal in the public school system. He full-heartedly joined the establishment efforts, donated the majority of his public school retirement bonus to the campaign, and drafted a statement in January 1950 to concretize the vision of Seikyo Gakuen. According to this statement, a clear goal was set in everyone’s mind: “We will create a genuine school that can cultivate true Christian spirit, that is to say, a school that can enhance true intelligence through loving God, loving people, and pursuing the truth.” After that, many people continued to dedicate themselves to this purpose, and in April 1951, only a year and three months after the draft of intent, through the miraculous intervention of God, Seikyo Gakuen Junior High School was founded. Ueda became its first principal.

Despite being a small school with only 49 students, it was a joyful place where the presence of God was embraced. As its location was in the countryside of southern Osaka, it was unable to gain enough students for smooth management, even though the Japanese economy was growing rapidly. Because of this, Ueda endured many difficulties as he continued to try to keep the school open. However, he continued to serve faithfully, in accordance with the words of the Lord, by setting an example and taking on many jobs, such as working at the school building’s construction site. In 1968, God once again miraculously gave the members dedicated to this cause the opportunity to establish a senior high school.

By the 1980s, Seikyo Gakuen had grown into a school with more than 1,000 students. Ueda thanked God for His divine work. In 1989, the Lord took him home at the age of 93. Until the end of his life, he continued to be an active principal. He loved to spend time with students and continued to speak with enthusiasm. His educational attitude made students sense the importance of passion. “Our students are our billboard” is a phrase that everyone in the southern part of Osaka knows.  It is our tradition at Seikyo Gakuen. This is the legacy brought about by Ueda’s faith.

Another founder, Nakayama Noboru (1925- ), was Sunday school teacher of the students who campaigned for the establishment of Seikyo Gakuen. He strongly believed, due to his experience of the devastation caused by World War II, that it was necessary to nurture human beings to be truly humane; he also believed that the enthusiasm of the Sunday school students showed him his God-given path.   Nakayama did not need time to reach this decision. In January 1950, his parents, who knew their son’s will, decided to dedicate their house to the church, although it was supposed to be passed on to their son. The donation was a big step forward for the establishment movement of Seikyo Gakuen.

As vice-principal, Nakayama dedicated himself to enhancing Seikyo Gakuen’s educational content for nearly 40 years under the leadership of Principal Ueda. Nakayama’s lessons and chapel sermons embodied the true mission of the school and were filled with thoughtful approaches. He pondered deeply and discussed with students the way to live a life that expressed the glory of God. In particular, the third graders in junior high school would spend more than a month interpreting and discussing Uchimura Kanzo’s The Greatest Legacyin their Japanese literature class. This gave students the opportunity to know about the importance of living with faith. In addition, the lessons helped foster the students’ ability to think independently and properly about things, and to make use of the gifts given to them.

Many of the students who grew up receiving an education from Nakayama had these words from the Bible deeply engraved upon their hearts: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another” (I Peter 4.10). These students participated actively and served in society following graduation. After Ueda had passed on, Nakayama led Seikyo Gakuen as president and principal. He continued to work towards the improvement and enhancement of the school. Humbly asking for God’s will and with great effort, Nakayama worked towards creating an educational curriculum that would enable all students to make full use of their own talents.

In the first decade of the new century, when the results of his school administration were fruitful, Seikyo Gakuen grew to approximately 2,000 students and became one of the most trusted schools in the southern Osaka area. Even now, Nakayama often says, “God was pleased with His creations. In His likeness, we will find joy when we are able to make something new. We have endured a lot of hardships since our founding, but we prayed continually and devoted ourselves to making our school with everyone, and eventually we all got supreme joy from God.”

Seikyo Gakuen, for which everyone kept praying and working together, still continues through the grace of the Lord. This is the real testament to Nakayama’s faith.

 

                           —Ueno Kimitoshi, secretary-general

                            Seikyo Gakuen

 

*Rev. Alexander Durham Hail: a missionary of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, located in the United States

 

清教学園の創立 ~祈りから生まれた学校~

 清教学園の始まりは、ユニークである。太平洋戦争後、人心の混乱の中、河内長野教会の日曜学校に集う生徒たちが「聖書に基づいた学びのできる、自分たちの学校が欲しい」と熱心に祈ったのが、その始まりであった。生徒たち自身の自発的な祈りから学校が作られたという創立の歴史は、世界中を見渡しても、そうはあるまい。

1948年以来、生徒たちは、自分たちの学校を設立するために、「すくど」(焚きつけ用の枯葉)を拾い集めてそれを街中で売り、募金活動を続けていた。1950年、この生徒たちの熱い思いに周りの大人たちも応え、河内長野教会の信徒全員の心に「キリスト教を土台にした学校を作ろう」という夢が芽生えた。そしてそのとき、植田うえだ真一しんいちと中山なかやま昇のぼるという二人の人物が神様からの特段の召命を受け、清教学園の創立のために自分自身の人生を捧げるという道を選んだ。

植田真一(1896年~1989年)は、米国カンバーランド長老教会の宣教師として来日し河内長野教会の創立者ともなったA.D.ヘール牧師が同教会で洗礼を授けた最後の信徒であり、公立学校の校長をしていた。神様は、清教学園の設立を実現するため、学校での職務経験のある植田を召したのであった。設立運動に加わった植田は、公立学校の退職金の大半を献金するとともに、1950年1月、学園の掲げるヴィジョンを具体化するために設立趣旨書を起草した。この趣旨書により、「神を愛し、人を愛し、而も、真理を追求して知性を高める、真の基督精神の道場たる、生きたる学校を作る」という明確な目標が皆の中に定まった。その後も多くの人々が献身を重ね、趣意書の起草からわずか一年三ヶ月後の1951年4月、神様は奇跡を起こされ、清教学園中学校の創立が成った。そして植田は初代校長となった。わずか全校生徒49名の小さな学校ではあったが、清教学園は神様の臨在を覚えることのできる喜びの場所であった。南大阪の田舎に位置する学園は、世の中が高度経済成長の時代になっても、経営が順調に進むのに十分なほどの生徒数を集めることは叶わず、校長の植田にとって学園運営は苦難の連続であった。しかし、植田は校舎建築の現場で自らも作業を行うなど身をもって範を示しつつ、主の言葉に忠実に仕え続けた。そして1968年に再び神様が奇跡を起こされ、清教学園には高等学校を設立する機会が与えられた。その後、1980年代に入ると、清教学園は全生徒数が1,000人を超える学校に成長し、植田は神様の御業に感謝しながら、現役校長のまま93歳で天に召された。――生徒たちと共に過ごすことを好み、気概を持って語りかけ続けた植田の教育姿勢は、生徒たちの魂に情熱の大切さを感じ取らせた。「生徒が看板である」という清教学園の伝統は、いまや地域の誰もが知るところであるが、これこそが植田における信仰の遺産であると言える。

もう一人の創立者である中山昇(1925年~)は、清教学園の設立運動を興した生徒たちを日曜学校で教える教師であった。戦争による荒廃の中、本当の意味での人づくりが必要だと心の底から思っていた中山にとって、「日曜学校の生徒たちの熱い願いは神様が自分自身に与えてくださった道を示すものである」ということを信じるのに時間は必要なかった。また中山の固い意志を知った両親は、1950年1月、息子に相続する予定だった家を教会に捧げると決意し、清教学園の設立運動が大きく前進する一助をなした。清教学園中学校の創立が成った後は、教育者としての先達である植田のもと、中山は40年近くにわたり教頭として清教学園の教育内容の充実化に身を捧げた。創立理念を体現する中山の授業や礼拝説教は、神様の栄光をあらわす生き方について生徒たちと共に考えるという真摯な内容のものであった。とくに卒業前の中三生たちと共に一か月以上の長い時間をかけて内村鑑三著『後世への最大遺物』を精読し討論する授業は、信仰を持って生きることの大切さを知る契機を生徒たちにもたらすと同時に、主体的にじっくり物事を考え自分に与えられた賜物を生かせるような人材へと生徒たちを育成していった。中山の教えを受けて育った生徒たちの多くは、「その賜物を生かし、互いに仕え合いなさい(ペトロの手紙Ⅰ4章10節)」という聖書の言葉を胸に深く刻み、その後も広く社会で活躍・奉仕していった。植田が天に召された後、中山は理事長・校長として清教学園を率い、神様の御心を謙虚に尋ねながら、生徒たち一人ひとりの賜物を生かす教育をさらに推し進めた。中山による学校運営の成果が実った2000年代、清教学園は全校生徒が約2,000人の学校にまで発展し、地域で最も信頼される学校の一つになった。今も中山は「神様は『創る』ことを喜びとされた。創立以来、数々の苦労を耐え忍んだが、『学校を作る』ということに皆と共に身を捧げることによって、私たちは神様から喜びをいただくことができた。」としばしば口にする。皆と共に祈り作り上げてきた清教学園が主の恵みにあずかり存続していること、これこそが中山における信仰の証しであると言える。(植野公稔、学校法人清教学園法人事務局長)