日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【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 Legacy in 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~






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