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Ibaraki Christian Flourishes on 70th Anniversary

by: Stafford North | May 16, 2017

Ibaraki Christian University is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. In looking back on history, one can see that the strongest Christian influences from the USA in the early stages were from graduates of Harding, Lipscomb, and Pepperdine. After Howard P. Horton came to the IC campus in 1969, however, the primary influence has been from Oklahoma Christian University and the exchange program it made with IC.

Another important note is that on April 1, 2017, Randall Voss, at left in the photo, (OC 1977 graduate) became Principal of Ibaraki Christian High School and Junior High School. When IC was established (Nov. 16, 1947) all administrators were American missionaries of the churches of Christ. They were administrators because Americans were supporting and running the school.  One of the primary purposes of the school was for training Christian preachers/teachers. Another purpose, that of giving all students a liberal arts education with a Christian understanding, became stronger, and as the student body became larger, the support from the U.S.A. was unable to meet all the needs of the institution.

In April of 1971, therefore, Japanese administrators took over and have continued developing the institution as a private school with a curriculum based on Christian values. Jim Batten (OC 1970 graduate) was one of the first teachers who came to IC in 1971.  He came to IC by invitation of Horton (former OC Dean of Students) who was teaching during the change of administrations, and developed the program of having American teachers come to IC as English teachers. In the first twenty years, American missionaries taught English as a secondary role, primarily through English Bible study. From 1971, the American teachers taught English language and literature as their primary teaching load, and also taught English through Bible studies and worked with local churches of Christ as “vocational missionaries.”

Randall is the first American principal in forty-six years, and the first one ever to come to that position after serving as a teacher for over thirty years. Randall is the second OC graduate to join the IC administration in the 21st century. Jim Batten, right in the above photo, became Chancellor of Ibaraki Christian Education Community (including kindergarten, junior high, high school, university and graduate school) in April of 2010. He had been teaching at Ibaraki Christian since 1971.

In the summer of 1973, when OC President James Baird came to Japan to visit with Howard Horton, they spoke with Joji Saito, IC President, and Shunzo Asano, Chairman of the Board, and decided to work on the idea of a mutual exchange program. Jim Batten was also involved in those discussions. That program officially began in 1975. Randall Voss and Larry Weatherford (another OC grad who has been a teacher in Ibaraki Christian Junior High School since 1986) were participants in the short-term exchange program in 1976 and 1977. For the last forty-two years there have been exchange students on both campuses. Many of the OC students who participated on the IC campus, have returned to Japan to teach English here in Ibaraki prefecture. That has been a very positive influence on the number of our incoming students.

Ibaraki Christian wants to thank Oklahoma Christian for the long and positive relationship between our institutions. Our relationship with you has blessed us in many ways, our new principal being one. May the Lord continue to bless and use us to mutually develop our institutions for His glory.