Kwansei Gakuin School in Japan was founded 125 years ago this year. And the reason that is important to us is, it was founded by the son of missionaries that went to China in the mid 1800s from a small historic church in Madison County, and thereby Made A Difference that is still being felt today.
Pearl River Church on Old Rice Road, way out east of Madison, is tied into Mississippi history in so many ways we could do a whole series of stories about it all the way back to territorial days. But for this story we will just take one slice of its history and concentrate on what's going on today. This is the annual Lambuth Day at the church.
Early in its history members of the Lambuth family came here as ministers. And skipping ahead to 1854, two of the Lambuths left here and went to China as missionaries and spent 30 years there.
Then they settled in Japan. where their son, Walter Lambuth started a school. And now, 125 years later, some of the alumni of that school are here on Lambuth Day in honor of the founder.
"Our university was founded by Walter Russell Lambuth in 1889," said Yuko Ideda, Archivist at Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan. "So that's the reason why I came here to attend the Lambuth Day ceremony."
"And starting out in 1889 with 19 students the little school has become a comprehensive educational system ranging from kindergarten to graduate school and international school with more than 27 thousand students," said Elbert Hilliard, Director Emeritus of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
"One of the things I discovered in my trip to japan is that really still even today, less than about, somewhere around one percent of the population of Japan are Christians," said Bishop James Swanson of the United Methodist Church, Mississippi. "But a large percentage of those persons prefer an education in a higher education institution that has Christian values."
And the Lambuths leaving all that was familiar behind in a difficult time to travel has left that legacy in Japan.
Not only to bring God's message, but also to try to improve their life." said Kwansei Gakuin School Chancellor Ruth Grubel.
There are some 200 thousand living graduates of Kwansei Gakuin School, of which about 30 came to the place they consider their roots, a small one-room church in Madison County. From which a family went half way around the world over a hundred years ago, and is still Making A Difference.
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