NAGOYA UNION CHURCH

A SMALL CHURCH WITH A BIG LOVE FOR GOD


ABOUT US

WHAT WE BELIEVE

We believe that there is only one true and living God. God is the creator of the world and everything in it. God is the savior who came to us as Jesus Christ, teaching us what is right and good, and taking the punishment that we deserved. God is the spirit, who guides us daily and shows us the best way to live.

OUR MISSION

There are many wonderful churches in Nagoya that have bilingual services and strive to meet the needs of Japanese speakers in their church. We see our mission as a little different. We are a church that strives to meet the needs of English speakers who are living and working in Japan. It is our passionate prayer that these believers will then be equipped and encouraged to spread the Gospel message to their friends, neighbors, and colleagues in Japan.

OUR PURPOSE

We seek to love God with all our heart, mind and soul, by joining together to worship him and by living every day in light of his word. We seek to love those in our Christian family, whatever their denomination, by serving and encouraging each other. We seek to love those in the world around us, by helping to meet the needs of those in our communities, our workplaces, and throughout Japan and overseas.

OUR PASTORS

MICHAEL LARSEN

Michael Larsen is the Senior Pastor. He grew up in Sacramento, California. Michael graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. After living in Japan for 3 years, he earned his Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois. He then earned his Masters of TESOL from California State University, Sacramento, where he taught English as Second Language at colleges while co-pastoring the First Japanese Baptist Church for 15 years. Michael and his wife and daughter currently live in Gifu-ken where he teaches English full-time.

 

Email: michaellarsen@nagoyaunionchurch.com

PAUL WICKING

Paul was born and brought up in Australia. He obtained a Master of Arts (Theology) at the Bible College of Victoria. He spent a year working in Kyoto as an assistant missionary, before getting married and moving to Nagoya in 2002. Paul spent 4 years doing evangelism through English conversation classes at Nagoya Grace Christ Church, and then ran a house church for 3 years in Ichinomiya. He recently completed a PhD at Nagoya University. Paul enjoys snowboarding and reading reformed theology (not at the same time).


Email: paulwicking@nagoyaunionchurch.com


OUR HISTORY

In the beginning ...

NUC started as an English worship service when there was a US military base in Nagoya. After the base was closed, the church continued, it's main purpose being as a time for missionaries to get together for worship. The services were held in the afternoon because the missionaries were involved in Japanese churches in the morning

 

1960s

In about 1965, the church drafted a constitution. At that time they were meeting in the Kinjo church (where the church continues to meet now). There were very few foreign business people and only 3-4 Japanese attending, but there were at least a dozen missionary families. We didn't have an official "pastor" – every Sunday different missionaries would take turns to preach (that meant each one preached around four times a year). A church council existed and the chairman was there to organize this and run meetings and so on. The vice chairman's role was to organize the speakers for each week. We also had a treasurer and a secretary. All the officers changed yearly except the treasurer.

 

1970s

Around 1977 there was in increase in foreigners in Japan on business, and attendance increased to about 70 people. There was a choir and the church hoped to someday employ an official pastor, which would be a first in the history of NUC.

 

1980s

By 1981 the missionary community was changing. More were moving elsewhere once their children finished school, and others got so busy with Japanese church that they only came sporadically. With the money saved, the church called Bob Anderson to come and preach on a part-time basis. He was a Canadian Presbyterian missionary whose work was with the Korean church. He left in 1983 and returned to Canada. At this time there were very few missionary men around and Barbara Offner became the first woman council chairman and Mary Kay Sapp was vice chair. George Watanabe, a southern Baptist missionary took over as council chair for a short time and preached sometimes. He also served as Council Chair after Mary Kay Sapp. Frank Sapp and Clark Offner were also preaching as well. Mary Kay started preaching once a month, and later actually preached about three or four times a month. Although she was never paid or commissioned by NUC, she was in effect the pastor of NUC from 1983. The church members regularly went to the Sapp's place for fellowship and there was an after-church bible study. There was also a one night, two day retreat held in many places around Aichi, twice a year in spring and autumn. About 20 people used to attend these retreats.

1990s

Mary Kay went on home assignment in 1992 and again in 1997. At that time the church paid for Bob and Priscilla Anderson to come from Canada and share the preaching responsibilities. When Mary Kay decided to leave the church, it had to officially call a minister again. Mary spent a lot of time with the council training them in how to call a minister and their responsibilities in overseeing the work of the minister. Children's Sunday school was held before the service.

 

2000s

In the year 2001, the church started having church services in August for the first time. In July 2001, Pastors Ron and Elaine Hobden took over leadership and the role as pastors for Nagoya Union Church. They were both from Canada. Ron and Elaine took turns to preach and be worship leader every week, as well as leading weekly bible studies both before church and mid-week. There was also a children's Sunday school. There were also various one day retreats held.

 

2004

Brent Hobden took over as pastor of NUC, and was officially ordained in the church. His family also came over from Canada and they resided in the Toda apartment. Two new bible studies/discussion groups were started as well as retaining the previous two. A rotating schedule of Sunday school teachers was also established. Brent Hobden and his family served the church until June/July 2006 and returned to Canada.

 

2006

Pastors Ron and Elaine Hobden came as interim pastors to help us while NUC was looking for a new pastor. Ron and Elaine were called to return to Canada from their home church much earlier than expected and returned to Canada in October 2006. Ron and Elaine put in a lot of effort for the church and finding a new pastor and recommended that we consider calling Pastors Dave and Cathy Wootton.

 

2007

Pastors Dave and Cathy Wootton arrived in Japan and took over as pastors of NUC. They served the church by preaching, offering guidance and leadership, support, bible studies and in many other ways. At the end of the year they felt God`s calling to return to Canada and they returned after serving the church for one year.

2008 ~ 2009

NUC did not have a full time pastor but we were blessed greatly by having many guest preachers so that every Sunday we could keep our worship service as usual. Some of the pastors and missionaries who helped us during this period include: Monika Bruttel, Kazu Endo, Willie Gonzales, Daithao Kamei, David Leaf, Hank Lee,  Kurt Saban, Frank & Mary Kay Sapp, Ron Stoller and Paul Wicking.


2010

David Leaf became the official pastor at NUC. He preached regularly, helped to start The Beacon magazine, and ran regular bible studies. The Lord was able to use David in many ways to bless the church.


2011 ~ 2013

There was no official pastor at NUC, but a regular succession of guest speakers blessed the church with preaching and teaching the Word of God. Mika and Akemi Ishikawa put in a lot of effort to grow the church, through running prayer meetings, bible studies and a children's Sunday School. In January 2014, NUC blessed and sent out Mika and Akemi to work on church planting in the Nagoya area.


2014

The decision to appoint Michael Larsen as the official pastor of NUC marked an important turning point in the history of the church. With a wealth of experience pastoring Japanese and English congregations in the US and in Japan, he has a real pastoral heart for the church.


... to the present

At the moment we remain a small and intimate fellowship, but we have a colourful  mix of ages and nationalities who enjoy worshipping together.