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 a time for missionaries to get together for worship. The services were held in the afternoon as because the missionaries were involved in Japanese churches in the morning
In about 1964-5, the church drafted a constitution. At that time they were meeting in the Kinjo church (where the church continues to meet. ). 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 a different missionary 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 secretary. All the officers changed yearly except the treasurer.
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 call an official pastor, which would be a first in the history of NUC.
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 sometime and after Mary Kay Sapp served as Council Chair too. 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 called 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.
Mary Kay went on home assignment in 1992 and again in 1997 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.
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.
In July 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.
In July 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 did lot`s of effort for the church and finding a new pastor and recommended that we would consider calling Pastors Dave and Cathy Wootton.
In January 2007, Pastors Dave and Cathy Wootton arrived to 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. In the end of the year they felt God`s calling to return back to Canada and they returned after serving the church for one year.
2008 to 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.
An advisory board (church council) continues to meet once a month to discuss the business of the church and other important matters.
Because of the international nature of the church, there has always been an interesting mix of people from many different countries, and will continue to be.