Our Church History
At the end of the 2nd World War, a number of Japanese Canadian Seventh-day Adventist members moved East to Ontario. It was in 1950 that several people gathered at the house of one of the church members, residing on Bathurst Street, and held a Sabbath meeting there.
The leaders appointed were Mr. & Mrs. Hideo Okamura and Mr. & Mrs. Kyuzo Uyenaka.
Shortly after, some members of the Okimi family from Hamilton joined this group, swelling the numbers. Soon the private house became too small for meetings and consequently, the group rented a room in the Ukrainian Seventh-day Adventist Church on College Street in order to hold services on Sabbath afternoons.
In August 1952, Pastor Ichiro Shimomura arrived to take up the pastoral responsibility of the newly-formed Japanese Church. Sixteen members gathered at the Ukrainian Seventh-day Adventist Church to hold the provincial church organization.
In March 1953, the first Harvest Ingathering work of our church was launched. The goal was $200 and we raised $1,600. It was a real blessing. Since then, our church has always achieved the Ingathering goal every year.
In April 1955, the formal church organization was completed with 31 members. Among them were Amy Okimi, Kasue Okamura, Kyuoko Sakaguchi, George Sakurai, George Okamura, and David Okamura.
In May 1957, Pastor Shimomura resigned from the pastorate to study further at the theological school in the United States.
Since that time, our church did not have a pastor for a year. But, in August 1957, Elder Shigeru Aso from Denver Colorado came to Toronto. He held an evangelistic meeting and began a radio broadcast in Japanese. The theme was "The Good Tiding". The radio broadcast continued for eight years with the same thee. The Advent message was proclaimed widely among the Japanese people.
In May, 1958, Elder Aso was appointed as the second pastor. In July, 1967, he invited Hiroshi Shibata to hold a series of evangelistic meetings. Under his leadership our church made steady progress. After 9 years of serving as pastor of the Japanese church, Elder Aso moved to Michigan.
In 1967, Pastor Hiroshi Shibata was appointed as the third pastor.
Under the leadership of Pastor and Mrs. Shibata, the long time dream of the members of the church to purchase a church building where they can worship was realized. They bought the Yugoslavian Seventh-day Adventist Church on 19 Mortimer Ave. The price was $25,000. About 40 members made their pledges. Some members gave all the money that they had saved for a trip to Japan. Another member gave all that he had saved to purchase a car. All members sacrificially gave offerings and were able to fully pay the mortgage in 5 years.
On February 3, 1968, the first memorable Sabbath services were held at the newly-purchased church.
In September 1971, Pastor Shibata took a leave of absence to study at Andrews University in Michigan. Pastor Koei Aka (Men's Dean and Bible Instructor at Japan Missionary College) took over and became the fourth pastor.
During his 20-year leadership, he organized and helped support many activities such as Pathfinder Club, yard sales, Senior's Day program, Christmas party, lay members training, children's choir known as the Harmony Singers, and Vacation Bible School.
Evangelistic meetings were held with guest speakers invited from Japan.
In 1973, the church mortgage was paid in full. As a thanksgiving to the Lord, the church was dedicated formally on May 12, 1973. People from various places were invited.
In December of 1974, Sister Vernie Sambas (now Prudenciano) became the first Filipino member of our church. Then came Sister Zeny Garcia. Then more Filipinos came since the scope of our church work was not limited to the Japanese people only but extended to non-Japanese as well.
Starting in 1984, the Japanese church youth department held Youth Campout at various Provincial Parks every summer. It helped the young people to grow spiritually, have unity, and enjoy fellowship.
On July 31, 1991, Pastor Aka retired and finished his pastoral responsibilities. After him came Pastor Itaru Uemae in August of 1991 to become the fifth pastor.
In July 1991, our church was renovated. The entrance foyer and kitchen in the basement were added. Mr. Graham Munro (President of MGM Brand Co.), and his wife Carol and Mr. Michio Yoshimura (Food Technologies of MGM Brand Co.) and his wife Sumi, donated generous amounts for the church building fund. They also helped our church in many other ways.
In November 1991, 24 Filipino members of our church separated from us and formed their own church which they now call "Scarborough Filipino Church."
In June 1998, Pastor Uemae went back to Japan.
In October 1998, Pastor Yoshifumi Tsuji arrived from Guam as the sixth pastor of our church. He served about two and a half years and resigned.
On December 16, 2000, three Estonian brothers and sisters joined our church due to the closing of their church.
In July 2001, Makoto Kawamura, the elder of the Japanese church was appointed by the Ontario Conference to be the interim pastor of our church until a new pastor could be found.
In June 2002, Pastor Ataru Nakagawa and his wife accepted our call and arrived from Japan to be the eighth pastor of the Japanese church.
Pastor Nakagawa served 14 years at our church and decided to transfer to California and is pastoring multiple churches there.
In 2016, we have been very blessed to have Pastor Harutsugu Ogawa and his family as our current ninth pastor of the Japanese church. He has lead the youths to go on mission trips to Okinawa and have blessed our church with the commitment of service, building up not only the youths but the elderly and all visitors with a great passion for Christ (see his Bio on "Meet the Pastor" page.
For all these years, we have continually been blessed and looking forward to the Coming of Christ and saving as many people as possible following Christ's commission to save the lost.
To the pioneers of our church brothers and sisters in Christ, loved ones, and friends, we thank you for making this church so special.
We also want to express our gratitude to the leaders of the Ontario Conference for their support, encouragement, and prayers for our church.
Let us continue to thank God for His love and His mercies upon us.
Let's all be faithful to the Lord.
LET US PRAISE HIM, HONOUR HIM, AND GLORIFY HIS NAME. AMEN