From A group of nurses to a church in union, NJ
In 1998, there was a group of nurses who all lived in Union, New Jersey. With the help of the Bible Church International and the guidance of Pastor Jeremiah Lepasana, the group began to meet for Bible Study on a weekly basis. Every Sunday afternoon, Pastor Jerry drove, from Garfield to Union, to facilitate the Bible Study.
The core group was Lyn Domingo, Virgie Tesoro, and the late Ampi Funcion who committed to support the church at her early stage. There was a vision for the small group to plant a church in the Union community.
Union Christian fellowship
Providentially, the group called Ptr. Ed Tablazon to be their first pastor. On the first Sunday of April in 1999, the group met for its first Worship service around Ed and Lyn Domingo’s dining table. Back then, the church was called Union Christian Fellowship.
During that time, the church grew in numbers including the families of Lopina and Cortez. Other families occasionally attended, and for the first two months, there were about 15 people in the congregation.
The church moved to Townley Presbyterian Church, which is located along Salem Road. Within the first year of the church’s history, Pastor Bonnie and Sis. Zeny Sakdalan joined the church and helped lead. As the Lord brought more people to this body, the need for more space grew too. The church then transferred to a new meeting location, the First Baptist Church of Union.
On September 4, 2001, the church was renamed Union Community Bible Church. The first official set of church members signed the document of chartered members; there were 17 signatures.
The Tablazon family moved to North Carolina in August of 2006 to follow Lord’s calling to start another church plant within a growing Filipino community there. Again, providentially, UCBC’s mother church, BCI, helped fill in while the church was without a senior pastor. Pastor Jerry traveled to Union every week for one year.
For another year, it was through inviting and scheduling different pastors to speak each Sunday. One of these pastors was Ptr. Vince Alcaide, who also served as volunteer pastor until 2013.
god’s sufficiency and grace
God was preparing UCBC for a new stage of the ministry. His sufficiency and grace carried the church through two and a half years until He introduced His answer to UCBC’s prayer for a pastor. Pastor Solo Reyes was installed as pastor on the first Sunday of 2009.
During the ministry of Pastor Solo, the heart, home, and hope ministries were established. In 2013, eleven people were baptized. Shepherd Group was launched successfully and today there are three active Shepherd Groups – Tuesday/Thursday Group, Friday Group, and Reflection with the youth meeting weekly for Bible Study and fellowship.
Doulos class was also introduced with the goal of preparing the members to serve as leaders in the church. The church also conducted a discovery class for people desiring to become a member of the church.
setbacks and perseverance
God made an unexpected turn in the life of the church when He opened an opportunity to acquire a church property in Allerton, Annandale. The process that the church went through was not easy at all. Despite the challenges and setbacks, the church persevered. By God’s grace and provision, the church finally signed the contract in April 2017.
In May 2018, the church held its first worship service in Allerton. In the same year in June, the church was inaugurated with Ptr. Jerry Lepasana, also the guest speaker; also, Pastor Ed Tablazon gave his testimony during the event. Indeed, it was a joyous celebration!
A month after the inauguration, Ptr. Solo made an astounding announcement. He accepted the Lord’s call to help shepherd a church in Canada. In September 2018, the church was without a Pastor.
For the time being, the Lord provided us with people whose unselfish dedication and love for the Lord are commendable. The church is grateful to Elder JR San Andres; our prayer warriors, Pastor Boni and Ate Zeny Sakdalan; our mentors in the Shepherd Groups, the Candari family, who also assisted in church administration.
The same with many churches in the whole world, the church struggled to meet physically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the Spring of 2020, the church gathered virtually using God-given digital technologies. Gratefully, in August, the church started doing hybrid meetings for Sunday worship and Bible studies. A hybrid meeting is a combination of meeting in-person and via online (or live stream), simultaneously.
Starting in the year 2021, UCBC called a young interim pastor who just graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Thereupon, Ptr. John Paul Arceno was installed as the Lead Pastor on October 3, 2021, by Dr. Terry Robertson of the Baptist Convention of New York. On February 27, 2022, PJP was ordained into the pastoral ministry through the Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America led by Dr. Dan Santiago and Ptr. Felix Sermon.