“Christmas Greetings from the Naces”, Yokohama, c. 1930.



1930sReligiousYokohama
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“Christmas Greetings from the Naces”, c. 1930. The five Nace children (left to right): Theodore, Margaret, Rebecca, George and Robert.

Israel George Nace was born in York County, PA, in 1892. He married Mary Keifer in 1918, and was also ordained a minister of the Evangelical & Reformed Church in America the same year. In 1920, he was chosen as a missionary to Japan from Zion’s Church in Greenville, PA, living first in Akita before moving to Sendai in 1922, and summering at Lake Nojiri with other missionary families.

The mission continued until 1930 when Israel George and Mary concluded that 1) the mission itself was imperialistic and presumptuous (Israel George would write his master’s dissertation on the subject) and 2) increasing nationalism and militarism in Japan were rendering the situation less than optimal for the mission and for the family. The Naces returned to the U.S. Israel George would go to serve parishes in Tillamook and Portland, Oregon, and Pasadena, California. In 1938, Rev. Nace was named executive secretary of the Portland and Oregon Councils of Churches. He left the position in 1958 to become hospital chaplain for the Yonkers, NY, Council of Churches until 1972, when he retired to Greenville, PA.

Israel George and Mary had five children: George, Robert, Theodore, Margaret and Rebecca.

The eldest, George, was born in Connellsville, PA, in 1920, but grew up in Akita and Sendai, Japan. He became a world-renowned and innovative developmental biologist, and was for a time at a Visiting Professor at Kyoto and Hiroshima universities, and served informally as a liaison between the American and Japanese scientific communities.

Margaret was born in 1921 in Akita, Japan. After graduating from Reed College, in Portland, OR, in 1943, she joined the WACS, working primarily in psychiatric hospitals for the duration of World War II. Receiving a master’s degree in social work, she became a caseworker in Indianapolis, IN. Margaret left the US in 1984, and spent two years teaching English at Kwassui Women’s College, Nagasaki, Japan. Upon her return to the US, she taught English conversation to Asian women before retiring to Honolulu, HI, in 1990.

Robert was born in Sendai, Japan, in 1923, and studied with two prominent theologians, Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, before beginning his own ministry in the United Church of Christ. Theodore was born in 1925, in Akita, Japan. After serving in the US Navy, Theodore attended Yale Divinity School. His career as pastor spanned nearly 50 years in pulpits in California, North Dakota, New York, and the Mid-Atlantic area.

Rebecca was born in 1927, in Akita, Japan. A graduate of Reed College, in Portland, OR, (as were all of her siblings), Rebecca later taught in Japan, at Kwassui Women’s College (as did her older sister) in Nagasaki, and then at the IEC Foreign Language Institute in Yatsushiro, where she chaired the English department.

Nace family Christmas greetings, back, 1930.

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