Our story

First United Church Community Ministry Society (commonly known as First United) is an inner- city ministry of the United Church of Canada committed at its heart to the struggle for social justice, offering programs of advocacy, housing and healing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). In general, we serve adults with complex needs.

First United strives to be a respectful resource to the DTES and to those who are most in need of a welcoming place to be, to find support, and to feel safe. We have been operating in the DTES for over 130 years, and plan to keep our doors open to the neighbourhood as a place to find sanctuary and connection.

Our vision, mission, and values

Our vision is a neighbourhood where everyone’s worth is celebrated and all people thrive.

First United honours the call to seek justice when we meet individual needs, advocate for social change, and provide sanctuary in the heart of the city.

Our values are:

  • Acceptance: We practice a presence of acceptance – caring for people no matter who they are, no matter where they are on life’s journey, no matter their race, gender identity/expression, or who they love. We meet people where they are and offer help when asked.
  • Discernment: We develop and grow our skill at using critical thinking and judgement in our interactions with the community we serve. We know that behaviour is in itself communication, and sometimes rules cannot be one-size-fits-all. And that the world does need rules. We use the same skills to plan how the organization should respond to the neighbourhood we serve.
  • Empathy: We practice empathy – truly seeing and hearing the experience of those around us. Empathy communicates to those we serve: “You are not alone.”
  • Accountability: We show up and we go the extra mile. We deal with our own issues and we take ownership and responsibility for our work and its impact.
  • Social Justice: We aspire to a sustainable and equitable society.

Living in Right Relationships

We honour that we do our work on the unceded ancestral homelands of the Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh), Xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), & Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) peoples. We solemnly acknowledge the interconnected histories of colonization and systemic racism – including the legacy of the Residential School Experience, in which the United Church of Canada bears responsibility – that affect generations of indigenous people living in this territory, including many members of the First United community. We also humbly honour and benefit from the wisdom and guidance of leaders and Elders from indigenous communities, and strive to continually learn and improve our way of being in the world.


To learn more about our programs and services, please click here.