For over 135 years, we’ve been on a mission to seek a just society by nurturing each person’s spirit through ministry, housing, advocacy, and community service.
Shoulder to shoulder with our community, we operate from a harm reduction perspective and as a faith-based service provider, we welcome and affirm every individual from all walks of life without exception. At our core is the mission, ministry, and call to social justice of the United Church of Canada.
We strive to be a respectful resource to our neighbours in the DTES and those who are in need of a welcoming place to be, to find support, and to feel safe by providing sanctuary in the heart of our city.
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.
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.
We practice empathy – truly seeing and hearing the experience of those around us. Empathy communicates to those we serve: “You are not alone.”
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.
We aspire to a sustainable and equitable society.
FIRST UNITED’s story begins in 1885, when the Presbyterian Church in Canada established a congregation in the township of Granville near Burrard Inlet.
The congregation moves to 320 East Hastings in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, where we remain today.
The congregation becomes FIRST UNITED Church as part of the establishment of the United Church of Canada.
During the Great Depression, thousands are thrown into abject poverty and hunger. FIRST UNITED steps up to respond to the tremendous need, serving as the major support hub for people struggling in the city and feeding more than 1,200 people each day.
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.
The FIRST UNITED Leadership team and Board of Directors are diverse, unique, and committed individuals who oversee the strategic vision and direction of our organization.
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