First United Church Community Ministry Society is welcoming a new Executive Director as of February 20th, 2017. The Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne, an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada and a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation, brings a breadth of experience both in theology and community service to the pivotal role at the busy East Hastings Ministry.
Born in Alert Bay, BC, Carmen grew up in the United Church and was involved in the church in a variety of ways. She has served on the Executive of the General Council, as United Church representative to the Executive and Central Committees of the World Council of Churches, and currently sits on the Theology, Inter-church, Interfaith committee of the national church. She holds a PhD from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA and speaks, writes and publishes across North America on issues of indigenous theology and indigenous-Christian relationships.
“As a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation and as one whose academic work has focused on indigenous ways of knowing, Carmen will bring a rich heritage to her work in the Downtown East Side, said Brian Thorpe, Chair of the Board of Directors. “As a United Church minister and as one who has represented the church at the World Council of Churches, Carmen is well positioned to build wider church support for the ministry of social justice which is so central to the long history of First United Church. We are delighted to welcome Carmen’s leadership.”
Lansdowne believes that the ministries at First United are at the heart of the creator’s mission for the world, and is firmly committed to a working in and with the Downtown Eastside for justice, in love, service and solidarity.
“I am thrilled to accept the appointment of Executive Director at First United,” Lansdowne says. “Growing up in the United Church, First has held historic and deep commitment from our denomination to do ministry with the most vulnerable in society in a way that expresses what we believe to be the heart of God’s mission for the world.”
Lansdowne fills the spot left vacant by Genesa Greening in September of 2016 and joins the organization on the precipice of collective bargaining completion with the UFCW Local 1518. As a new era begins with the ministry, the timing couldn’t be better for new leadership and a fresh voice for the community of the Downtown Eastside.
“The context and specific needs of the DTES continue to change and evolve in urgency and complexity,” admits Lansdowne. “I look forward to working with the community, staff, the wider church and residents of Vancouver and British Columbia to find ways to continue shining the light of hope that First United has held for so many.”
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