What we can do to help as demand for services at First United has outgrown their space, which has fallen into disrepair.
For over 135 years, First United Church has been a presence in the centre of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The church’s role as a service provider in the neighbourhood dates back to the Great Depression, and they articulate their vision now, as, “A neighbourhood where every person’s worth is celebrated, and all people thrive.” The vision of a just society animates their ministry: housing, advocacy, and community service are at the centre.
For decades, Crossroads United Church and its predecessor congregations have been in relationship with First United, as communities of faith donating time, money and good will to The United Church of Canada’s flagship social service mission in Vancouver. Now, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to partner with First United in a new way. They plan to redevelop their property at Hastings and Gore Streets, to build a purpose-built 4-storey space to host the ministry of First, as well as 7 additional storeys of below-market housing for Indigenous people, partnering with Lu’ma Native Housing Society.
Forty percent of residents of the Downtown Eastside identify as Indigenous, though only four percent of residents of the Lower Mainland identify as such, a statistic the Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne (herself a member of the Heiltsuk Nation) lays directly at the feet of the colonizing project of residential schools. So this project is grounded in Reconciliation as a deepening of relationship between Indigenous and newcomer peoples, and a process of healing.
Please watch the video below to see the impact of First United’s ministry, the scope of the project, and how you can participate in moving First Forward.
How my contribution can make the biggest impact.
If you decide to make a donation to the project, please fill out the digital gift agreement form, email it to First United, and make your donation by one of the methods outlined in the document. Please be sure to let the folks at First United know you are connected to Crossroads United Church, so that your contribution can be doubled by our generous matching donor (up to $50,000 total) and keep your eye on the Communities of Faith Fundraising page on First United’s website to see how Crossroads is progressing toward our goal of $100,000!
If you have specific questions about the project itself, please view the FAQ document.