No church in Canada has generated more news coverage for more years than Vancouver's First United. That has everything to do with its location in the heart of the infamous Downtown Eastside and with its role as caregiver and defender of the poor, the needy and the homeless inhabitants of Canada's poorest postal code. Like Mother Teresa's mission to the slums of Calcutta, the First United seizes its position among the marginalized as an opportunity to serve and has proven a shining example of humanitarian activism for 125 years.
Famous for its defence of the jobless poor during the Great Depression under the leadership of the Rev. Andrew Roddan, it is now equally renowned as a bastion of support for modern-day street people with more complicated problems. With its roots in the early Presbyterian and Methodist Church Missions established in Vancouver in 1885 and 1888, the history of the First United Church spans that of the city it resides in. During that time it has seen the area around it and the population it serves undergo tremendous changes, as initial generations moved out to the suburbs, and the congregation assisted with the settling of newcomers from all over the world.
In this well-written and lively account, Burrows, himself a United Church minister for over four decades, brings his lifetime of commitment and compassion to the remarkable history of the First United Church in Hope Lives Here .