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First United uses mural in Downtown Eastside to launch new initiative

First United Church Homelessness Initiative

First United Church will use the completion of an East Hastings street mural to launch an exciting new Initiative. "This is the time for bold and courageous leadership to address homelessness and we are playing our part by publicly committing to a challenging but vitally needed new venture" says Rev Ric Matthews, Executive Minister of First United Church.


Partnering with four internationally known aerosol artists to create a mural on the wall at 55-57 Hastings Street, First United Church will mark the completion of the mural with a public announcement of a new initiative to improve the lives of those most marginalized in the Downtown Eastside. Launching its initiative, "Hope Lives Here," First United will announce the beginning of its capital campaign for a $31 million redevelopment on its site at the corner of East Hastings Street and Gore Avenue.


"This redevelopment mirrors the work of Peeta, TitiFreak, Faith47 and Indigo to change this neighbourhood into a place of hope and renewal," says Rev. Matthews.  "Mainstream society often dislikes the efforts of graffiti artists but these artists who are working on this wall, show us what is possible when faith goes beyond words to concrete action.  That's what we're interested in at First United - concrete action that makes a difference."


First United will use the completion of the mural to unveil its plans for an integrated facility which creates a new kind of community in the Downtown Eastside Project "Hope Lives Here" will provide new homes and services for those in need and on a deeper level, create a place of inclusion and belonging that aims to banish the alienation and marginalization that plague too many in Canada's poorest urban neighbourhood.  "True healing and hope rests on a deep sense of personal belonging and a renewed encounter with one's own spiritual centre" comments Rev. Matthews. "Over 125 years we have come to believe that hope lives in this place because it's here where people find a home in which they belong and in which they encounter the sacred daily".


A press conference to show the working plans of the new facility will take place at the site of the Paint Your Faith mural at 55-57 Hastings Street on Wednesday, April 28th at 10 a.m.


Matthews says that it has been tempting to delay the announcement until they had more details and funding in place but he is convinced it is necessary to make the announcement now. He says "I really hope that our announcement of this initiative will be one of many by concerned groups who see the urgent need, risk stepping up and are willing to partner with Government, but not leave it all up to them to do. We need to act and we need to do it now!" 

For Information Contact:

Nina Matthews

604-681-8365 ext 117

[email protected]


Paint Your Faith Event


Paint Your Faith is an extraordinary celebration of faith and art supported by the United Church of Canada’s Emerging Spirit initiative and Wondercafe Paint Your Faith brings together artists from around the world to express their perspective on faith through public art projects. The collaboration of the artists in a public space creates conversation and dialogue about beliefs, values, and art and how these elements can transform lives and change communities.

First United Church is partnering with Emerging Spirit on a Vancouver Paint Your Faith project ( which will take place in the Downtown Eastside, across from the Woodwards Building, during the week of April 21st to April 28th. A wall on the side of the building at 55 East Hastings (Hastings and Abbott) will be painted with a 13' x 130' mural of images of faith. Faith47 from South Africa, Titi Freak from Brazil, Peeta from Italy and Vancouver's own Indigo will create this work of art for the community and for all who travel along Hastings Street. For seven days, these artists will take a blank wall and turn it into their own personal canvas, creating a piece of art that will change the Vancouver landscape and open discourse for what faith, spirituality and art is really about. Add your thoughts about the meaning of faith for you by following the link to the Paint Your Faith website and blog.

To learn more about the artists click on any of their images or visit our artist section.

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