Heart for the City

First Baptist Church’s historical character and enduring popularity allows this thriving community to embrace the ambition and passion that lets us identify as having a Heart for the City. From the beauty of our historic building to the sincerity of our Sunday sermons, from our outreach work with Vancouver’s neediest to the community small groups that allow First Baptist’s members to connect with their friends and mentors, this Heart for the City reaches far beyond the corner of Burrard and Nelson. With more than 125 years of partnering with the community, First Baptist Church is ready to move forward with a vision that will allow this community to share its identity more effectively with Vancouver.

A 24-Hour Heart for the City

This heart beats day and night, throughout the year. Many of our neighbours have let us know just how glad it makes them to see the homeless gathering for our Tuesday night congregation. In fact, one of our closest neighbours, the IGA, recently made a substantial donation to help with the meals we serve each week. Still, many people are unaware that Tuesdays are an overnight endeavour. From September to June, volunteers look after First Baptist’s guests through the night, providing them with a warm, clean bed, fellowship and a hot breakfast in the morning. In extremely cold weather the shelter program is expanded as needed at the request of the City to help provide warm food and shelter for those in needFirst Baptist Church has something going on seven days a week, 365 days a year–check out the Community tab to see what keeps us busy.

A Historic Heart for the City

As the map shows, Vancouver was a very different place in 1887, when Reverend Robert Lennie invited Reverend J.W. Daniels of Seattle to pastor a group of Baptists who were keen to establish a ministry for the growing city. After a short stay on Main Street, the cross streets of Hamilton and Dunsmuir became the home for the newly established First Baptist Church. With seating for 800, the church thrived and soon outgrew the site which is now home to the Vancouver Playhouse. In 1904, First Baptist Church moved to the West End when the forested lot on the corner of Burrard and Nelson was purchased in part to provide a solid high ground for a stone building in what was largely a somewhat swampy area. The building was dedicated in 1911 and over the years further properties along Nelson were purchased to help the congregation better serve the community. After a century in the West End, this Heart for the City is looking forward to its next 100 years.

A Heart for the City with a Vision for the Future

From the corner of Burrard and Nelson streets in the heart of downtown Vancouver, First Baptist Church is called to serve by listening, welcoming, feeding, counseling, accepting, and praying for individuals and groups who live, work, and play in the surrounding community. First Baptist is pursuing a vision which stretches 100 years into the future—one where we are able to realize the call to serve the community in ways immeasurably more meaningful than could have been hoped for in the here and now. We cannot know what needs will arise in the century to come, but we can strive to support our community in practical and relational ways that will help provide the foundation needed for our neighbourhood to thrive far into the future.