Adopt-a-Road Clean Up

Enjoy some fresh air, an opportunity to get to know others in the congregation, and participate in a project that helps keep our city beautiful! First United is part of the City of Kelowna Adopt-a-Road Program and is responsible for a stretch of Guisachan Road east of the Chevron gas station at Gordon & Guisachan. If you would like to participate, please join us in the parking lot of the Chevron at 10:30am. The City provides reflective vests, bags to collect garbage, gloves, and signage. We provide the volunteers!

Click here for event details and map.

Chicken Time!

The Alleluia Ringers fall sale of Colonial Farms chicken is coming up! Orders are due by Sunday, September 29, and pick up day is Saturday, October 5 between 7:00 and 8:30 a.m. Please speak to any member of the bell choir if you wish to place an order. Thank you!

Potluck (not) in the Park

Come and meet other members from the other United Churches in Kelowna—St. Paul’s, Rutland, and Westbank United. This is a bring-a-dish-to-share picnic lunch starting at 11:45am on Sunday, September 29, at the First United Church Hall, 721 Bernard Avenue (location changed due to weather).

Tournament Raises $17K for Refugees

A successful evening at First United Church was held on March 8, 2019. This fun tournament raised more than $17,000 dollars for Central Okanagan Refugee Committee (CORC) sponsorships, including a Yemeni family. Thanks to all the friends, family, co-workers, and neighbours who pledged to support the Scrabble players! The evening was a lot of fun! Highlights included an opportunity to meet author Sharon Bala, author of The Boat People which won the 2015 Percy Janes First Novel Award and was selected for the 2018 edition of Canada Reads. At the intermission between games, tournament players listened to Bala read from her debut novel and talk about the process of writing, her own family’s experience in Sri Lanka and their eventual emigration to Canada. Bala ended her comments with a moving, heart-felt welcome to “those [in the audience] who have newly arrived…Welcome to Canada, there is room for you here!” Among the players were CORC’s most recent sponsoree, Anas Kartoumeh, a gay man from Syria who arrived in November 2016, and members of the Al-Shahoud family who arrived in 2013. The significance of that, noted tournament organizer Jodine Ducs, was not lost on those present. “At our last tournament, three years ago, the Al-Shahoud family had been present to say hello. They had just arrived a month earlier, knowing very little English. Tonight they are here playing Scrabble!”

Ringing and Singing for Christmas

Join us for an afternoon concert of Christmas music performed with hand bells and vocal choirs. The Alleluia Ringers, under the direction of Nikki Attwell, and Alleluia Singers directed by Frances Chiasson will perform carols followed by refreshments in the church hall. Part of our Concerts at the Corner series. Admission by donation at the door. For information, phone 250.762.3311.

This Halloween We T.P’d the Church

Transgendered People in the Church

First United’s Affirm Committee is hosting a potluck dinner Monday, November 19 at 5:30pm followed by the screening of the documentary film “Belonging in the Body: Transgender Journeys of Faith.” Following the 60-minute film, we are excited to have Beth Carlson-Malena, who’s the director of community for Generous Space Ministries, who created the video, with […]

Most recent refugee sponsored, Anas Qartoumeh to be Grand Marshall of Kelowna’s Pride Parade

The Central Okanagan Refugee Committee (CORC), a consortium of United Churches (Winfield United, Rutland United and First United Kelowna) have worked together for almost two decades sponsoring refugees through the United Church of Canada as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) with Canadian Immigration (CIC). The first refugee family from Syria, the Alshahouds, a family of 7, arrived on May 20th 2016. CORC has worked closely with The Islamic Centre and others in the community to fundraise the money needed to sponsor refugees. Since 2016 two more families from Syria have been sponsored. In late 2017 the group of churches again responded to a request through Rainbow Refugees, a Vancouver-based organization, to sponsor a gay man from Syria. Anas Qartoumeh arrived in Kelowna on Nov. 23, 2017 and was greeted by his sponsors waving rainbow flags and welcoming him to Canada.

Anas has been settling into a new life in Kelowna, and was honoured to be invited to be this year’s Grand Marshall in the Gay Pride Parade on August 18, 2018. Hear Anas’ interview with CBC radio about his life in Syria and how his sponsorship to Canada has changed his life.


The Great Bibleland Dig

Ever wonder who wrote the Bible? When it was written down? Did you know the Bible was the first book ever printed mechanically? That it has been translated into more than 2,000 languages? What makes it so special? These are some of the questions we explored at our week-long Vacation Adventure held August 20-24. Twenty five kids and leaders gathered each morning for singing, games and crafts. We met the entertaining Dr. Doug Treasures, and found out all about what an archaeologist (that’s someone who digs in places where people lived long ago) does. Then we got to try our hand at being an archaeologist too by digging in our survey “grid” to find objects that helped us explore the Bible, and the times it was written in. It was a great week of learning and making new friends!

Heritage Designation

Heritage Building

The historic place is the First United Church and the adjacent church hall and Sunday school, begun in stages between 1909 and 1929 in the Gothic Revival and Tudor Revival styles, and located at 721 Bernard Avenue, at the corner of Richter Street, in Kelowna’s historic North Central neighbourhood.

Heritage Value:

The First United Church has architectural value for its distinctive architectural quality, its having been a product of work by important local architect and builders, and its landmark status. It has historical value for its long-standing place in the community, including its association with specific people and events that were significant in the history of the City; and it has provincial value for its role in Church Union.

The prominent church, built in 1909 during the first wave of development in the young City of Kelowna, is a highly significant heritage resource because of its stalwart Gothic Revival design and its strong architectural presence. The large brick church is also a neighbourhood landmark that marks the dividing point between the commercial and residential sections of Bernard Avenue, and is the main landmark in the area.

This dominant position has been held since the first church was built at this location in 1898. A.B. Knox, pioneer rancher and owner of land to the east of the Kelowna townsite, had donated a large lot at the corner of Bernard Avenue and Richter Street to the Presbyterians two years earlier. The first, wooden, Knox Presbyterian Church was built there by prominent builder M.J. Curts; the name was apt, as Knox had a distant family relationship with John Knox, the Scottish religious reformer for whom the church was named. The church was part of a ‘student field,’ which included the Benvoulin Church, until 1905, when Kelowna’s Presbyterian congregation became self-sufficient and separate.

The present building, the second Knox Presbyterian Church, was designed by architect Wesley A. Peters, who designed two other churches in Kelowna at this time; and was constructed in local brick by prominent builder Harry W. Raymer in 1909-10. It has value as a very good example of the late Gothic Revival Style, a manner in which the Gothic historicism is set within a restrained, almost proto-modernist architectural treatment.

Sunday school rooms were built in 1919 and 1920 (the later built by M.J. Curts). The Tudor Revival school and hall, built in 1928-29 and enlarged in 1947, expanded the Sunday school and provided a hall for many other community activities. The hall remains a popular venue for general secular community activities, as well as for the Church.

The building also has value for its role in the formation of the United Church of Canada. The Reverend Alexander Dunn, who served as minister from 1912, returned from a Presbyterian General Assembly in Winnipeg in 1916 so fired with the idea of Church Union that he immediately resigned to make union possible in Kelowna. As a consequence the Union Church of Presbyterians and Methodists came into being, one of the first union churches in British Columbia. In 1926 the United Church of Canada was formed, including Congregationalists as well, and the building became the First United Church.

The First United Church seized the opportunities of new technology. When the radio station 10-AY (predecessor of CKOV) started broadcasting in 1928, among its first regular programs were morning and evening services from the Church every second Sunday, as well as many concerts put on by the Church to help raise money for equipment upkeep for the station.

Character Defining Elements:

  • Prominent location at the intersection of Bernard Avenue and Richter Street
  • Building mass dominates the open view at the intersection
  • Asymmetrical plan, with a corner entry through the base of the tower
  • Gothic Revival features, including pointed-arched (and segmental-headed) doors, pointed-arched stained-glass windows, buttresses, gables, and crenellated tower.
  • Buttresses are stepped, with sloped coping at each step
  • Light brown brick church walls with cream concrete trim
  • Large stained-glass windows that dominate the two main church facades
  • Stairs with parapets leading up to the principal doors
  • Tudor Revival Church Hall and Sunday School, which are sympathetic in massing with the Church, and which has features of that style, such as the decorative half timbering and vertically-oriented windows
  • Landscaping with trees and shrubs at small open corner
  • Fieldstone retaining wall along narrow raised landscaped beds on Richter Street