Omaha's Urban Abbey: A Unique Methodist Church

Jan 11, 2018

The Urban Abbey in the Old Market, with the motto “coffee, cause, communion,” celebrated its six-year anniversary this past November. 

Its founding pastor, Reverend Debra McKnight, says it started as a satellite of the First United Methodist Church but became independent two years ago. 

McKnight describes the Urban Abbey as a coffee shop, bookstore and church. The same area where fair-trade coffee, books, jewelry and other gifts are sold is cleared for Sunday church services. She says the Abbey’s uniqueness often creates unique opportunities.  

“Whether it’s the Stephens Center or Nebraska Aids Project or Nebraska Appleseed or Omaha Together One Community – our practice of giving 10% of each sale at the coffee bar has created an opportunity not only for us to support really amazing local work but also for us to expand conversations and invite people into conversations that I don’t know that I would have gotten the chance to in a more traditional church setting.”

The Urban Abbey has grown to the point of holding three Sunday services – at 9, 11 and 5:30. McKnight says they draw people from across the area and with a variety of church backgrounds.  She says they also hold small-group campus outreach at UNO for student vets and on-site for LGBTQ college students. 

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