A Parish Story from Gifford Park | Omaha, NE


In the heart of Gifford Park, Omaha, Eric Purcell and his faith community have been on a transformative 13-year journey. Drawn by the missional community movement, they settled into a neighborhood in 2011 hoping for connection and growth.

Several years into the life of their community, it seemed like most of their efforts fell flat. They had launched a soccer program that contributes meaningfully to the lives of many neighbors, yet they weren’t experiencing the transformative experiences they were hoping for. And then, recognizing a need, Eric and his team birthed a coffee shop, without realizing the ways in which it would become a catalyst for change in their neighborhood.

Nearly 6 years later, the space has evolved into more than just a coffee haven—it’s a hub for beautiful connections. Serving the homeless community became second nature, and customers rallied to support this noble cause.

Amidst the coffee beans and espresso machines, the coffee shop staff finds more than just a job. One expressed, "You care for people like a non-profit; I’ve never experienced that in a workplace." Another, seeking a safe space, found not just a nourishing menu but an environment so supportive, it nurtured her through mental health crises and helped her relearn the art of authentic relationships.


“In church culture we often try really hard to win people over. When we can stop doing that and focusing on loving people well, we have a lot more capacity to create space for transformation.”

- Eric Purcell

Eric has seen a simple exchange between baristas become a form of therapy, emphasizing the importance of providing safe spaces for people to be seen and to grow.

Eric is now asking good questions, like, what if we were able to see our neighborhoods as a sacred ecosystem with our humble observation at the center of our actions? Some aspects may need pruning, others careful tending—what is God asking us to nurture at this moment? It’s a delicate dance, acknowledging that not everything needs our touch.

As fear motivates many in this time of church decline, Eric ponders whether the church is truly falling apart or if God is birthing something radically different. Perhaps, Eric muses, the new thing won’t look like the conventional church—but it will be marked by warmth, belonging, and safety.

Learn more about Myrtle & Cypress Coffee Shop. Visit them on Instagram!

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