UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Knox United in Calgary has opened Sanctuary Coffee and has even bigger plans for transforming its building. (Photo: Jenn Herring)

Calgary church offers caffeine fix

Knox United Church now has a café with free WiFi in its sanctuary.

By Mario Toneguzzi

The iconic Knox United in the heart of downtown Calgary has opened its doors to the larger community, with the smell of fresh java enticing visitors. A café with free WiFi is now running out of the sanctuary, where a coffee counter and seating area replaced seven rows of pews.

“We’re sitting in this gorgeous building named the Cathedral of the West that is appreciated by all kinds of people in Calgary — certainly not just people who are identified with Knox,” says Rev. Greg Glatz. “But it also sits dark and empty apart from concerts and Sunday worship most hours.” He says parishioners asked, “How do we animate God’s mission in that space?”

The café is only the first step in transforming the 105-year-old building. The church has a three-year plan, which includes a kitchen makeover for community use, the launch of a restaurant and a 5,000-square-foot co-working space where people can bring their laptops. The co-working space will be located in a series of three large rooms on the second floor and should be in operation by early next year. The existing kitchen and theatre, both on the lower floor beneath the sanctuary, will transform into a restaurant with a seating capacity of 80 to 100 people by 2019.

Glatz, who previously helped Winnipeg’s Westminster United launch a biweekly coffee house, says that United churches can be revitalized by re-engaging with God’s work: connecting people with each other, with their own true selves and with God. And he says that mission is resonating with his 300-plus congregation.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!


Promotional Image


The Observer has a bright future ahead

by Jocelyn Bell

Change is as vital to the publication's history as our founding Christian values are to our future, says editor and publisher Jocelyn Bell.

Promotional Image


Meet beloved church cats Mable and Mouse

by Observer Staff

They're a fixture of Kirk United Church Centre in Edmonton.

Promotional Image


January 2019

Where to donate your unwanted stuff so it actually goes to those who need it

by Glynis Ratcliffe

It may be tempting when you declutter to just drop off all your items at Value Village, but sticking with local organizations is a better option.


January 2019

Former fundamentalists describe the trauma of leaving their faith

by Anne Bokma

At a weekend retreat, participants find the strength to reclaim their lives.


January 2019

I worry the United Church doesn't want evangelicals like me

by Marilyn Myhre

While the church community says it accepts everyone, one woman wonders if that is still true.

Promotional Image