Macon church builds community one cup at a time


Pastor Kevin Mills has worked at Northway Church on Macon’s Zebulon Road for 16 years, but a service mission to Rome, Italy changed the way he thought about his work and the church’s efforts to serve the local community.

“I love old churches. Beautiful, old, European churches. I could spend an hour just looking at different architecture and the meaning behind certain stained glass windows or statues,” Mills said.

This passion for architecture inspired Mills to create a new kind of meeting place for people: a church coffee shop.  Most people’s lives are centered around two locations — work (or school) and home.  But in sociology, there is the concept of a “third place” — a space to gather and spend time in between home (‘first’ place) and work (‘second’ place).  Third places can be important to community building because they encourage people of different backgrounds to interact. 

“Kevin’s vision for this place was: let’s build a big spacious place that is open to the community,” said Jacob Faircloth, general manager of Cathedral Coffee. “You don’t have to go to church, you don’t even have to be a believer to come.” 

Jacob Faircloth

The percentage of Americans who say they belong to a church, mosque or synagogue has declined dramatically over the last 20 years, leading many houses of worship to experiment with new ways to reach people, including coffee shops.

“We are very transparent about it,” Faircloth said. “It is a ministry of the church.  Northway and Cathedral are one, one mission, one goal which is for the gospel and for the city.”

Faircloth said that by not being economically separate from one another, the coffee shop and the church either mutually benefit or fall with one another, a risky yet potentially rewarding outcome.  

During the pandemic, this was particularly true.  Mills said that as many businesses and employers closed their doors, Cathedral Coffee became a place where people gathered to relax, do virtual school, and have an “office away from home.”

Mills said they have plans to expand.

Part of our master plan is to add a room that can be used as a private meeting room” Mills said. “We don’t want to be so spiritually minded that we’re no earthly good.”