Debra is the Founding Pastor of Urban Abbey. In 2010, she was ordained in the United Methodist Church. She is a 2008 graduate of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, which invited her to love liturgy, explore diverse theological perspectives, push boundaries on the church’s traditional structures and experiment with preaching in a rigorous academic community. Before seminary, she earned a Masters in Education and lived and worked in Germany as an education counselor for active duty military personnel.
While Dallas boasts fine winter weather, and she loved living four hours from Paris in Germany, she is glad to be home in the great state Nebraska and grateful to be close to her Mom’s cooking.
She owns a clergy collar for parades and protests because her work focuses on social justice, liturgics and building community. While in Omaha, she has lead her faith community in starting a Pub church, called Wesley Pub, though she didn’t drink beer, and then a coffee shop, called Urban Abbey, though she preferred tea. She is married to a Republican Accountant named Mike, and they enjoy raising their spunky pre-school age daughter, Lila. Most of all, she is grateful for this unbelievable adventure.
Sierra Salgado Pirigyi
Director of Community Engagement and Campus Ministry
Sierra is the Urban Abbey’s new Director of Community Engagement and Campus Ministry. She has an array of nonprofit experience, starting as an Administrative Assistant for Project WISE in Denver, Colorado. She spent several years as Project Interfaith’s Program Coordinator and also previously served as the Urban Abbey’s Community Engagement Coordinator.
Sierra is currently a graduate student, working on her MA in English-Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies online through Northern Arizona University. She received her BA in Spanish Language and Literature with minors in Mass Communications and Chicano/Latino Studies from the University of Nebraska Omaha.
Sierra is passionate about issues of identity, how they affect worldview and experience, and growing communities that are inclusive for all. She spends her free time reading, writing, gardening, cooking, and exploring her adopted home of Omaha with her husband, Roger, and their three ferrets, Roxie, Glenn and Simba.
James Dias, hailing originally from Pennsylvania, came to Nebraska to attend Weslyan University and decided to stay. After years of experience of restaurant management, flower arranging and delivering, from place to place, he was asked to consider how much he loves coffee and people. James has lead our adventure at Urban Abbey as the manager ever since that fateful day of a phone call from Rev. McKnight, Jim has a passion for working with our local partners to cultivate community and compassion throughout the Omaha metro area. From barista to number cruncher, from community servant to diplomat, Jim does it all.