WHO WE ARE2020-03-05T18:45:37-06:00


Rev. Karen Thompson
Rev. Karen ThompsonSenior Pastor
In May 2008, the congregation of MCC Austin elected Rev. Karen Thompson as Sr. Pastor. In this role she holds responsibility for planning and conducting worship, serves as head of staff, and leads the Board of Directors as its Moderator. A graduate of Austin Presbyterian Seminary, Rev. Karen began her journey to ordination as a Presbyterian. However, the Presbyterian Church’s refusal to ordain openly gay pastors at that time, combined with Rev. Karen’s growing desire to work in and with the LGBTQ faith community, led her to ordination in MCC. Rev. Karen’s hope for upRising is that people who believe in the transformative power of God’s love will find a spiritual home here, will worship and serve and grow in their own spiritual journeys here, and will in turn invite others to join us here. Rev. Karen is married to Stacey McTaggart, and their lives are blessed with three children, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren.
Rev. Bill Young
Rev. Bill YoungAssociate Pastor
For over 20 years, Rev. Bill Young has served the people of upRising. A full-time professor in the Computer Science department at UT Austin, Rev. Bill dedicates many of his non-teaching hours as a volunteer member of upRising’s clergy staff. In addition to occasionally preaching and performing weddings and funerals, Rev. Bill provides pastoral care in coordination with the upRising Deacons. Most importantly, Rev. Bill works quietly behind the scenes every Sunday morning to see to it that everything runs smoothly. Rev. Bill shares his life with his partner Blake, their Chihuahuas and numerous farm animals.
Amanda Alvarado
Amanda AlvaradoProgram Coordinator
Amanda Alvarado began attending MCC Austin in the summer of 2012 and immediately fell in love with its members. She is grateful and honored to serve them now as upRising’s Program Coordinator. In this role she organizes and promotes small groups for adults and children, supports and encourages ministry and program leaders, and helps visitors and new members get plugged in. She holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science and has completed the denomination’s lay leadership program, L.E.A.D. She lives with her husband, Sergio, and their two sweet children, Naomi and Levi.
Dr. Daniel Arredondo
Dr. Daniel ArredondoDirector of Music and Worship Arts
Dr. Daniel Arredondo is the Director of Music and Worship Arts at upRising. He earned his undergraduate degree in music education at Westminster Choir College, his master’s degree in choral conducting from Texas State University, and his DMA in choral conducting from University of Texas. In the summer of 2011, he traveled to Hungary to study at the Kodály Institute in Kecscemét, where he was one of twelve international students accepted into the post-graduate conducting seminar. In addition to his position at upRising, Daniel works as a consultant with the secondary choral programs of Dallas ISD, and his mentoring of the district’s choir directors has led to their students earning an unprecedented number of ensemble and individual awards. In the greater community, he serves at the artistic director for the Austin Gay Men’s Chorus. Music is a lifelong avocation for Daniel as well as his full-time profession.
David Blackburn
David BlackburnPianist
David Blackburn began singing with the upRising choir in the summer of 2006 and soon became a substitute pianist. In 2007 he became the full-time pianist and has been playing ever since. David is quite active in the music and theatre scenes in Austin. He co-teaches a musical theatre class at Hendrickson High School and is a music director and instructor with kids Acting Studio. He saw his dreams come true when he and Barbara Schuler started Austin Theatre Project in 2011 where he was the Artistic Director and served as pianist/music director for their musical productions. He is now a music director/pianist for the Georgetown Palace Theatre. David was instrumental in the creation of upRising’s popular Summer Broadway Sermon Series and is thrilled to see it grow every year.
Cindy Stocking
Cindy StockingOffice Administrator
Cindy Stocking serves as the Office Administrator for upRising. She has been a member of the congregation since 2001 and has served in several positions at the church, including co-leader of Project Brown Bag, treasurer of the upRising Board of Directors, and a member of the Red Carpet Team. Cindy graduated from Abilene Christian University with a degree in mass communication/news-editorial. After working for more than 20 years in the communications field, doing a stint as a manager of a local outdoor retail store, and working as a bookseller and the assistant to a district manager for Barnes & Noble, Cindy pursued her love of teaching and became certified as an educator. She taught elementary special education for 12 years with the Austin Independent School District. Cindy is married to Lupe Garcia, and they enjoy life with their two pups, Brotchen and Tiny.

The Pastor’s Blog

Hope in the New Normal

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins explains a phenomenon referred to as the Stockdale Paradox. Admiral Jim Stockdale was the highest-ranking United States military officer in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during the [...]

Rising Above Racism – August 5

When I was in seminary I took a course on feminist theology. One question that came up early and often for my classmates and me was “Do you consider yourself a feminist?” The question placed [...]

For the Love of God and Neighbors…

“I’m so weary of the ‘call out’ culture. We need a call forth culture instead. Calling forth the best in people. Calling forth compassion, gratitude, empathy. Calling forth justice. Calling forth beauty, goodness, wonder. [...]

Isms and The Church

Since this is my first article for June, which is celebrated as PRIDE month, I want to share the story of a gay black woman. Staceyann Chin grew up, as the title of her memoir [...]

On My Mind Today — Twin Flames

This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, the "Birthday of the Church," the recognition of the gift of the Holy Spirit. We use red to symbolize Pentecost because it reminds us of the tongues of fire that [...]

Happy Valentine’s Day

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and it’s not an accident that this Sunday we’ll finish our series on intimate relationships with “Closer than Close: Intimate Families.” Throughout the series I’ve tried to emphasize that all of [...]

Will We Choose a New Name for MCC Austin?

Dear Members and Friends of MCC Austin, Most of you know that we have a Name Team that has been leading us through a process for considering a new name for our church. The Team [...]

Christmasing Throughout the Year

Today I’m writing about two of my great loves—words and Karen Carpenter. Yesterday I was listening to Christmas music, and though I usually keep the volume at a nice low background level, I turn it [...]

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Board of Directors

Members of the Board of Directors of upRising are elected by the congregation during the annual congregational meeting, and they serve a two year term.

    Board members are charged with the following responsibilities:
  • Ensuring adequate financial resources for upRising to pursue its mission and vision
  • Ensuring effective management of the church’s funds and other assets
  • Ensuring sound risk management policies
  • Participating in selecting the candidate to be elected by the congregation as Sr. Pastor when that is necessary
  • Supporting and advising the Sr. Pastor and providing constructive feedback
Karen Thompson
Karen Thompson Moderator
Jen Chancellor-Hurd
Jen Chancellor-HurdVice-Moderator
Nicole Piche-Romero
Nicole Piche-Romero Clerk
Heather Johnson
Heather Johnson Treasurer
James Carpenter
James Carpenter Community Liaison
Harold Hardy
Harold HardyAt-Large

Lay Delegates

Lay Delegates are the official representatives of the local congregation to the General Conference of Metropolitan Community Churches. Their primary responsibility is to attend and represent the congregation at the General Conference by voting, by gathering information about the denomination to take back to the congregation, and by sharing the views of the congregation with the denominational leadership as appropriate. In between General Conferences, Lay Delegates serve as the communication link between the local congregation and the denomination. They are elected by the congregation at the annual congregational meeting and they serve a three-year term.

2017-2019 Lay Delegates

James Carpenter
James Carpenter
Len Shelton
Len Shelton
Velma Garcia
Velma Garcia

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