WHO WE ARE2022-11-15T01:02:05-06:00


Rev. Karen Thompson Woodworth
Rev. Karen Thompson WoodworthSenior Pastor

In May 2008, the congregation of upRising (formerly 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 is that the people who find their way to upRising will experience the transformative power of God’s unconditional love, will find a spiritual home, will worship and serve and grow in their own spiritual journeys, and will in turn invite others to join us. She loves cycling, quilting, reading, and writing. Her life is blessed with three children, their three partners, and three 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 husband, Blake, and their Chihuahua, Coco.
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, has completed the denomination’s lay leadership program, L.E.A.D., and is currently attending Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She lives on the seminary’s campus with her husband, Sergio, and their two sweet children, Naomi and Levi
David Blackburn
David BlackburnPianist
David Blackburn began singing with the upRising choir in 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 kidsActing Studio and the Georgetown Palace Education Program. 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 volunteer 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. Before joining the upRising staff, Cindy taught elementary special education for 12 years with Austin ISD. Earlier in her career, she worked more than 20 years in various capacities in the communications field, managed an Austin-based outdoor retail store, and was a bookseller and the assistant to a district manager for Barnes & Noble. Cindy graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication/news-editorial. She enjoys life with her sweet wife, Lupe Garcia, and their two pooches, Tiny and Brotchen.

The Pastor’s Blog

After Today, Rev. Thompson Goes Away

In this age of information at our fingertips, it seems nothing should ever surprise us. And yet it does. So this is my attempt to help more of you not be surprised. (And those of [...]

Trans Folk — I See You

Robert Holden is an author and motivational speaker whose work combines psychology and spirituality. He often opens his events by asking participants to learn and share with each other a two-part greeting that is spoken [...]

Faith and Integrity in a Time of Anti-Trans Actions

It’s been a “when it rains, it pours” kind of few weeks, beginning with Greg Abbott‘s directive to the Director of Child Protective Services giving his opinion that gender-affirming treatment for trans kids is abusive. [...]

The Presidential Debate, a Crisis of Faith, and Communion

I watched the Presidential debate on Tuesday night. Why did I watch? Because I think it’s my duty to be informed -- to try to see what I’ve missed before. (To be honest, I [...]

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. [...]

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 Woodworth
Karen Thompson WoodworthModerator
Marilyn Waggoner
Marilyn WaggonerVice-Moderator
Rebecca Rocha
Rebecca Rocha Clerk
Lionel Laday
Lionel Laday Community Liaison
Stacey McTaggart
Stacey McTaggartTreasurer Pro Tem
Scot Kibbe
Scot KibbeRisk Management

Send your questions and comments for the Board to office@uprisingaustin.org and they will be forwarded to the Board.

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.

2022 Lay Delegates

James Carpenter
James Carpenter
Len Shelton
Len Shelton
Al Reid
Al Reid

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