WHO WE ARE2020-10-08T16:02:08-05:00


Rev. Karen Thompson
Rev. Karen ThompsonSenior 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
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 the 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. Music is a lifelong avocation for Daniel as well as his full-time profession.  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. During summer sessions, he serves as adjunct faculty for the graduate school of music at Texas State University. In the greater community, Daniel serves at the artistic director for the Austin Gay Men’s Chorus. For the Metropolitan Community Church denomination, he has been the music lead at general conference and will serve in that capacity again in 2022.
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

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 [...]

A Rose By Any Other Name

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” Shakespeare penned centuries ago. I do not disagree. But I think, like many things, his claim is relative. Consider your grocery list—do you find [...]

Highlights from General Conference

As virtuous men pass mildly away, And whisper to their souls to go, Whilst some of their sad friends do say, "The breath goes now," and some say, "No,"                                        A Valediction Forbidding Mourning by [...]

Always in Hope: Two Important Updates

In addition to celebrating Pentecost this Sunday and the many exciting REVEALS we’ll be making in conjunction with the “birthday of the church,” we have two important items that we want to make sure you [...]

Send Me Your Pictures!

I will forever be grateful to the Lily Corporation for awarding us a $27,000 grant to pay for my 3-month sabbatical earlier this year; to the MCC Austin board of directors and staff who led [...]

The Rite of Re-Entry

Remember that scene from Apollo 13 when they’re trying to explain to the TV audience the danger that the Apollo 13 crew faces on re-entry? In their illustration, the earth is a basketball and the [...]

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

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Go to Top