What to Expect

WELCOME!!

Visiting a church for the first time can be awkward. We hope the awkwardness will quickly melt away as you get to know UPC.

At UPC you’ll find people with all kinds of backgrounds and beliefs. We tend to be on the more liberal or progressive end of the theological spectrum, but we seek to welcome everyone to be a part of our community. We are a community who enjoys fellowship and being active in helping shape the world to be a place with room for everyone.

UPDATED COVID-19 PROTOCOLS – MARCH 22, 20222

Session has updated our COVID-19 protocols to match the current rates of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. This has been a tragic two years, with the loss of so many lives. Throughout, session has taken seriously its fiduciary responsibility to keep safe our congregation and wider community.

On March 22, 2022, session discussed at length the current situation and found that the metrics were such that the previous safety protocols could be relaxed. The following was approved to help safeguard possible future changes in the status of the pandemic:

  • Masks are strongly encouraged indoors on the UPC campus but are not required.
  • Testing and masks are encouraged if you have symptoms or if you know you were exposed to someone with COVID or if you feel that you have been in a setting with a high potential for exposure. Embry Health provides testing in the UPC parking lot from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday for anyone making an appointment or simply stopping by (this was approved by Session on February 22nd).
  • If you are eligible for a vaccine dose or booster, you are encouraged to speak to your physician about getting the vaccine dose.
  • If Maricopa County gets reclassified as Medium Risk by the CDC, Session has already approved adding the indoor mask requirement without any other restrictions.
  • If Maricopa County gets reclassified as High Risk, Session will consider additional COVID precautions as deemed appropriate.
  • Session will continue to monitor both the CDC risk level and other CDC guidance and will respond when necessary.

We will continue to host worship on Zoom and YouTube for those who are unable to or do not yet feel safe attending in-person. You can register for Zoom here and find our live YouTube service here, and past videos here.

If you’re worshiping by Zoom, you are encouraged to stay after worship and chat with others. Be sure to sign up for our weekly emails here to receive Zoom links for other gatherings throughout the week.

WHEN WORSHIPING IN-PERSON

HOW SHOULD I DRESS?

Clothing styles vary at UPC. Some people wear jeans, while others wear slacks, skirts, or dresses. During the summer, the 100º+ heat puts a lot of people in shorts or light weight clothes. Wear what is comfortable for you. We just ask that you do wear clothes!

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I GET THERE?

Our service starts at 9:30 a.m. Most people park in our parking lot in the southwest corner of E. Alameda Dr. and S. College Ave. If you live in the neighborhood, it can be a lovely walk or bike ride. The sanctuary is the tallest building on our campus and is accessible from the parking lot, with doors on your right. Once you arrive, our ushers will greet you and provide a worship bulletin which contains the liturgy for the service and all kinds of info about UPC happenings and connections. After worship, we gather on the patio outside the sanctuary for a little Cafe Justo coffee and other refreshments (we also have tea and juice).

WHAT ABOUT KIDS?

We love kids! Children are very much a part of our community and are always welcomed in worship. We know they make some noise —that’s okay! It’s all part of making a joyful noise to God! As part of our “Listening for the Word of God” in worship, we invite children forward for a special Children’s Moment during which we try to help them understand that they are part of something very special at UPC. Older children are often asked to serve as acolytes to light the candles on the communion table representing the three-in-oneness of God and the Christ candle representing the presence of God’s love revealed to us through Jesus. At the end of the service, the acolyte helps us “carry” the light of God out into the world.

WHAT IS WORSHIP LIKE?

Worship begins at 9:30 a.m. It is a mix of traditional music and liturgy and the sounds of today. The sermons are biblically based, but shaped to inspire our worship and translate scriptures for today’s followers of Jesus. We believe relevance is important. We also believe that holding sacred space is also important, so we offer musically inspired meditations and brief moments of silent meditation. Current events in the world are often a part of our worship either during the sermon or as people lift up prayers during the Prayers of the People. No matter what, everyone is encouraged to engage at whatever level is comfortable for them.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER WORSHIP?

We gather for fellowship and refreshments after worship. If you’re new, be sure to introduce yourself to the pastor who often greets people at the door. August through mid-May, at 11:00 a.m. we offer Sunday School for all ages —children, youth, and adults. We do not stop growing in our faith when we become adults. Plus, Sunday School is a great way to meet more people and become engaged in our communal life.