Here are some of the highlights of UUCP’s development over the years, beginning in 2021. Visit our 1947 to 2020 timeline or main history page and/or check out the history documents in the sidebar for more information.


2021 – 2021 was a year that should go down in the UUCP History books. The congregation building was closed for worship and meetings for the ENTIRE year due to the pandemic. It looked like the pandemic would be receding at the beginning of the summer, but then new Delta and Omicron variants arrived, making the pandemic the lead issue for the rest of 2021. 

The congregation continued to respond in creative and innovative ways. Almost all of the programs that existed before the pandemic continued online, and many people found the online format more accessible and a great way to get to know people in deeper, more meaningful ways. Other folks missed being in person and Zoom worship and meetings weren’t as rich for them, so they took some distance from the congregation, although promised to return when in-person worship returned. In addition, programming that was added right after the pandemic began—including Monday morning meditation, Death Cafe, Lunch with the Minister and online coffee hour—continued through the whole year. New people continued to find us, join us virtually, and even become members without ever having been inside the building.

The other factor complicating 2021 was the re-paving of the parking lot, a project that was started in June of 2021 but wasn’t officially paved and striped until January 21, 2022, due to permitting issues with the town of Paradise Valley, worker shortages, concrete shortages, COVID and myriad other issues. So even if the congregation could have opened, there was not parking to do so. 

The roles of the staff continued to change. The area with the biggest impact was Children’s Ministry. The pandemic hit families with children very hard, with online school and so much Zoom learning. Children’s Ministry programming got creative and responded with more personal faith development for families, the Navigators scouting program, and other fun programming that may engage kids. Coming of Age was introduced virtually in 2021 to continue through the 2022 year, with the kids bonding and virtually decorating an online space in a program called Gather. Our Director of Children’s Ministry had a two month sabbatical. It was our first staff sabbatical and as a result, the Personnel Advisory Committee worked on a staff sabbatical policy that the board will be reviewing in 2022. 

In 2021, the music was all virtual as well. Our Music Director, Benjie Messer, directed several virtual choir pieces, adding several other congregations in the Arizona area to our choir, in an effort to help smaller, struggling congregations. While many choir members missed singing in person and some didn’t like recording “solos” in their living rooms, the congregation adored when new choir pieces appeared.

While we planned, re-planned and cancelled planning, we purchased equipment for new technology and multi-platform worship capabilities to continue live-streaming as an on-going feature. We hired part-time camera/streaming and sound personnel to assist with the multi-platform technology. Through a grant program, we were able to add four electric car charging stations to the upper parking lot. We also launched a new website and started moving all Congregational documents into Google Workspace, to maintain continuous and complete documentation of our activities. Every team and committee was urged to update their charter and make sure they had a covenant. 

The congregation continued to provide food and supplies for the Navajo Nation and build relationships with folks there, including a youth group working to better the living conditions of people on the reservation. We also provided Christmas presents for a family at the Maryland School who were refugees from Uganda. 

2021 was the year that the Congregation passed the 8th Principle, affirming our commitment to dismantle racism and oppression.  Much of the programming in the fall of 2021 focused on what that meant for us as a congregation, including a monthly sermon series on the characteristics of white supremacy culture. 

The congregation celebrated the arrival of vaccines in early 2021 and there was a high rate of vaccination in the congregation. Despite that, many of our congregants got ill with the Delta and Omicron variants, although luckily none of the cases were serious or required hospitalization. The congregation is fortunate that they did not have any members die from COVID in the time of the pandemic, although some beloved members did die and the congregation learned how to do outdoor memorial services and memorial services (and a notable wedding of our Board president) via Zoom!

For further detailed information, please see our annual reports.


2022 – We had three different ways of doing worship—online with the worship team in the sanctuary, in-person outside, and then in April inside with masks while still offering streaming online.

UUCP continued to be committed to offering multi-platform services. We added new staff people to manage the technical aspects of streaming/online worship: Danny Doyle managing our streaming and cameras and Jade Barger managing sound. We hired Nick Laux as communications coordinator.

In the music program in the spring we had a series of guest artists. In March, the choir started singing together after two years off. UUCP member and former music director Connie Jahrmarkt offered to accompany the choir on a volunteer basis. In the summer singing was still only done by the choir with the congregation humming. In the fall small groups gradually began to regroup for key services and in December the congregation began singing hymns together again, masked.

In-person Children’s Ministries resumed. The long-delayed Installation of Rev. Christine Dance took place on September 17 along with a celebration of the 75th anniversary of our congregation. We had our first in-person holidays for two years: Water Communion, Dia de los Muertos and Christmas.

There was contextual change in how we reach people. With the new website, with Zoom and YouTube services, we got a lot of visitors who had already watched us and felt a part of our community before they ever stepped into the building. This led to a different kind of familiarity with the congregation than previously.


2023 – We fully moved to worship that included all ages, and the music program finally felt “post-COVID” in 2023, with the congregation singing together unmasked and the choir back at full size, eventually with a paid accompanist. Music director Benjie Messer led a band before choir to involve more musical members. And a major donor allowed for the purchase of a newer grand piano.

The sermon series for 2022-2023 Program Year was Hope for Collective Liberation from other World Religions.

Ministerial Intern Brigitta Vieyra was with us from March 2023 through February of 2024. She greatly assisted with the high number of funerals the congregation had, the safe congregation work that happened, and bolstering our Small Group Ministries.

We received a Homeland Security Grant and used it for numerous safety updates to the facility.

Attacks by White Christian Nationalists continued. The Safe Congregation Team policies and responses prepared us to deal with them. The congregation learned about how to flock together (rather than fight, flight, or flee). The Cactus Wrens were created to Report, Respond and Repair.

We re-launched the OWL (Our Whole Lives sexual education) program with 3 levels and 12 newly trained facilitators.

Kids Camp focused on addressing the needs of the kids most affected by the pandemic and lock-down.

The website and online newsletter were more fully integrated and automated.

We ran an incredibly successful fundraising auction ($22,000) and Close the Gap campaign ($36,000).

The parking lot islands were finished.

We set up a Critter cam in our Memorial garden, capturing the wide variety of wildlife that visited our campus.

The Early Education Cooperative (EEC), founded by UUCP in 1961 but now run as a separate organization, notified us that they would be moving to a larger facility in 2024.