The Polarity of Existence 

Rev. Terry Sims  | January 10, 2021

The Rev. Kirk Loadman-Copeland writes: “It is not clear if life is joy punctuated by tragedy, or tragedy punctuated by joy.” We live forever between the poles of existence, between desolation and consolation, but the Rev. Dr. John Buehrens tells us that the way we live in that space “matters forever.”



Amy St. Peter, Guest Speaker  | January 3, 2021

Each day we may walk into the unknown, into unseen growth, challenges, and mysteries. As we depart 2020 and step into unseen experiences awaiting us in 2021, we can pause for a moment, gather our breath, reflect on what we have learned, and prepare to welcome the new year.


A Commitment to Kindness 

Rev. Terry Sims  | December 27, 2020

As we end one year and move into a new one, I find myself asking what I would commit to doing to enhance my own life and to reify my vague longing to do my part to make the world a better place. I am reminded of what the great storyteller, Aesop, said: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”


Leaving a Rose in the Snow 

Rebecca Riggs, Guest Speaker  | December 20, 2020

What is the symbol of a rose blooming in the winter cold trying to tell us? Using stories and music, this will be a Christmas reflection on giving and receiving. Sometimes we are the giver of gifts – sometimes the recipient – and both can lead to deeper understandings, healing, and joy.


Lessons and Carols (adapted for these times)

UUCS Musicians  | December 13, 2020

Although we do not have our choir back yet, our Music Director, Debby Bullins, has inspired Connie Jahrmarkt, violin, Rev. Terry Sims, cello, and Kent Trostel, piano, to join her in creating music for the holidays. In this service, traditional Christmas music will be interwoven with the spoken word about the healing we and the world need now.


Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Religious Education Dept.  | December 6, 2020

You will not want to miss this inventive, fun, and educational story on the themes of Hanukkah; the struggle to overcome adversity, freedom from oppression, and moving from darkness to light. The children in our RE program will dramatize and sing the story for us, and you will hear lively, traditional Jewish klezmer music; all to begin our holiday season.

Coming Home to the Place that Never Leaves Us

Rev. Terry Sims | November 29, 2020

Having an abiding sense of what fills our spirits seem to come naturally to children, but adults seem to have to make time to rediscover it. When we do, it can feel that we are returning to a place we know, that feels like the only home we ever had or will ever need.


Spirituality as Constant Thankfulness

Rev. Terry Sims | November 22, 2020

Holidays have a way of focusing us on something that could be with us throughout the year, but often is not. As we approach Thanksgiving, we will look at how the spiritual qualities of awareness and appreciation might stay with us not only this week, but throughout our lives.


Riddle Me This…

Rev. Emrys Staton | November 15, 2020

Can a joke lead to spiritual enlightenment? Many spiritual leaders and teachers rely on clever riddles, koans, and short stories to help us break out of rigid thought patterns and gain insightful breakthroughs. We will explore some of these ancient teachings and some modern ones. Until then, you can contemplate the famous Zen koan, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

The Faces of Spirituality

Rev. Terry Sims | November 8, 2020

What do we mean when we use the word “spirituality”? There are many definitions, of course. Maybe the reason we fail to agree on what we mean is the same reason we can never adequately tell others about whom and what we love; we know the feeling, but it wears a different face for each of us.

Living Intelligently with our Emotions

Rev. Terry Sims | November 1, 2020

Daniel Goleman, author of the book Emotional Intelligence, says: If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” This sermon will explore how understanding our emotions can help us come closer to living the lives we are longing to live.

A Radical Welcome

Alex Kapitan | October 25, 2020

In 2001, our church was certified as a Welcoming Congregation. We are hoping to be recertified this year. The renewal process invites us again to consider how truly welcoming we are to all people, regardless of whether they are like us. As part of that process, this service will challenge us and remind us that we can always grow into the next stage of who we can become.

Feeling Spirituality

Rev. Terry Sims | October 18, 2020

Two centuries ago, Unitarian minister, Ralph Waldo Emerson, famously remarked that our chosen religion was “corpse-cold”. The fact is that many of us are much more comfortable with ideas than we are with our feelings, but Emerson and others have pointed the way to a theology that recognizes what we really yearn for is a spirituality that lets us feel more alive.

What do my Feelings have to do with my Soul, Anyway?

Rev. Terry Sims | October 11, 2020

In other words, why on earth would we talk about emotions in church? The questions suggest their own answers, don’t they? If our souls encompass the whole of who we are and call us to the fullness of life, we might want to pay attention to the emotions that figure so prominently in how we live.


Vote Love, Defeat Hate

Unitarian Universalist Association | October 4, 2020

This video will focus on getting us excited and involved in voting our UU values in this most important election on November 3, 2020.

Thus Do We Covenant

Rev. Christine Dance | September 27, 2020

Unitarian Universalism is a “Covenantal Tradition.” What does that mean? What are we covenanting to do together? Why does it matter? We will talk about how important covenantal relationships are anytime, but particularly now when we’re in a pandemic.

The Other Side of Worth and Dignity

Rev. Terry Sims | September 20, 2020

I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about all the positive aspects of affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person. I want to consider what happens when we do not practice our First Principle because I believe that, too, can reinforce our commitment to it.

The First Principle – You Can’t Be Serious!

Rev. Terry Sims | September 13, 2020

Affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person, our First Principle is not settled, not easy, not unquestionable, not inevitable. It is the “every person” part that hangs us up. In this service, we will ask ourselves whether we actually believe our First Principle, and, if we do, whether we can practice it toward everyone, including those we dislike the most.

Belonging to a Community

Rev. Anthony Mtsuaswa Johnson | September 6, 2020

Anthony is currently Director for Congregational Life at the UU Congregation of Phoenix, AZ. A former US Army Office, he holds a MDiv from the Starr King School of Ministery and a Master’s  in Human Learning and Development. Anthony was born a Baptist in the South, raised as a Muslim in the North, and never accepting either, became a UU in 2012. He has 20+ years in creative media production and executive management experience while remaining active in social justice since the late 1960’s.

History of the UU Church in Surprise – Part II, 1995-2015

Dr. Bonnie Saunders | August 30, 2020

More momentous events occurred during this period. Among the most notable were the calling of the Rev. Dr. Walter F. Wieder as the second full-time, settled minister in 1996, the dedication of the current church building in 1999, the beginning of Religious Education in 2000 for a growing number of children – up to 25 on a Sunday by 2007 when RE began to flourish in earnest, and the calling of the Rev. Terry Sims as the third, full-time, settled minister in 2012.

History of the UU Church in Surprise – Part I, 1975-1995

Dr. Bonnie Saunders | August 23, 2020

The information in this sermon comes from the excellent history of the first 20 years of this church, written in 1995 by Doris Melleney Thompson. Among the most momentous events were the calling of the first full-time, settled minister, the Rev. Dr. Nathaniel P. Lauriet in 1985, and the renovation of a bank building in 1990 to serve as the first church home for the UU community.

Of Lemmings and Leaders

Rev. Cathy Corbin Mannino | August 16, 2020

Understanding (and avoiding) the call of the cult.

Nesting Dolls

Amy St. Peter, Guest Speaker | August 9, 2020

We live our life in layers, public faces protecting inner selves. Like nesting dolls, these layers each have a story and a purpose. Consider your own layers and how each feeds your innermost soul.




Healing Waters

Amy St. Peter, Guest Speaker | August 2, 2020

Water gives us life, it cleanses, refreshes, and offers adventures and moments of serenity. Explore the spiritual implications of water in our desert home.




Finding Home

Rebecca Riggs, Guest Speaker | July 26, 2020

During the unsettled, in-between times of life, we long for the security of what is known and trusted. But we don’t have a common creed to fall back on…only a common covenant. What is it we promise each other? Is this spiritual home without definite answers enough?




Jesus Wept

Rev. Cathy Corbin-Mannino | July 19, 2020

How to live a compassionate life…and not drown in our own tears.



Liminal Space: Living Betwixt and Between

Juliet Gustavson, Guest Speaker | July 12, 2020

We are all in a waiting room, living betwixt and between what was and what will be. But each of us is individually determining how we wait in this liminal space. What if we can choose to experience this liminal space and time, this uncomfortable now, as a place and state of creativity, of construction and deconstruction, choice and transformation? Sheryl Fullerton



The Good Things That are Kind of Hard to See Right Now

Pat Lindgren, Guest Speaker | July 5, 2020

Thoughts from the Past President of the Board of Directors at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Surprise, Arizona.


Worship at General Assembly

UUA GA Live Stream | June 28, 2020

Experience the largest annual worship gathering of UU’s in the comfort of your own home. The worship service will include a collection for the Tomaquag Muscuem, an indigenous museum featuring an extensive collection and archive of Southern New England tribal communities.


A Father is Born and Reborn

by Chaplain Emrys Staton | June 21, 2020

In this service, we celebrate both Father’s Day and the summer solstice where Emrys Staton will explore the recent birth of his son and also the birth of a new identity as father. Looking to the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, we will explore how our own identities and experiences are constantly being reborn during our lifetimes.



by Rev. Cathy Corbin-Mannino | June 14, 2020

Peace, liberty and justice for all, and even democracy itself are ideals. It’s imperative that we learn how to turn idealism into realism now.



by Amy St. Peter, Guest speaker | June 7, 2020

Altars and canvases, ministers and muses,drawing and faith share common synergies. Explore how we draw our faith and how our faith draws us in to experience beautiful connections within and among us.

KEEPING THE SABBATH – The Pause that Refreshes

by Rev. Cathy Corbin-Mannino | May 31, 2020

At this time as a nation, many of us have had a sabbath rest foisted upon us. We have not entered this sabbath rest as a religious observance, it is due to the coronavirus. What if we thought of this time as the Jews considered the Sabbath – the most sacred of times?


by Rev. Terry Sims | May 24, 2020

It seems that life would be simpler and greatly improved if we could just seek out what is good and avoid what is bad. But, as most of us know, life has never been simple like that. And that means that we need a spiritual understanding of, and a way to cope with, a complex life filled with both joy and suffering


by Rev. Terry Sims | May 17, 2020

Who bears responsibility for the state of the world? It is tempting to personify both good and evil. But our tendency to do so may only distract us from realities about the randomness of the universe and our own responsibility.


by Bill Chartrand, PhD| May 10, 2020

Language is not a neutral medium of communication. Words are not balls we toss back and forth. They are symbolic representations of our personal experience of reality. Our past experiences and cultural conditioning determine the meanings and interpretations we make as we encode and decode messages. All communication results in at least partial misunderstanding.


by Rev. Terry Sims| May 3, 2020

What do we mean when we say something is good or, probably more to the point, evil? Is it only actions that should be described with those adjectives or are people both or neither? Can we square our answer to that question with our First UU Principle, the inherent worth and dignity of every person? We will tackle those hard questions and more in this service.


by Amy St. Peter | April 26, 2020

When we’re splintered by distractions and torn by turmoil, it’s easy to lose ourselves and our focus. The impetus to “just be” doesn’t seem enough, yet at times its all we have and everything for which we strive. If we cannot just be, we cannot be anything else. This sermon will explore the quiet moments and constructive chaos when we may just be.


by Rev. Terry Sims | April 19, 2020

When I discovered Unitarian humanism, I thought that I had finally gotten hold of a religion I could believe in, in contrast to a God that I could not. But people have asked me, derisively, “What is a religion without God” Have we UU humanists dispensed with God?


by Rev. Terry Sims | April 12, 2020

Human beings have always searched for one god or many. We keep hoping to find ourselves in our gods, imagining that they have human characteristics raised to supreme level. Maybe we would be better served by searching for what is divine in ourselves and in in all that surrounds us.

Holding It, Together

by Rev. Terry Sims | April 5, 2020

I am not alone.  You are not alone.  We are not alone.  Together, we can hold it all together.

We’ve Been Here Before, but We’re Not Going Back: Lessons on Pandemic from Marginalized Communities

by Janine Gelsinger | March 29, 2020

Find the Covid-19 Mutual-Aid Facebook Group (discussed in the sermon) and instructions to start your own mutual aid pod at
The link for the petition discussed in the sermon is

Forgiveness: Restoring What is Broken

by Rev. Terry Sims | March 22, 2020

What keeps us from practicing forgiveness, even though we recognize it as a virtue? When we have been wronged or hurt, we often want to see those who have acted against us punished, to see justice done. But restoring relationships by forgiving each other may be a deeper justice.

Forgiving to Move Forward

by Rev. Terry Sims | March 15, 2020

Sometimes the mistakes we have made and the hurts we have received threaten to consume us and trap us in the past, but if we could forgive ourselves and others, we could let go of the past and move toward a brighter future.

A Musical Production

by Rev. Julian Rush | March 8, 2020

Hear about one pilgrim and his lifelong journey to become a worthy person who even Jesus would find satisfactory..

The Promise of Forgiveness

by Rev. Terry Sims | March 1, 2020

A wrong hurts people on both sides. Equally, forgiveness blesses those on each side. So forgiveness might be the most promising course ahead – what humanity needs most. That doesn’t make it easy.

Do it with a Doula: Enlisting Support for Beginning and End of Life

by Rev. Emrys Staton | February 23, 2020

An exploration of the growing availability of doulas and midwives to guide us through life’s significant transitions.

Freedom and Glad Giving

by Rev. Terry Sims | February 16, 2020

What if we all tithed in all areas of life, not just money, but also gave away 10% of our time and talents, too? In my life, I have given too often out of obligation and too seldom out of joy, but if I can loosen the bonds of attachment, maybe I could be liberated from my own stinginess to find joy in giving.

Letting Go, Breaking Free

by Rev. Terry Sims | February 9, 2020

The Buddha knew the power of our attachments to everything; that what we cling to imprisons us. Buddhist teacher, Sharon Salzberg, says: “Generosity generates its power from…letting go”. Maybe practicing generosity could finally let us break free of the prisons that hold us.

The Year of Living Generously

by Rev. Terry Sims | February 2, 2020

What would happen if this year, more than we have in the past, we made a conscious effort to live generously in all kinds of ways? What would change? I think we might become fountains of grace, replenishing ourselves as we help nurture others.

Lead When Called

by Rev. Terry Sims | January 26, 2020

Is Unitarian Universalism called to lead the world? By what authority would we dare try? Do we have the leadership qualities that will inspire others to follow? This sermon includes the New Chalice Ceremony Dedication. Chalice created by Paul Byerly.

Singing Our Living Tradition

by Rev. Kellie Walker Hart | January 19, 2020

Join Kellie Walker Hart as she shares how people can be transformed by the healing power of music and its ability to bring people together through life’s transitions.

Leading Indicators

by Rev. Terry Sims | January 12, 2020

What qualities and indicators show leadership? Who are we willing to follow and why? Spiritual traditions and some leaders show us what the world needs and what it does not.

On Whose Authority?

by Rev. Terry Sims | January 5, 2020

What is “authority”? What and whom do we trust enough to relinquish what we want, believe, or do to follow instead what an “authority” tells us? Unitarian Univeralists are generally not quick to acknowledge others’ authority over us, but that does not mean legitimate authority does not exist.

Unitarian Universalist Church in Surprise

We welcome you!
Sundays at 10:30am

17540 N Avenue of the Arts
Surprise, AZ 85378
(623) 875-2550

A Progressive, Inclusive Faith Community