Worship Team


Minister of Worship & Coming of Age

Rev. Ruth MacKenzie
612.825.1701×127 ruth@firstuniv.org

Ruth grew up in Littleton, Colorado. As a girl, she found solace and Spirit in the big mountains outside her home, and in the work and life of Christ the King Lutheran Church, where her family was very active. At age nineteen, she quit college and moved to Minneapolis to begin a career as a singer. Since then, her compass has led her in many creative directions. She performed concerts throughout the United States and the Nordic countries. Her theatrical creations: Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden, The Snow Queen, and Theotokos, were produced by the Guthrie Theatre, The Children’s Theater Company, and O’Shaughnessy Auditorium. Ruth found Unitarian Universalism as she looked for a faith tradition that aligned more closely with her beliefs, and joined Unity Church Unitarian in 1995. Endeavoring to deepen her creative work and religious life, Ruth began studying at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Her compass began pointing in a new direction, that of ministry and artistry. She received her Master of Divinity degree in the spring of 2011. She served as Ministerial Intern at First Universalist in 2010/2011, and was hired as Worship Arts Director soon after. As Minister of Worship Arts, Ruth oversees Sunday worship. She curates and coordinates music, visual arts, and choreography for each service, creates intergenerational services, leads the Worship Associates team, comprised of lay leaders. She leads the Coming of Age class each year, and the Worship Arts Camp for youth in the summer. Her goal is to craft opportunities for congregants of all ages to experience the enlivening power of creativity.


Director of Choral Arts

Dr. Randal Buikema

A member of the First Universalist staff since September 2011, Randy Buikema’s education credits include a bachelor’s degree from Augustana College; a Master of Arts degree from Western Illinois University; and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Iowa. During the 2009-2010 academic year, Dr. Buikema taught at Mahidol University College of Music in Bangkok, Thailand. Highlights of his time there include conducting performances for the King’s birthday celebration and for the ASEAN summit. Dr. Buikema created the Westminster Fine Arts Series in Des Moines, Iowa, and served as its Artistic Director for 16 years. The series was recognized by the NEA and the Iowa Arts Council for its quality and innovative programming in the areas of music, theater, visual arts and dance. He also formed the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus. Dr. Buikema is a member of the music faculty at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, where he conducts choirs and teaches class piano.


Franco Holder

Franco Holder hails from Indiana and has worked for many years as freelance musician in the Twin Cities. Franco has performed with the Kenwood Symphony Orchestra and at such venues as the Schubert Club, Baroque Room, and Nimbus Theater. He holds a B.M. degree in Piano Performance from Indiana University, as well as a degree in Religious Studies from Iowa State University. Franco is a piano/music teacher at Hopewell Music Cooperative North, an organization committed to empowering community and enriching lives through accessible high quality music education. Franco loves helping students reach their potential through music and has taught piano for more than twenty years. He is an active member of the Minnesota Music Teachers Association.