Minister of Worship & Coming of Age
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie
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.
Minneapolis pianist Jerrod Wendland (D.M.A. from the U of M, B.M. from Oberlin) is a performer, educator and collaborator of the first order. Virtuosic and versatile, he is equally at home in classical or popular styles, in art song or opera, in the concert hall or the classroom. All of his activities are united by his conviction that every person has a unique artistic voice, that every performance is an improvisation, and that music is not a museum piece, but a living art.
He and his wife (mezzo-soprano Emily Greenleaf) live a hop, a skip and a jump away and teach from their home studio. When not playing or teaching, Jerrod reads all sorts of stuff, plans recitals of an unusual/educational nature, and teaches Latin to cats.