Marthinus Riekert, Senior Minister
Martin brings a broad world view and a passion for tolerance, inclusion, and justice to his ministry. He became senior minister of the Congregational Church of Topsfield in December 2013. His ministerial experience spans three continents and 25 years. Originally from South Africa, Martin studied at the University of Pretoria and was ordained through the Dutch Reformed Church of Africa. After several years of service, first as a military chaplain and later as a university chaplain, Martin left the ministry and found employment in the financial and investment industry. He was a founding member and director of a training institute for leaders of African Indigenous Churches. Following that he worked in community restoration projects throughout Africa. Responding to the invitation of a friend, Martin explored returning to ministry with the United Church of Christ as a potential church home.
Martin fell in love with the UCC, finding peace in our denomination which encourages openness, embraces freedom of conscience, and welcomes diversity of opinion. After the long process to obtain "privilege of call," he answered a call to pastor a UCC church in New Smyrna Beach, Florida and emigrated to the United States in 1998. Martin subsequently became senior minister of The Congregational Church in Middlebury, Vermont. Later, drawn by the need of an Afrikaans-speaking South African immigrant community, he made the difficult decision to move to Auckland, New Zealand to pastor a new church there. Six years in New Zealand convinced Martin and his family that their hearts belong to the United States and the UCC. He returned to the US, answering the call to the Topsfield church. Martin journeys through life with his beloved wife, Christa, and their son, MJ. He loves to read, garden, and tinker. His book collection, culled regularly because of many moves, is nonetheless prodigious. He enjoys nothing so much as a good conversation. A rugby and lacrosse enthusiast, Martin is well on his way to becoming a fan of the local sports scene.
Jackson Carruthers, Music Director and Organist
A native of Northeast Ohio, Jackson Carruthers is a musician of wide-ranging endeavors. As a church musician, he has served congregations of multiple traditions as organist, pianist, and choir director. His musical interests include the music of American pianist-composers, early American hymnody and Sacred Harp singing, the music of Franz Liszt, and ragtime and stride piano.
Carruthers has performed frequently as a classical soloist, collaborative pianist, and jazz musician. He previously served on the faculty of the University of Akron and taught privately in the Northeast Ohio area. Carruthers holds the degrees of Master of Music in Piano Performance from Bowling Green State University and Bachelor of Arts in Music summa cum laude from the University of Akron.
Kim Love, Communications and Office Manager
Kim manages all aspects of the church office including leasing of the church facility. She is also responsible for planning, designing and publishing church communications, correspondence and production of publications as well as scheduling coordinator for the master calendar of the church.
She has been a Northshore native her whole life and a former member of St. John the Baptist Church in Peabody where she taught Sunday School before college. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Gordon College in Wenham. She was able to study abroad in Spain, intern in San Francisco at an elementary school, and join a Mission trip to Managua, Nicaragua.
She and her husband James have two boys, James Jr. and Isaac, as well as their Australian Labradoodle, Kona. They have lived in Topsfield for over 10 years where Kim enjoys working within the community, volunteering at her son’s school, and being a Board member at the Topsfield Council on Aging. During her down time, Kim loves bird watching, cooking, and music.
Larry Atkins, Pastoral Care
Larry is a long-time member of the Congregational Church of Topsfield. Larry grew up in the Methodist Church and became a part of the United Church of Christ when he relocated to NewEngland in 1974. He has served in a number of leadership positions in the local church as well as the Mass.Conference of the United Church of Christ.
At the present time Larry is working as group therapy leader in the Senior Adult Unit at Addison Gilbert Hospital, a unit of Northeast Health System. He is also the overnight on call chaplain at Beverly Hospital and spends two days a week as a chaplain at the Hospice of the North shore and Greater Boston.
Recently, he finished a three year course of study preparing for work as a Pastoral Counselor. He is now a Certified Pastoral Counselor through the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.
Larry holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Tennessee Wesleyan College and a Master of Arts in Education Counseling from Tennessee Technological University. He has completed several courses in Pastoral Counseling from Andover Newton Theological School.