The Congregational Church of Topsfield
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.
Amy Bruch, Associate Minister
Amy joined the church as Associate Minister for Children and Youth in September of 2014. Ordained just over 25 years ago, Amy has served churches in Old Lyme, CT, Lenox, MA and Norwell, MA. She has also served preparatory schools, including Phillips Exeter Academy, Dana Hall School and Miss Hall's School as chaplain and teacher of Religion, Ethics and Ceramics. She has long enjoyed working with young people as they think about who they are and where they might be called their lives. Amy is also a potter and creates liturgical pottery which she sells at clergy conferences in New England. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary, Amy's thesis combined her theological studies with her clay work. You can view her work on her website, amybruch.com
In recent years, Amy's ministry has also focused on liturgical arts. She creates installations for worship spaces both seasonally and for specific themed worship services. She believes that the purpose of liturgical art work is to illuminate the scripture, to enhance the experience of worship, to involve laity in the liturgy and to cultivate beauty. For several years, Amy offered on-site liturgical arts classes at churches around New England.
Amy comes from a large family and grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. She loves chocolate and used to run a lot, but awaits inspiration as to how she will now reconcile these two facts. Amy loves animals and strives to create something from her hands every day.
Kim Karchenes, Music Director and Organist
Kim has been involved in church music since she began playing for St. Susanna’s Parish in Dedham, MA when she was a teenager. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Lowell and has been a performing classical pianist for the past 25 years. She has performed extensively throughout Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire as a soloist and accompanist. She was guest pianist with the Thayer Symphony Orchestra, has played Mass at St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Italy, has played an Episcopalian Service in Denmark, and has performed at Carnegie Hall with the Tim Janis Christmas Ensemble. She currently is accompanist for Seacoast Community Chorus and Seaglass Performing Arts as well as being staff pianist for the Marshwood Middle School Choruses. She is a member of the UCC Musicians Association and holds a Professional Certificate in Sacred Music from Virginia Wesleyan College.
Kim oversees the music program here and conducts the Chancel Choir, Bell Choir and Children’s Choir. She believes there is a strong connection between music and worship which helps us link our hearts and minds with God through a wide variety of musical offerings.
She lives with her husband Dana next door to her mother in Cape Neddick, Maine. When not practicing she loves tending her vegetable and rose gardens, playing with her German Shepherd Kiersa and searching for that next big “find” in the local flea markets.
Wendy Colby, Communications and Office Manager
Wendy 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 extensive office management and communication experience in churches as well as business settings.
Wendy and her husband, Herb live in Hampton, NH. Her hobbies include music and art, playing the piano, cooking, and reading.
Larry Atkins, Pastoral Care, 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.
Rasheed Townes, Youth Ministry Assistant
Rasheed Townes assists the Associate Minister for Children and Youth in planning events for the families of the CCoT and outreach events for the wider community. He was baptized into the church in 2015, and was slightly disappointed to learn that this won't protect him from "Highlanders" or "vampires." Rasheed is graduating from Andover Newton Theological School in 2018 with a Masters Degree in Theology. He once pretended to know what "Hamilton" is about to get out of a conversation. Rasheed loves sports and pop culture. Particularly, he loves to look at the connection between pop culture, folklore and Christian Theology. He has two children. He can't remember their names, as he usually identifies them by smell.