Ministerial Staff

Heather Hills

Minister of Music

An avid musician, Heather Hills has been studying music since the age of eight, when she began taking piano lessons. Her studies led her to work with a variety of teachers, including Jae Cho, Kyu Rhee, Claire Longendyke, and Benjamin Rollings. Heather found homeschooling to be a blessing as it enabled her to make ample time for her musical studies. She added harp at 13, studying under Andre Tarantiles, and went on to earn several awards on both instruments. These include performing on piano at Carnegie Hall after earning the most prestigious placement in the American Fine Arts Festival auditions and winning the concerto competition for the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County with a Vivaldi harp concerto. She attended Indiana University to earn her bachelor of music in harp performance, graduating in December 2014 with highest distinction. While there she studied with such distinguished harpists as Susann McDonald, Elzbieta Szmyt, and Maria Luisa Rayan and performed in several solo recitals and many large ensemble concerts with the university’s top ensembles.
Following graduation she moved to Raleigh, where she was blessed to find her parents’ new home church in need of a pianist. Raised in a Christian home, Heather has always brought her music before the Lord in church and is thrilled to be able to serve regularly at Swift Creek Baptist. She is now setting up shop in Raleigh as a professional freelancer on both harp and piano and performs at private events, in recital as a soloist, as an accompanist, and with the occasional local orchestra. With teaching and arranging thrown into the mix, Heather is managing to stay very busy making music!
Although she currently resides with her parents and two cats in a suburb of Raleigh, Heather was raised on a quiet country road in a rural area of New Jersey. The proximity of biking paths along the beautiful Delaware River and the wonders of a backyard pool fostered keen enjoyment of outdoor activities such as biking, swimming, and hiking. Homeschooled from second grade, she developed a love of history, literature, travel, and music that persists to this day. When she is not practicing, enjoying the out-of-doors, or dancing (her latest pastime), she can often be found plying a needle and thread, as she still considers sewing to be the most relaxing of her many hobbies.

Rowena N. Rantanen

Organist

Rowena was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 7 years old. She was raised primarily in Greenfield, Massachusetts, then attended the University of Massachusetts, where she received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Music. She and her nuclear family eventually moved to Palm Bay, Florida, where they lived for 10 years before moving to Apex, North Carolina a little over a year ago. In addition to being the Organist for Swift Creek Baptist Church, Rowena teaches piano/keyboard lessons through her own company, RNR Performing Arts, as well as Prelude Music Academy and School of Rock. She is a member of both the North Carolina Music Federation and the Cary-Apex Piano Teachers Association.

Rowena has been a church musician since she was 19, working in different capacities including Organist, Choir Director, Pianist, Liturgical Dance Instructor, and Minister of Music. Churches she has worked for include Robbins Memorial Church, South Deerfield Congregational Church, First Congregational Church in Greenfield, and Leverett Congregational Church, all in Massachusetts; and Christ United Methodist Church and Wesley United Methodist Church in Florida.

A performing artist since age 5, Rowena has also been involved in musical productions for over 45 years, having worn several hats including Director, Producer, Music Director, Choreographer, Dance Captain, Stage Manager, Costume Mistress, Properties Mistress, and various principal and ensemble theatre roles.  Rowena is also a retired dance teacher, a published playwright, and the founder of RMC Fairy Tale Theatre, FUMC Theatre Ministry Group, and several ensembles (both dance and instrumental).

Rowena has been married to her husband, Eric, for 26 years. They have four wonderful adult children – Steven and Elysse, who both live and work in Florida; Katie, who lives with Rowena and Eric while she focuses on completing her college education; and Laura, who is a full-time student at the University of Florida in Gainesville.