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Two cantors celebrate 30 years of ministry

Martin Luther called music one of the most delightful gifts God has given us. By that token, Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, has been twice blessed. In June, the congregation celebrated the 30th anniversaries of ordination and shared ministries of their cantors, Pastor Robert Buckley Farlee and Pastor Martin Seltz, both well-known names in Lutheran music circles.

The Rev. Kristine Carlson, pastor at Christ Church Lutheran (ELCA), Minneapolis, stands between the congregations two cantors, the Rev. Robert Buckley Farlee and the Rev. Martin Seltz. Photo provided by Christ Lutheran Church.

“I was the sole cantor, but when I went back to work at Augsburg Fortress, I didn’t think I could fulfill my role alone.” -Robert Buckley Farlee

Bob Farlee and his wife Jane Buckley-Farlee (pastor at Trinity Lutheran Congregation, ELCA, Minneapolis) were ordained on July 13, 1980, in St. Louis, Missouri, at Unity Lutheran Church, Bel-Nor. It was at Unity Lutheran that both Bob and Martin served as music directors at different times. Then in November of 1981, Bob joined the staff at Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, where he has served both as a pastor and as cantor.
Martin Seltz’s ordination was on December 30, 1979, at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Minneapolis. He served as pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Livonia, Michigan, from 1979 to 1994. He came to Christ Church Lutheran in 1994, and has shared the music ministry leadership since the fall of 2001.
“It’s quite unusual to have two cantors in one congregation,” explained Buckley Farlee. “I was the sole cantor, but when I went back to work at Augsburg Fortress [as senior editor for worship and music], I didn’t think I could fulfill my role [at Christ Church] alone.” Seltz was already a member at Christ, so the two cantors worked out sharing the position.
Both Buckley Farlee and Seltz are graduates of Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, Missouri. Both also serve on the worship editorial staff at Augsburg Fortress Publishers, and were deeply involved in the recent publication of Evangelical Lutheran Worship, the new book of worship for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. They are continuing to develop its supporting materials for this resource.
“The cantor position has a strong history in the Missouri Synod,” Buckley Farlee told Metro Lutheran. “This congregation also has a long history of good musical leadership.” He also feels the fact that both men are pastors helps with the sharing of the position.
Buckley Farlee said that he normally does the planning of music. “We alternate Sundays leading choir and playing organ,” he added. “And whoever is leading worship also leads the choir rehearsal the week before. Since our styles are so similar, it doesn’t really make much difference.”

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