We are halfway through celebrating our church workers as part of “Tomorrow’s Teachers & Preachers”. A very beautiful aspect of our Lutheran services is the first article gift of music. Directors of Parish Music, kantors, choir leaders, organists, and more work hard to create music that enhances and supports our services.
Today, read about Kantor Nathan Steele who has served Immanuel, Perryville since 2015. He attended Lutheran grade and high school in Wisconsin before attending Concordia, Mequon. And now, his whole week is filled with music: playing services, directing choirs of all age levels, teaching hymnody, and coordinating music for the church year. If that wasn’t enough, he also composes and arranges music!
Here is his story:
“Church work life and ministry has always been part of my family. My father, Rev. Robert Steele, is a second-career pastor who attended Fort Wayne seminary in the 1990s. My grandfather, Rev. Edwin Narr was also a church worker and pastor. Growing up in the church, I saw the best of Lutheranism: families blessed by God and led by His Word. My mother, Julie Steele, would often substitute as a church organist in our area. She taught me the piano when I was young and both of my parents nurtured my natural love for music – and especially the music of the Church. When it came time for me to settle on a vocation in which to serve God and my neighbor, it was a very natural choice to pursue the vocation of a parish musician at one of our synodical universities.
God granted me excellent teachers in my Lutheran education. Especially, in high school, my interest in theology began to take off. Mr. David Pratt taught apologetics classes to us in high school. He had us write in a journal each day about a theological topic. … I found the more I delved into God’s Word, the more I wanted to learn and grow in this faith. I will always be grateful to him because he encouraged me to be excited about the Scriptures, to use my imagination and creativity to explore God’s Word, to ask lots of questions, and to make this theological journey a life-long journey.
My most influential mentor as a theologian and as a church musician is Dr. James Freese. He served many years, mentoring student after student, as professor of parish music at Concordia University Wisconsin. He impressed upon me what this vocation entails by demonstrating it to me through his life-long service: music ministry is about humbly serving God’s people and encouraging them to lift their voices in songs of thanks and praise in response to the good gifts they have received from Christ, Himself, in the Divine Service. To be a church worker is to be a servant in God’s Church and to be a part of the Body of Christ and the communion of saints. I’ve always been blessed by God to be passionate about theology and music. It’s an honor and a privilege to serve in the Church as a kantor. Soli Deo Gloria!”