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Stefan Sonnenfeld


This series profiles the men and women who are preparing for the public teaching and preaching
ministry at our Immanuel Lutheran College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. 

Age: 31

Program: Seminary

Year in School: Senior

Where were you born? La Crosse, Wisconsin

Where did you grow up? 

Winona, Minnesota. I also lived in Fargo, North Dakota, for four years after I got married.

Married? Unmarried? Tell us about your family. 

I have been married to Sarah Sonnenfeld (née Naumann) for eight years. She is a pharmacist. We have two children—Ingrid (two and a half) and Elijah (nine months).

What hobbies, sports,
or extracurriculars interest you?

Golf, reading, cooking, watching football and old movies.

Tell us one thing about yourself
that most people don’t know.

I probably have the record for the shortest ILC flag football career—two and a half games. I was also probably the oldest rookie, at twenty-seven.

Which academic subjects especially interest you?

Dogmatics, Hebrew, Greek, Church History

How did you first come to consider the public teaching or preaching ministry as a career?

I had a good relationship with my childhood pastor, and admired his job. I didn’t know that I wanted to do it until my freshman year of high school, when I figured I should put my Latin to good use (little did I know that Latin was not required at ILC!). Spending time shadowing pastors in subsequent years reinforced my excitement for spreading the Gospel in the preaching ministry, and years of study in pre-theology cemented my desire to remain in God’s Word and to teach and preach it to others.

What have you appreciated most
about your time at ILC?

When I first came to ILC, I had been a CLC member for a little less than five years. I hardly knew anybody and was intimidated by the close ties that so many people have with others. ILC was a quick way to get to know people from all over the CLC. It’s been great to become familiar with my brothers and sisters in Christ both locally and abroad. Also, after a few years spent outside of a Christian school, it’s been wonderful to once again delve into God’s Word on a daily basis with my fellow believers. ILC’s great strength is the faculty’s God-given ability to excite students who want to pursue the public ministry by showing the great blessings God gives through the preaching and teaching of His Word.

What qualities do you think will most
be needed by the future leaders of the church?

Though it’s been nearly two thousand years since the apostle Paul wrote the pastoral handbook for Timothy (1 Timothy), Paul’s inspired advice to that young pastor is still the standard for today’s leaders in the church. “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. . . .  Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:12-13,15-16)  The “bottom line” is that a leader of the church must remain in the Word, and all that he does must stem from the true doctrine of sin and grace and our justification through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.