Pastor of the Week: Jim Sonnefield

By: Dezaray Barr

Jim Sonnefield

Jim Steven Sonnefield is the Assistant Pastor and oversees Adult Ministries at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a masters degree in Christian Leadership in 2011, after previously receiving his undergraduate degrees in Education from Indiana State University and Ball State University.

When asked about his transition from education, where he spent 28 years teaching middle school and 7 teaching high school, into full time ministry, Sonnefield said, “After many years of teaching in Marion, I realized that there was more that I wanted to do with people than being in the classroom and coaching athletes. I wanted to spend more time getting to know people and to share in their spiritual journey.” This desire lead him to begin this new journey of earning his masters degree at age 53. Early on he recalls struggling with confidence, being that he was around 25 years older than the next oldest men in the program. But with each class, he grew in his assurance, as he begun feeling more in step with those who were already in full-time ministry.

His time at IWU was very special. Sonnefield greatly enjoyed getting to know and learn from Dr. Ken Schenck, Dr. Todd Guy, Dr. Eddie Shigley and Dr. Jim Vermilya. While he enjoyed everything he learned, he valued the communal aspect of IWU and definitely enjoyed his on-sight classes more that his online classes. He said that many of the peers he studied alongside during his courses are still his friends and colleagues today.

From his early teen years, Sonnefield was always involved somehow in ministry. He has always felt it was a calling on his life, but it became especially evident in the last ten years of his time working in public school education. This transition, then, was a natural step forward in faith, one that he always felt the call towards, that he accepted at the right time.

There have been challenges though, in taking on a life of pastor-ship and full-time ministry. As someone who values connection, Sonnefield has found the time constraints that come with helping shepherd a church body to be taxing. He has to very intentional to find time to connect with other congregants and accept that he cannot possibly know everyone as well as he would like to. He said cultivating relationships takes time and is all about building trust and becoming involved in their spiritual lives.

Sonnefield has found a lot of freedom in knowing that things take time and that while he cannot intimately know everyone, he can give them opportunities to get involved and he can continue to share with them as a Body. Over the last five years, he’s found finding a balance between ministry and family life to be challenging as well, especially early on when he was still coaching and teaching full-time as well. When his wife, Sue, retired from her teaching position, she became an integral part of managing his pastoral duties. He said, “She is a tremendous help in what I do each week.”

Lakeview Wesleyan Church has around 600 congregants, 400 of them being full members. Uniquely, the church has a counseling center comprised of nine licensed counselors. They also have a large children’s program, K-12 school and preschool within the church, and almost 75 employees on the church staff overall. They have also sent out several missionaries who serve around the globe.

Sonnefield said that his two favorite verses are Proverbs 27:17, which reads “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” and Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all time, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” He loves the communal emphasis both verses bring to the forefront of the readers mind.

His wisdom to current IWU students is, “Step out, take some risks, push yourself to do things you never thought you could ever do. You are on a wonderful journey, a process that will transform you, and God has given you everything you need to serve Him and others.”



Written by Kendra Housel, writer for the Alumni Center. Kendra is a sophomore Education and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. She is also a member of the University Chorale. She is passionate about serving Christ through writing, singing and caring for others.

Pastor of the Week: Tim McClellan

By: Dezaray Barr

Tim McClellan is the Senior Pastor at Lakeview Wesleyan Church in Marion, IN. Pastor Tim was honored as pastor of the week when the series first began, but no article was published about him. He graduated from Milligan College in 1973 with a degree in religion. He also attended Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.

Although McClellan never attended Indiana Wesleyan University, Dr. Wilbur Williams is one of his favorite people. “I brought him to our church at Cedar Valley Community Church in Waterloo, IA many years ago to do some presentations for our congregation. In the years following, we went to the Holy Land a couple of times under his leadership.  From that church, we also connected IWU with one of our members who later became the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at IWU for a number of years and who significantly impacted the World Changers program.”

McClellan’s father was a pastor as well. “I was always proud of his calling and thankful to be his son. He became a role model for me early on, and I wanted to be like him and do what he did just because I respected him so much,” McClellan shared. “As I entered my high school years and began thinking about my future as most young people do during those years, I thought much about how I would serve God.  As I prayed and meditated, I was never ever able to find peace in my heart doing anything else than building up the local church as a pastor. I had peace about that decision back then and still do today after beginning to serve local churches since 1970.”

As the pastor of Lakeview, McClellan has spent a lot of time rebuilding the church financially, in their credibility and in the vision. “Thanks be to God we are well underway, but it has been a journey of patience and persistence. God is good and the people courageous,” McClellan said.

The church also hosts Lakeview Christian School, which is Kindergarten through 12th grade. It hosts a Pre-School Childcare ministry which ministers birth through Pre-School and Lakeview Counseling Center which ministers to nearly 1,000 clients each month.  “These ministries, along with the church, proper provide tremendous spiritual influence to hundreds and thousands of people in Grant County throughout the year,” McClellan said.

McClellan claims Psalm 126:5-6 as his favorite passage. “It calls me over and over again to work at sharing my faith and encouraging others to do the same,” he said.

McClellan encourages IWU students to, “Pay little attention to the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ in your service to Christ. It’s the long view in loving and serving Jesus that you need to keep in view. Never give in to the enemy of your faith and always love and support the local church.”

McClellan is especially grateful for his wife and partner in ministry, Cynthia, who has been with him since 1970. They have four children. Their son, Peter, graduated from IWU and earned his M. Div. at Southern Baptist Seminary. He now lives in Louisville with his wife Karrie and daughter Charlotte. McClellan’s oldest daughter Christians, lives in Champlin, MN with her husband and three children where she serves as a nurse. Their youngest daughter, Liz, graduated from IWU earned her M. Div. at Asbury Seminary. She and her husband Michael, along with their daughter, are serving the Lord in Newberg, OR. Their oldest son, David, went to be with the Lord at age 14 in 2001 after fighting bone cancer for a little over a year.



Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. At IWU, Dezaray runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at