Pastor Craig Stanford became Pastor of Immanuel Ev. Lutheran on January 17, 1993. He grew up in a congregation of the American Lutheran Church.  His college career began at Joliet Junior College studying law enforcement.  He transferred to Carthage College, WI (LCA), then to Concordia College, Moorhead, MN where he graduated in 1984 with a B.A. in Religion and a B.S. in Philosophy. He then attended Luther-Northwestern Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN (ELCA), before joining the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and attending Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN. He graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary in 1991. Pastor Stanford also holds a paralegal certificate from Illinois Central College, which he earned in 2013.

Pastor Stanford has been an adjunct instructor at Illinois Central College (ICC), where he taught Philosophy, Comparative Religions, Social Ethics, and Business Ethics.  Due to the inability of the congregation to provide a full time salary, for the past ten years Pastor Stanford has worked outside the church in the commercial foodservice industry dealing in equipment and project management.  He earned a Paralegal Certificate after being laid off and for the past three years, he has worked as a paralegal.

For more than 25 years Pastor Stanford has lectured and written widely on the challenges facing Lutheranism and Christians.  He has written two books. The first a history and theology book on Lutheranism titled, “The Death of the Lutheran Reformation.”  The second book is a fantasy fiction in the tradition of CS Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien titled, “The Oracles and the Jewels, The Academy.”  He has also written the play, Martin Luther, A Beggar Before God, the Musical. 

Pastor Stanford is currently the Vice President of NAMI-Tri-County Illinois (  NAMI stands for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Over the past year, Pastor Stanford has begun to focus his attention on what God’s Word and the doctrine of the authentic Lutheran Church can contribute to our understanding of mental illness and how we ought to minister to sufferers and their families.

For all of his academic work, Pastor Stanford is an immensely practical and ordinary man. He has experienced good times and some bad in both his personal and professional life.  Dr. Martin Luther (1483 to 1546) taught that three things make a man a theologian: prayer (oratio), meditation/study (meditatio), and suffering and temptation (tentatio). These three have always been present in the life and vocation of Craig Stanford. This is why he takes comfort only in the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word and Sacrament Ministry of the Church. This is also why he brings the same to fellow sufferers.