GERMANY – On September 22, 2021, Rev. Dr. Jobst Schöne, Bishop Emeritus of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche – SELK) finished his earthly race. He was 89 years old.
The International Lutheran Council’s (ILC) Chairman, Hans-Jörg Voigt, is also Bishop of SELK, and shares the following words on the passing of Dr. Schöne: “Last Tuesday Jobst Schöne called me by phone to say good-bye and farewell. God gave me grace to visit him one last time on Tuesday afternoon with the Body and Blood of Christ. I have never experienced such a clear and peaceful time in the last hours of one’s life. His last words to me were the following: ‘I am not sure, but if there is the possibility during eternal worship, I will pray for you.’ And I answered: ‘Thank you, and I will see you soon!’”
Bishop Voigt continues: “Together with his family we are feeling both sadness and joy together—sadness because we will miss him very much, and joy because we know he has been welcomed into eternity by his Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
Dr. Schöne was born on October 20, 1931 in Naumburg (Saale). After finishing school, he pursued theological studies at universities and seminaries in Bethel, Tübingen, Oberursel, and Münster. From 1957-1958, he served as an assistant at the Ecumenical Institute in Münster.
He was ordained in 1959 and completed his vicarage in Berlin-Wilmersdorf. He served in Cologne from 1961-1962, before being called as pastor of St. Mary’s Evangelical Lutheran in Berlin-Zehlendorf and Holy Ghost Lutheran in Berlin-Spandau, a position in which he served from 1962-1975.
While serving in Berlin, he would go on to receive a doctorate in theology from the University of Münster in 1968. He later received an honorary doctorate from Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne, Indiana) in 1978.
From 1973-1985, Dr. Schöne served as superintendent of SELK’s Berlin district. On November 3, 1985, he was elected the national Bishop of SELK, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1996. During his tenure as bishop, Dr. Schöne expanded the ecumenical relations of the SELK, including through his involvement with the International Lutheran Council. He served as a frequent lecturer at ILC events from 1970 on, eventually serving two terms as Vice Chairman (1991-1995) followed by one as secretary. He also oversaw the merger of the Evangelical Lutheran (Old Lutheran) Church—a church body in former East Germany—into SELK in 1991 following German reunification.
Dr. Schöne was the author of several books, and his writing has been collected into two anthologies. In a 1994 pastoral letter, he defended SELK’s adherence to historic Christian teaching in rejecting female ordination.
He continued to teach and lecture in Germany and abroad following his retirement, and continued serving as a preacher and liturgist in local services. He celebrated his 60th ordination anniversary in 2019, where he—at 88 years old—preached and led the liturgy. He continued to preach even thereafter, giving his final sermon only the Sunday before his death.
Dr. Schöne is remembered by his wife, Ingrid, and three children.
The Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany is a member church of the International Lutheran Council, a global association of confessional Lutheran church bodies.