The Rev. Dr. Lothar Elsner
Germany Central Conference
Dr. Lothar Elsner was was born in March 1959 in Braunschweig where he grew up. After passing his university entrance examinations and completing his community service in the UMC Children's and Youth Centre in Braunschweig, he studied Theology at Ruprecht Karls University Heidelberg from 1977 to 1981. After a twelve-month church internship in Kassel, he continued his studies of theology from 1982 to 1984, taking his first theology degree with the Protestant Church in Hessen and Nassau.
Lothar Elsner gained his first experience as a pastor in local church ministry for the UMC from 1984 to 1988 at the UM Erlöserkirche in Reutlingen which is part of the South Germany Annual Conference. He was also ordained during this period (1986). Following his time in Reutlingen, he studied for a doctorate at the Theological Faculty of Heidelberg University with a thesis on »Economic injustice as a query for market theory and Methodist economic ethics.« Under the supervision of the former Professors Dr. Kristian Hungar and Dr. Wolfang Huber, he was awarded a doctorate in theology in 1992. While doing his doctorate, Elsner was the youth organisation secretary for the UMC South Germany Annual Conference with responsibility for children and youth retreats, training courses and major children's events such as the Children's Conference. After obtaining his doctorate, from 1992 on he ran the Nellingen circuit on the southern edge of Stuttgart for a period of six years. He was elected Director of the UMC Education Ministries based in Stuttgart, which he ran for 15 years until 2013. During this period he was the co-founder of the Forum for Social and Welfare Ethics. As a trained mediator, he also established the UMC Church Counselling. Besides delivering seminars and lectures on theological topics, he also chaired the Church State Consortium for Adult Education Baden-Württemberg (KiLAG), and was also the director and chief organiser of three UMC congresses. From 2013 until being elected Bishop, Dr. Elsner was the Theological Chair of the associations and foundations in the Bethanien-Bethesda Federation, particularly the Bethanien deaconesses foundation based in Frankfurt am Main.
Besides concentrating on local church ministry with a focus on children's and youth work, children's bible weeks and courses on basic issues of faith, right from the very beginning Lothar Elsner also devoted his attention to issues of creation ethics and justice, encouraging local churches to see their work with refugees and migrants as an expression of a Christian approach to life and the Methodist way of practising faith. As Director of the UMC Education Mission and also Theological Chair of the Bethanien deaconesses foundation, he placed great emphasis on networking the various specific tasks involved in adult education and institutional welfare work with the activities of the local church on the spot. Besides his work in local church ministry and special ministry, Lothar Elsner was also involved in assignments and auxiliary activities in many areas of the UMC and also going over and beyond the UMC:
Since 2013 - Member of the Ethics Working Party of the CPCE
Since 2008 - Chair of the Economics Workshop e.V., Heidelberg
2004-12 - Part of the ecumenical editorial group »Yearbook of Justice«
2002-2004 - Chair of the German-speaking association of Oikocredit in Europe
2001 - Teacher of ethics at Reutlingen Theological Seminary during the winter semester 2001/2002
1997-2001 - Member of the 2000 Jubilee Year campaign council
1997-1999 - Member of the EKD-VEF editorial group »Protestantism and Culture«
1995-2001 - Director and Chair of the Oikocredit support association Baden-Württemberg
1992, 1994, 2002 - Contribution and leadership of the pastor training courses on Ethics and Letter to the Romans and the Doctrine of Justification
1987-92 - Partnership programme for the Methodist Churches in Brazil and Germany, head of the reverse programme
Lothar Elsner is married; he and his wife have two grown-up children.
Translation: Jaqueline Rohmann