Clarence Haas Snelling, Jr., served as Professor of Teaching Ministries at the Iliff School of Theology from 1964 until his retirement in 1993. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on July 12, 1926, he graduated from Tulane University with a B.A. in mathematics and English literature. While serving as student intern at two churches, Snelling attended Perkins School of Theology, where he received a B.D. in Pastoral Ministry in 1949. He was ordained as Deacon in the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1947, and in 1949 was ordained an Elder and received into full connection in that conference.
From 1949-54, he served as pastor in three Louisiana churches. He married Margaret Lenora Johnson in 1953, and began a five-year appointment as Chaplain and Campus Minister for the Tulane University Wesley Foundation in the same year.
Margaret Johnson Snelling held a Master of Social Workdegree. . The Snellings had three children: David Frith (1956), Benjamin Key (1958), and Claire Ruth Snelling Nord (1960). Margaret Snelling died on December 13, 1992.
Dr. Snelling continued his education from 1954-57 at Tulane’s School of Social Work, where he focused on Group Work and Psychotherapy. He then attended Drew University from 1958-64 and attended the 1959 summer session at Union Seminary in New York. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Theology from Drew in 1966. During his doctoral work, he served in a variety of capacities in the local community and at Drew University.
In 1964, he accepted a position as Associate Professor of Religious Education at Iliff School of Theology. A popular professor, preacher, and speaker, Dr. Snelling was involved with multiple volunteer organizations and social agencies. He was awarded a fellowship in 1970 to do post-doctoral study with Piaget and Inhelder at the University of Geneva. He collaborated with H. Edward Everding and Mary Wilcox on an eight-year research project that proposed a theory of developmental interpretation and validated it in a longitudinal study utilizing a random sample of entering and exiting Iliff students from three generations. The project investigated the relationship between students’ cognitive structural development and their interpretive styles. Later he compared these results with those from cross-cultural studies in Mexico, China, Korea, and Zimbabwe, using comparable sample student groups in seminaries in those countries further to validate the theory. In 1974, he was promoted to professor Teaching Ministries, a position he held for 17 years.
Snelling retired from Iliff School of Theology in May, 1993. At the time of his retirement, he planned to finish a monograph about his research, travel to Kenya in January, 1994, to teach at the Ministerial Training Institute in Mehru, which is affiliated with the Methodist Church of Kenya. He also plans to serve as volunteer “sabbatical minister” for Louisiana Conference ministers desiring a study leave.