Lee Snook, professor emeritus of systematic theology at Luther Seminary, died on Thursday, December 23, 2021.
“Professor Snook had a long and storied career forming Christian leaders and teaching the faith in compelling and accessible ways,” said Robin Steinke, president of Luther Seminary. “His work with students around the world, particularly in the global church, left a lasting impact on all who knew him.”
Before joining the Luther Seminary faculty in 1970, Snook served as a chaplain at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and as senior pastor of the university congregation there. He is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Gettysburg College (1952) and graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1956. He gained his masters and Ph.D. degrees from Union Theological Seminary in New York (1967 and 1970). He was ordained by the United Lutheran Church in America in November 1955 and, before moving to Cornell University, he served St. Luke Lutheran Church in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania, and Good Shepherd in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1984-85 he was a senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago. He retired from Luther Seminary’s faculty in 1999 and then served as adjunct professor for several terms.
The seminary granted Snook a three-year leave of absence, 1986-89, to become visiting professor of theology at the University of Zimbabwe, a new post funded by the Lutheran World Federation. Beginning in 1992, again with the support of the seminary, Snook and his wife, Lois, established a student program in Harare, Zimbabwe, that took them back to Africa each year for three to four months until his retirement.
Over their years in Africa, Lee and Lois Snook became collectors of African art, particularly the highly acclaimed Zimbabwe (or Shona) stone sculpture. In Spring 1990, they mounted in the atrium of Olson Campus Center a large exhibit, “Spirit in Stone.” They contributed pieces for the seminary’s permanent art collection and were instrumental in the commissioning of the bronze statue “Living Hope” by Jeff Barber ’82, which was installed on the seminary’s campus in 2004.
Snook was the author of numerous articles, essays, and reviews for Word and World, dialog, Christian Century, Theology Today, and other journals. He also served on church boards and commissions. His books include “The Church Emerging” (edited by John Reumann, 1977), “O God, Pay Attention: A Journal for Lent” (1970), “Renewal in the Pulpit” (edited by Edward Steimle, 1966), “The Anonymous Christ: Jesus as Savior in Modern Theology” (1986), and “What in the World Is God Doing? Re-imagining Spirit and Power” (1999).
A memorial eucharist for Snook will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 21, 2022, in Luther Seminary’s Chapel of the Incarnation, located in Olson Campus Center, 1490 Fulham St., St. Paul, MN 55108. A reception will follow the service.