September 28, 1919 – December 10, 2011
Clarence was a senior in high school when he fully committed himself to Christ. A few months later, he was called to preach and became licensed as a local preacher. He graduated from Adams State College, Alamosa, Colorado, August 1943, and from Asbury Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky, May 1946. Clarence married Elizabeth Good in June 1947.
In 1948, after serving a four-point Methodist circuit, the Owsleys entered missionary service under OMS (at that time the “Oriental Missionary Society”) in September 1948. When the doors to Colombia closed, they served in Haiti for 16 months before beginning ministry in Brazil. In 1958, they applied to serve under Free Methodist World Missions, and upon acceptance Clarence wrote, “We are rejoicing greatly and are anticipating joining heart and hand in the labors awaiting us there with fellow-missionaries.”
The Owsleys were engaged in evangelism and education ministries throughout Brazil. Clarence participated in preaching – sometimes as many as four times on Sunday, pastoral visitation, church and home services and extension evangelism. He helped start a number of churches. His pastoral ministry included teaching personal evangelism to local church workers to better equip them for evangelistic outreach. He also conducted Christian education seminars. At one point, the Owsleys were maintaining four children’s Bible clubs.
While the Owsleys returned to the U.S. in the early 1980s to care for Elizabeth’s mother, they pastored the Arcola, Illinois, FMC. They returned to Brazil for a short-term assignment, teaching and ministering in the seminary. Clarence worked with pastors and local churches in evangelism. In addition, he was supervisor and counselor for the men’s dorm and found time to assist with maintenance work. Their last formal appointment was at Hillsdale FMC in Michigan where Clarence served as minister of visitation. They retired in 1991, but retirement didn’t mean they stopped serving. Clarence and Elizabeth put their Portuguese language skills to work translating numerous letters between Brazilian children sponsored through International Child Care Ministries and their sponsors. They also made several short-term trips to Brazil.
Clarence’s Colleague Writes
Clancy J. Thompson writes, Clarence Owsley was my missionary colleague in Brazil. He sought God quietly and lived out God’s truth visibly. His relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ was evident in all areas of his life – marriage, family, pastoral ministry and times of relaxation. He shunned any hint of intrigue. He was simply a humble follower of Jesus – a servant of God who demonstrated leadership through servanthood. Clarence, I salute you, a man of God who visibly demonstrated the character of the Lord Jesus in all avenues of life.
You are now with Jesus, and even now I can hear your exclamation, Gloria a Deus! And with you, I cry out, Glory to God!