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Chaplain to the Stars, Memorial to Dr. Kirby
by Alana Kirby, Oct 9, 2009
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Dr. Richard S. Kirby
July 16, 1949 - September 24, 2009

Richard Stephen Kirby was born to Jean and Ted Kirby on July 16, 1949 in London, United Kingdom and grew up in Wimbledon with his sister Frances. Even at an early age, Richard became an enthusiastic student of astronomy.

As a young man, Richard skirted briefly with business, earning a certificate in business studies at Kingston Polytechnic in London. He went on to receive his Bachelor's degree in experimental psychology from North East London Polytechnic (now University of East London). He undertook research from 1973 to 1976 in the Psycholinguistic Research Unit at University College, London, and lectured in psychology at North East London Polytechnic.

Richard met his first wife Ruth on a trip to the United States. They were married in 1977 and lived in London. Together, they moved to Abington, PA in 1978, where his daughter Alana was born in 1979. During that time, Richard was the Director of Community and Public Relations of the Institute for the Exploration of Family Life. In 1982, the family moved to New York, NY, where he trained for the priesthood at The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church. In 1985, he graduated with an M.Div. and was ordained.

Richard returned to Britain in 1986, where he pursued a Ph.D. in Christian doctrine and history at King's College, London. Dr. Kirby graduated in 1992, completing his dissertation, The Theological Definition of Cosmic Disorder in the writings of Thomas Forsyth Torrance.

During his studies, he formed the Order of the Academy of Christ, an Anglican counterpart to the Jesuits. Its objective was to find innovative ways of promoting the Christian Mission. He was authorized to start an experimental congregation by the United Reformed Church (an amalgamation of Presbyterians and Congregationalists in Britain), and developed and led a video unit for the Thames North Province (now Synod) of the URC.

On a trip to the United States in 1988, Dr. Kirby was instrumental in forming the World Network of Religious Futurists, an organization that sought to encourage members and adherents of all religious traditions to work towards relieving poverty and suffering. He remained involved with the World Network of Religious Futurists throughout his life, serving as chairman from 1993 to 2005, and subsequently as Chaplain until his death.

From 1992 to 1994, he was International Director of Administration of International Mensa. He was a member of the British Society of Authors for many years.

Richard emigrated to the United States in 1994 and naturalized as an American citizen at the first opportunity. He met his second wife Deborah at the Light of Christ Community Church in Talequah, OK and married her in 1996. He collaborated with Dick Spady and Cecil H. Bell, and was invited to become a Stuart C. Dodd Scholar in Social Innovation. In 1997 he became Executive Director of the Stuart C. Dodd Institute for Social Innovation. He taught business ethics at the University of Washington, and lectured at Seattle Pacific University, the University of Puget Sound, and Bastyr University.

In 2001 he formed a chaplaincy program for the World Future Society conferences and remained senior chaplain for many years. He also founded the All Saints New Church in 2003, where he posted weekly sermons to an online congregation. He continued to serve as a chaplain to the community, especially for those who were wounded or ill.

In 2005 he became the first President and Chaplain of Kepler Academy, an astronomical and theological college. He was the Visiting Professor of International Finance for the University of Russia's Academy of Education. In 2008, he was chosen as Executive Director of the URAE, USA. In 2009 he began to develop the Kepler Space University, which is continuing to form.

Richard met Abeba "Nunu" Haile in 2002 in Edmonds and married her on August 23rd, 2003. He often referred to Nunu as his BDIEM (Best Decision I Ever Made) and they prayed and sang together regularly. They particularly enjoyed watching movies together. At the time of Richard's death, he and Nunu resided in Edmonds with their two beloved dogs, Dexter and Willie.

Throughout his life, Richard maintained a prolific output of articles, books, sermons, prayers, poetry, and fiction. He could be counted on to speak on almost any topic at a moment's notice. He produced teaching videos several times a week and distributed them online. He produced weekly web sermons on a variety of topics. Richard authored several books throughout his life, including:

-The Person in Psychology (1975), and Individual Differences (1979), with John Radford;
-The Mission of Mysticism (1976);
-Christians in the World of Computers (1990), with Parker Rossman;
-Temples of Tomorrow (1993), with Earl Brewer;
-The Leadership of Civilization Building (2002), with Richard J. Spady and in collaboration with Cecil H. Bell Jr.
-Nurturing Civilization Building (2004), with Barbara Ray Gilles.

His last book, The People's Astronomy was collaboratively written in three days.

Richard's interests covered an extraordinary range including mathematics, astronomy, theology, philosophy, psychology, science fiction, ethics, sociology, finance, and the theory of government. He had a deep enjoyment of music, and played hymns on his piano or organ every day. He particularly appreciated the spiritual aspects of the music of Gustav Mahler and Ludwig von Beethoven, and was an avid student of the works of Jean Sibelius. His religious knowledge extended beyond Christianity and he believed that people of all faiths could work together to create an ideally profitable future.

One of his primary concerns was to improve the well-being of the poor. Dr. Kirby made a real difference in the lives of many children though contributions to medical clinics and math schools in Pakistan. He supported a family in the Philippines, both financially and by helping them seek higher education.

Richard was a devoted and loving son, husband, brother and father. He was a true friend and spiritual counselor. He will be sorely missed. He is survived by his beloved wife Abeba "Nunu," daughter Alana, his beloved dogs Dexter and Willie, his mother Jean, sister Frances and her husband John, his in-laws Yilma Haile and Koki A. Meshesha, and his sisters-and brothers-in-law.

The family would like to thank all of Dr. Kirby's friends and colleagues for their love and support. 
-- A message from Richard's wife, Nunu
He was such a wonderful and remarkable husband. He was so positive all the time. He lives always in my heart and I will miss him so much. Dexxie and Willie miss him too. I love him forever. I will always remember our great love.

-- A message from Richard's mother, Jean
Our beloved Richard was so compassionate towards those who were in need of love, or help of any kind, that he sacrificed himself toward relieving their anxieties, and fears... We hope that one, and all of you, benefit from the love that Richard spread among this congregation, and can live by it. Rest in peace, Richard, you worked hard to bring the glory of God to so many people, that you deserve it yourself.

O strong soul, by what shore
Tarriest thou now? For that force,
Surely, has not been left vain!
Somewhere, surely afar,
In the sounding labour-house vast
Of being, is practised that strength,
Zealous, beneficent, firm!

Yes, in some far-shining sphere,
Conscious or not of the past,
Still thou performest the word
Of the Spirit in whom thou dost live-
Prompt, unwearied, as here!
Still thou upraisest with zeal
The humble good from the ground,
Sternly repressest the bad!
Still, like a trumpet, dost rouse
Those who with half-open eyes
Tread the border-land dim
'Twixt vice and virtue; reviv'st,
Succourest!--this was thy work,
This was thy life upon earth.

from 'Rugby Chapel,' Matthew Arnold

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