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Richard Billings

August 20, 1924 February 18, 2019
Richard Billings
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Obituary for Richard Billings

Richard Billings served as minister of Unity of Oak Park for fifty years. He was born on a farm near Wyandot, Ohio, in 1924; completed grade school in a one room school house and high school in the town of Bucyrus; and was drafted out of The Ohio State University in Columbus. During this three years in the military service in the Pacific, he was torpedoed and experienced other horrors of war. Discharged in January of 1946, he finished his degree in fine arts and education while working as a waiter. Richard then went to work in the fashion industry and became a high-fashion designer with a shop on Oak Street, a half block from the Drake Hotel. He later sold the shop and traveled to Unity Village, Missouri, to train at the Unity School of Christianity, where he became an Ordained Unity Ministry. He ministered in Santa Monica, Detroit, and Lansing, before ending up in Oak Park in the summer of 1967. When he began, thirty-five people, all older than himself, had purchased an impractical fixer-upper mansion intended to be the church’s building at a controversial time in the history of Oak Park. By 1972, the building was paid for and improved upon, and regularly drew an attendance of between 400 and 500 hundred congregants, with a mailing list of 1800. Unity of Oak Park was a healing ministry using metaphysical Bible and Bible courses, and attracting mostly those people who wanted to improve themselves and their understanding of life. For example, Richard took congregants on regular trips to at least seventy countries with the intent of expanding consciousness in many who would never have traveled on their own. He is also responsible for the existence of four other Unity Centers in the area and completed at least fifty liaison interventions all over the US, putting troubled Centers back on course. Richard taught at Unity School and guest spoke for many Centers—including at his good friend Johnnie Colman’s Center on the Southside and three times in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for a crowd of over two thousand, once with Maya Angelou. Due to health problems the last several years of his life, Richard scaled back his ministry to include counseling on Fridays and Saturdays. Rarely seen, he continued to raise nearly $60,000 to help the Center using truth principles. On September 1, 2017, those in power, including the Board of Directors, decided to take the Center in a different direction and ordered him out. In his biography, My Soul Remembers, he writes, “For some of us, the search goes on half- heartedly; for others, it is a serious business. We all have our moments.” We bless him on his continuing journey. All services are private.

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