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Richard S. Kirby

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Richard Stephen Kirby (July 16, 1949—September 24, 2009) was a theologian and chaplain with interests in astronomy, cosmology, and futurology. His thought was considered to be in a direct line of descent from the futurist author H.G. Wells, through the philosopher Olaf Stapledon and the astronomer and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke.[1]


Kirby attended the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church (United States) as an ordinand from 1982 to 1985 and graduated with an M.Div. He worked in various church ministries on both sides of the Atlantic for the next 10 years. His Ph.D. thesis at King's College London in 1992 was on The Theological Definition of Cosmic Disorder in the writings of Thomas Forsyth Torrance. From 1992 to 1994 Kirby served as the Director of Administration for Mensa International.


In 1988, Kirby helped re-found the World Network of Religious Futurists as a community of practice within the World Future Society. He became its chairman in 1993 and served in this capacity for 12 years before becoming the organization’s Chaplain in 2005. After finishing his Ph.D., he moved to Seattle in 1995, where for 10 years he worked developing a theological think tank, which developed into the Stuart C. Dodd Institute for Social Innovation. He became an executive director in 1997. In 2001, he formed a chaplaincy program at World Future Society annual conferences, along with Rabbi Dr. Moshe Dror, to provide collegiality and coaching for spiritually inclined attendees. In 2005, Kirby became the first President and Chaplain of Kepler Academy, an astronomical and theological college. In 2009 this developed into the Kepler Space Institute. He served as an executive director on the board of these institutions until his death in 2009.


He wrote several books and publications. His most important publications are:

  • The Mission of Mysticism, London: SPCK, 1979
  • The Person in Psychology, 1975 and Individual Differences, 1976 with psychologist John Radford.
  • Christians and the World of Computers with Parker Rossman, Philadelphia, PA: Trinity Press, 1990
  • Temples of Tomorrow: World religions and the future with Earl C. Brewer, London: Gray Seal, 1993.
  • The Leadership of Civilization Building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century with Richard J. Spady, and Cecil H. Bell Jr., Seattle, WA: Forum Foundation, 2002
  • Nurturing Civilization Builders: Birthing The Best Schools In The World with Barbara Gilles, Seattle, WA: Ideal Profit, 2004.


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