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Richard Lyle York (March 16, 1940 - December 26, 1994) grew up in Santa Maria, California. He married Joy Nesmith, daughter of a local Methodist minister, in 1961. He attended UC-Santa Barbara--where he argued against the mandatory ROTC program-- and graduated from the Art Institute in San Francisco in 1962. The couple practiced glossolalia (tongue-speaking) in the Sixties. He attended Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), where he became a political activist and graduated in 1967. Before moving to Berkeley to direct the Free Church, the couple lived in West Oakland. He was a community organizer in the West Oakland Public Housing Project from 1964 to 1967. Among York's influences during seminary were his CDSP professor John Pairman Brown, who became the resident theologian for the Free Church, and by CDSP graduate Malcolm Boyd, author of The Underground Church.