Remembering Dr. Charles F. Billington
BELOVED PASTOR, 83, KNOWN AS FAITHFUL, GROUNDED \
AKRON BAPTIST LEADER KEPT SCRIPTURE CLOSE
Author(s): Colette M. Jenkins, Beacon Journal religion writer
Date:August 2, 2010 Section: B
The Rev. Charles F. Billington Sr. carried his favorite Bible Scripture in his heart to keep him grounded in the Lord.
''He was faithful; faithful to Jesus, faithful to our family and faithful to the Lord's work,'' the Rev. Dallas R. Billington, said of his father. ''He was a godly, faithful man who loved people. He lived the life that he preached.''
Mr. Billington, 83, died Saturday at the Hospice of Visiting Nurse Service and Justin T. Rogers Care Center, where his family gathered daily to be with him. The pastor emeritus of Akron Baptist Temple was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about eight years ago but continued to do hospital visitations until about three years ago, when the disease accelerated.
''Even though this terrible disease took his mind, he was always in extremely good health. I'm going to miss him something terrible but it's a blessing that he's gone home to be with the Lord,'' said Charles F. Billington Jr. ''My dad was one of a kind. You will never meet a more gentle man. I couldn't ask for a better daddy. He was a special father and grandfather. His grandchildren were the apple of his eye. He never missed anything they did sporting events, choir recitals. They called him 'paw-paw.' ''
In his final days, his grandchildren read Bible Scriptures to him at his bedside. Dallas Billington said he will hold memories of those special moments close to his heart. ''Even though he did not respond, you could feel in your spirit that he was connecting with the Scripture. Watching and listening to my daughter read the Bible to him late at night is one of those final gifts I will always have with me because it shows that the life he lived has been passed on to his children and his grandchildren,'' said Dallas Billington, who left Akron Baptist Temple in 2007 after serving as pastor for a decade and now lives in Naples, Fla. ''My dad not only read the Bible, he meditated on it, like his favorite Scripture instructed. Joshua, the first chapter, verses 8 and 9:
''This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee?Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.''
Mr. Billington preached for more than 60 years; at tent revivals, on the mission field and in schoolhouses, church houses and mega churches. In his retirement, he continued to visit the sick, to officiate at scores of funeral services and to travel abroad to do missions.
As an advanced pilot, Mr. Billington often flew himself abroad to mission fields to spread the gospel. His sons recalled the times that he flew a pontoon plane into the jungles of South America and landed on a river.
During his tenure as pastor of the historic Akron Baptist Temple, Mr. Billington led the congregation in the completion of a new $8 million building project, after a $4.2 million, 4,000-seat sanctuary was destroyed by fire. He began his pastorate at the church in 1972 (when his father, the Rev. Dallas F. Billington, died) and stepped down in 1996, when his son Dallas R., took over.
''[Charles Billington] accepted an assignment to follow his father and replace a giant; a person who had visioned the church and founded the church,'' said the Rev. Ed Holland, current pastor at Akron Baptist Temple. ''In the assignment, it was almost humanly impossible to succeed his father, but he thrived and he excelled under the challenge. He had a long faithful ministry and retired with a perfectly clean slate. He never compromised his faith, his integrity or his moral standards.''
The Akron Baptist Temple was founded in 1934. Its first service was held at Akron's Rimer Elementary School with 14 people in attendance. At its peak in the late 1960s, the church had 7,000 active members. And at one time, it boasted the world's largest Sunday school.
The church is where Howard Williams began his friendship with Mr. Billington, when they were teenagers. Over the years, their relationship grew closer and stronger. As a friend and member and officer of the church, Williams traveled with Mr. Billington on mission trips.
''Charles is one of the nicest, gentlest people I've ever met. He was a very good preacher and a very good church administrator,'' said Williams, of Green. ''He worked with his father for many years and during his years as pastor, the church stayed stable. Everybody always liked him because they knew he really cared about them. Since he's been ill and away from the church, somebody stops me every Sunday to ask how he's doing. We're going to miss him, we were together so long.''
Mr. Billington, of Copley Township, was a 1945 graduate of Garfield High School. In addition to his service as a pastor, he spent two years in the U.S. Army at the end of World War II.
In addition to his two sons and their wives, Charles Jr. and Tammy and Dallas R. and Carin, Mr. Billington is survived by his wife of 65 years, Sylvia Eileen, and six grandchildren.
Arrangements are pending with Bacher Funeral Home.
Dr. Charles F. Billington Obituary
From Akron Beacon Journal
Dr. Charles Franklin Billington was born to Dr. Dallas and Nell Billington and went home to be with his Heavenly Father on Saturday, July 31st, 2010 at the age of 82.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Sylvia Eileen, that he loved more than anyone in the world; two sons, Charles (Tammy) Billington Jr., Dallas (Carin) Billington and six grandchildren, Charles (Melissa) Billington III, Alexandra Billington, Kyle Billington, Novella Billington, Stefan Billington, Joshua Billington.
He graduated Garfield High School in 1945, and soon after married the love of his life, Sylvia Eileen. After they were married, Charles joined the army, and for most of the time was stationed in Germany, and served at the end of World War II. After returning home safely, Charles moved his new bride, Eileen, to Fort Worth Texas where he attended Baptist Bible Seminary receiving his Bachelors of Divinity. Charles continued his education at Akron University where he received a Bachelor's of Arts, and soon after he received his Master's Degree in Sociology from Kent State University. Dr. Charles had an intense passion for learning and received two separate Doctorate Degrees. He graduated from California Graduate School of Theology with a Doctorate in Theology, and then in 1963 he received a Doctorate of Divinity from Bob Jones University.
Being raised in a God Fearing Home, Dr. Charles had a great passion for Jesus Christ and spreading the Good News of Salvation all over the world. Dr. Charles could fly anything from a Lear jet to a Helicopter, and he used that gift, along with various others, to take the message of Christ to many nations and tribes. Dr. Charles Billington is best known for his time as Senior Pastor at the Akron Baptist Temple, along with his passion for missionary work all around the world. During, and even after his ministry at the Akron Baptist Temple, Dr. Charles performed over 500 weddings, conducted over 3,000 funerals, and preached countless sermons. He took leadership in starting 300 churches worldwide, as well as being one of the first pilot missionaries to fly a plane into the jungles of South America. He had no fear when it came to spreading the love of Christ.
His family and close friends knew him as the energizer bunny, nothing could stop him. He was always on the go, whether it was missionary work, preaching, teaching, visiting or counseling people in need. He went to school up into his 70's, enjoyed golfing, bowling, sailing, scuba diving, flying, reading, and his favorite: attending all his grandchildren's basketball games and school functions. He loved life, and lived every moment to its absolute fullest.
His life verse was Joshua 1:8-9. He is now home with his Heavenly Father, parents, family, friends, and thousands of people he lead to Jesus Christ.
Calling hours will be held at the Akron Baptist Temple, 2324 Manchester Rd., Akron, 44314 on Wednesday August 4, 2010 from 4 to 8 p.m. Funeral will follow at the Akron Baptist Temple on Thursday at 1 p.m., with services held by his son, Rev. Dallas R. Billington. Interment Rose Hill Burial Park. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Dr. Charles F. Billington to the Akron Baptist Temple Missions Fund.
Published in Akron Beacon Journal on Aug. 2, 2010