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ChurchWatch: Craig von Buseck

Join Craig von Buseck weekdays as he shares his perspective on the major trends and news affecting the Body of Christ today.


january 2, 2007

Dr. D. James Kennedy Hospitalized After Suffering A Massive Heart Attack

Worshippers at Fort Lauderdale's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church offered prayers Sunday for the full recovery of the Rev. D. James Kennedy, the church's charismatic leader after he suffered a massive heart attack.

Kennedy, 76, a leading figure in the Christian conservative movement, was rushed to the hospital Thursday night after suffering the attack. His condition, initially seen as grave, has been showing improvement, church leaders told the congregation on Sunday.

"The doctors are amazed," said Mary Anne Bunker, Kennedy's longtime assistant, after the 11:15 a.m. service. "It's the power of prayer."

Bunker told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that concerned followers from as far as Africa have called the church for updates on his condition. With 10,000 church members and millions of people in nearly 200 nations tuning in to his TV and radio broadcasts, Kennedy has a large group praying for his recovery. "It's just awesome," Bunker said. "He has reached all over the world."

The Sun-Sentinel reports that Bunker, 72, started working for Kennedy in 1964, back when the church had a roster of about 600 members. Like most Coral Ridge members, she credits Kennedy with inspiring her to become a born-again Christian.

"He is very persuasive, you know," she said.

“We're quite encouraged,” Kennedy spokesman John Aman told the Sun-Sentinel. Aman indicated Kennedy had been taken off a ventilator, talked to people and responded to neurologists' commands to move his limbs.

Kennedy entered the ministry in 1959. He began preaching to a 45-member congregation in the cafeteria of an elementary school in Pompano Beach and was paid $4,800 a year. By the mid-1970s, Coral Ridge had become one of America's first mega-churches with more than 3,000 members.

According to WorldNetDaily, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family encouraged prayer for his long-time friend. "It has been my honor and pleasure to know him not only as a broadcasting colleague and a gifted pastor, but also as a dear friend for the past 30 years. He has been one of the nation's most powerful defenders of righteousness, never wavering from the eternal truths of Scripture. His voice is still vitally needed in this country and around the world.

We are asking the Lord to restore the health of this good man, and to be with Anne and the rest of the Kennedy family during this challenging time."

According to Bunker, Kennedy had a "severe" cardiac arrest Thursday night. "He was home at the time," she said, noting that "the last time he preached was on Christmas Eve. He was home in the kitchen. He fell, and his wife caught him, and gave him CPR until the ambulance arrived."

Kennedy was taken to Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale. "The ambulance got [to Kennedy's home] in four to five minutes," said Bunker, "and the hospital was less than five blocks away. And the doctors were ready for him before the ambulance even arrived."

Fortunately, a CAT scan turned out normal, not disclosing any brain damage or other complications resulting from the heart attack.

In 1978, Kennedy launched his weekly one-hour television show, "The Coral Ridge Hour," which is available to 81 percent of the nation's television households and is broadcast nationally every Sunday morning on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. The popular television ministry program is also syndicated on various other networks.

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