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Coral Ridge Leader, Rev. D. James Kennedy, Retires

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Anne Kennedy on the Health of Dr. D. James Kennedy

By Craig von Buseck Contributing Writer

CBN.comThe news of Dr. D. James Kennedy's retirement from Coral Ridge Ministries was recently announced by his daughter, Jennifer, at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. At the same time, Dr. Kennedy's wife, Anne, released information on the pioneering Christian broadcasters health through the Coral Ridge Ministries newsletter.

On December 28, 2006, the 76-year-old Kennedy suffered a heart attack. While in cardiac arrest, he was deprived of oxygen for eight minutes, resulting in a brain injury and loss of short-term memory.

Dr. Kennedy remained in the hospital from December until May of this year. Through aggressive rehabilitation, he has re-learned the day-to-day tasks that most of us take for granted.

Jennifer Kennedy said that while he's not the same person, he is back home and happy, comfortable, and gracious. She said his caretakers love serving him, and Anne is at his side, just where she wants to be.

In an interview with Carol Mustian, Vice President of Ministry Relations at Coral Ridge Ministries, Anne Kennedy says that her husband shows signs of improvement after physical therapy. "Some days are better than others, and we are always looking for the 'good' days."

Mustian asked Mrs. Kennedy to describe what happened the day that Dr. Kennedy suffered the heart attack.

"Jim got up from the dinner table and said he wanted to heat up his soup a little more in the microwave. Suddenly, he said, "oh, oh," and started crumbling to the floor. I caught him and eased him down and called 911. The operator told me I should give him CPR and started giving me instructions."

"I had to lay down the phone to use both hands so I could not hear her voice. I didn't even know how to turn on the speaker, but it came on very clearly so I could hear everything. The paramedics came about eight minutes later and, after stabilizing him for a while, they transported him to the hospital."

"What is Dr. Kennedy like now?" Mustian questioned. "He has been home since May. Does he know you, Anne?"

"He's very sweet and loving and SO polite, and he does know me. I ask him sometimes what he is thinking about to see what's going on inside, but he has a hard time responding. He's quick to tell Jennifer and me that he loves us!"

Mustian asked if he prays and reads the Bible.

"He prays aloud a lot and does read the Scriptures, but I'm not sure how much he can comprehend. I cling to God's promises. I know He is sovereign. He has His reasons for what has happened. Soon enough it will be clear for us all."

"Jim and I placed our trust in Christ about the same time many years ago. We have worked together as partners all our married lives, and we are in this situation together, too. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, doing anything else but being his life partner."

Mrs. Kennedy went on to express her gratitude that Coral Ridge Ministries is moving forward to endow and preserve her husband's work. "I believe God has placed Brian (Brian Fisher, Executive Vice President) in CRM 'for such a time as this.' He is ideally suited to take CRM to a whole new level as the legacy ministry of my husband. We pray this will happen according to God's will."

The Future of Coral Ridge Ministries

Fischer commented on the news of Rev. Kennedy's announcement. "Dr. Kennedy's retirement from the church is a very significant event in the life of this local congregation. Our prayers are with him, his family, and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church as it seeks a Senior Minister to fill the pastoral leadership role held with such distinction and impact by Dr. Kennedy."

"At the same time, the retirement of Dr. Kennedy from the church does not directly affect Coral Ridge Ministries," said Fisher. "Across the street here at CRM, we are amazed at how, by God's grace, He is opening new doors for the growth of this ministry."

"Prior to his absence, Dr. Kennedy and our Board of Directors were intimately involved in the building and approval of an aggressive five year plan for this ministry. Dr. Kennedy's vision for CRM has always been to reach as many people as possible for the Gospel through media, and our long range plan embodies that vision."

"Our beloved pastor and teacher has laid an incredible foundation for us to carry on his work of taking the Gospel to all nations and peoples."

According to Fisher, Coral Ridge Ministries has initiated a five-year strategic plan to increase its outreach from 3 million to 30 million people by 2012 via television, radio, print, and the Internet using the teachings and inspirations of Dr. Kennedy. That plan includes a media library containing nearly all of Dr. Kennedy's print, audio, and video messages over the last four decades.

The Legacy of Evangelism Explosion

As she announced Dr. Kennedy's retirement, Jennifer Kennedy mentioned some of his many accomplishments:

• In 1959 he started Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church at a nearby school;
• In 1962 the church moved to another location;
• In 1962 he started Evangelism Explosion, and in 1967 the first clinic was held;
• In 1973 he moved the church into its present location;
• In 1978 his TV ministry began;
• He also spearheaded Coral Ridge Ministries, Westminster Academy, Knox Seminary, and the Center for Reclaiming America.

"He walked the walk, practiced what he preached, and his favorite saying was 'Only one life, soon will pass. Only what's done for Christ will last,'” said Jennifer.

“For 48 years, he loved his work and he loved the people,” Jennifer exclaimed. “Now it’s our turn to take the ball and run with it. We need to stand in the gap.”

Evangelism Explosion Vice President, Rev. John Sorensen, spoke of the impact Rev. Kennedy had on the Church through training thousands in evangelism. "Dr. Kennedy was an incredibly gifted senior clinic teacher and a model witness for Christ. We will certainly miss that leadership within EE."  

"Because Dr. Kennedy was passionate about indigenous leadership, EE continues around the world," Sorensen explained. "The best thing we can do is to obey Christ, continue spreading the Gospel, and train others to do the same." 

"Dr. Kennedy's example of living out personal witness in his daily life is an encouragement to us all to continue to share the Gospel and train others all over the world."

"Please continue to pray for Dr. and Mrs. Kennedy and their daughter, Jennifer, during these difficult days."

Evangelism Explosion and Coral Ridge Ministries has developed a Web site that highlights the life of Dr. D. James Kennedy. You can find it at:

Related ChurchWatch Blog: Coral Ridge Leader, Rev. D. James Kennedy, Retires

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Craig von BuseckCraig von Buseck is Ministries Director for Send him your e-mail comments.

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