Church & Ministry
Dr. D. James Kennedy,
1930 - 2007
By Craig von Buseck
CBN.com Contributing Writer
CBN.com The Rev. D. James Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Church and host of one of the nation's most prominent Christian television programs, has died. Dr. Kennedy passed away at 2:15 a.m., "peacefully, in his sleep, at home," according to the Rev. Ronald Siegenthaler, executive minister at the 10,000-member church. By his side was Anne, his wife of five decades, and his daughter, Jennifer.
He was 76 years old.
“There are all kinds of wonderful things I could say about my dad,” said daughter Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy. “But one that stands out is his fine example. He ‘walked the walk’ and ‘practiced what he preached.’ His work for Christ is lasting – it will go on and on and make a difference for eternity.”
Dr. Kennedy, who is survived by Anne, his wife of 51 years, and his daughter Jennifer, preached his last sermon from the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve Sunday 2006.
Kennedy, who also founded a broadcast ministry, a seminary and an annual series of conservative conferences, suffered multiple complications ever since December 28, 2006, when he suffered arrhythmia and cardiac arrest. He never fully recovered, despite a rigorous regimen of physical therapy in Florida and Michigan.
His retirement was announced August 26 by his daughter, Jennifer, who spoke at a joint gathering of all three Sunday services. The church also announced plans for a tribute to Kennedy's life and career, set for 11 a.m. on September 23.
“I would like to thank all of you for your prayers, cards, kindnesses and encouragement over the past nine months,” Mrs. Cassidy said during the retirement announcement. “Our family knows that we have come through this difficult time because of God’s grace and your faithful prayers, and it has brought joy to us to see God’s faithfulness in all of this.”
He was born Dennis James Kennedy, on November 3, 1930, in Augusta, Georgia. Dr. Kennedy was the founder and former head pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In 1974 he also the founded Coral Ridge Ministries, a non-profit outreach with an audience of 3.5 million.
His weekly television program, The Coral Ridge Hour, is carried on various networks and syndicated on numerous other stations. His daily radio program, Truths That Transform, is heard across radio stations in the United States and through podcasts on the program's Web site.
Dr. Kennedy’s belief that God will continue to do “great and mighty things” through the obedient efforts of His people never faltered. His confidence in the future also extended to American culture. “America is in the throes of a cultural shift with enormous implications for the future,” Dr. Kennedy said in 2004, noting the growth in the number of evangelical Christians in America. “If that trend continues, and I believe it will, Evangelical Christians will be in the majority sometime in the next decade,” he added.
“We will miss Dr. Kennedy enormously,” said Frank Wright, president of the National Religious Broadcasters. “His moral leadership and his legacy of impacting the globe for Jesus Christ is unmatched by few in the history of the Church. It is our desire to honor him by sustaining and multiplying his impact through Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and all the ministries founded by Dr. Kennedy in the years to come.”
"I'm saddened by the passing of one of our nation's great leaders," said Janet Folger, President of Faith2Action, who served with Dr. Kennedy for five years as the National Director of the Center for Reclaiming America from 1997-2002.
"He was an inspiration, a mentor, and an example of unwavering integrity," said Folger. "Beyond spreading the Gospel through Evangelism Explosion around the globe, he shared the message of Christ's love and redemption to everyone he met."
"I remember one time he shared the Gospel over lunch using his silverware," Folger recalled. "Pointing to a knife on a napkin representing the letter 'I,' he proclaimed, 'that's every religion in the world except Christianity -- what must I do? How can I earn my way to Heaven? I need, I should, I must…' He then placed a fork over the knife to form a cross and said, 'Christianity is the only religion in the world about what God did to reach man and make a way for us to be with Him.'"
On the evening of December 28, 2006, Kennedy experienced prolonged ventricular tachycardia at his Ft. Lauderdale home, which deprived his brain of adequate oxygen for eight minutes, resulting in loss of short-term memory. Despite several months of rehabilitation and convalescence, he was unable to resume preaching and his retirement was announced on Sunday, August 26, 2007, at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church by his daughter, Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
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: www.djameskennedy.org.
von Buseck is Ministries Director for CBN.com.
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