D. James Kennedy, influential Christian broadcaster, retires

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Rev. D. James Kennedy, a pioneering megachurch pastor who became one of the nation’s most prominent Christian broadcasters, resigned from the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church after 48 years, his daughter announced Sunday.

The 76-year-old senior pastor preached his last sermon there on Dec. 24. He suffered a cardiac arrest four days later, and has been unable to return to the pulpit.

Kennedy’s daughter, Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy, made the announcement during the Sunday service.

“The long-range planning committee and denominational session have been developing next steps and working to ensure the church continues to grow and thrive,” she said.

Kennedy took the small church of 45 members in 1959 to a megachurch of nearly 10,000 members today.

In 1974, he started Coral Ridge Ministries, his radio and TV outreach arm, which now claims a weekly audience of 3.5 million people for all of its broadcasts. Kennedy’s TV show “The Coral Ridge Hour,” airs on more than 400 stations and four cable networks, and is broadcast to more than 150 countries on the Armed Forces Network, his ministry says.

Last year, the National Religious Broadcasters association inducted him into their hall of fame.

“Dr. Kennedy is a man among men who will continue to cast a long shadow in the lives of those who know and love him,” said Frank Wright, president and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters.

Dr. James C. Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, called Kennedy one of the church’s “truly significant figures.”

“For decades now, you have stood strong in defense of faith, family, and most importantly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said in a statement to Kennedy. “Believers around the world are indebted to you for your vision and leadership.”

The congregation will have the final voice in determining Kennedy’s successor, a process that will likely take between one and two years.

Rev. Ronald L. Siegenthaler, executive minister of the church, will implement the policies of a governing body of elders and supervise the day-to-day events.

A tribute worship service for Kennedy is set Sept. 23.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday August 27, 2007.
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