Now, I know that someday I am going to come to what some
people will say is the end of this life. They will probably put me A CELEBRATION and REMEMBRANCE of the
in a box and roll me right down here in front of the church, and
LIFE of D. JAMES KENNEDY, PH.D.
some people will gather around, and a few people will cry. But
I have told them not to do that because I don’t want them to
cry. I want them to begin the service with the Doxology and end
with the Hallelujah Chorus, because I am not going to be there,
and I am not going to be dead. I will be more alive than I have
ever been in my life, and I will be looking down upon you poor
people who are still in the land of dying and have not yet
A LAMPLIGHTER FOR CHRIST
joined me in the land of the living. I will be alive forevermore, in
greater health and vitality and joy than ever, ever, I or anyone
has known before.
D. JAMES KENNEDY, PH.D.
©2007 Coral Ridge Ministries
I was sitting in the gloamin’, an’ a man passed the
window. He was the LAMPLIGHTER. He pushed his
pole into the lamp and lighted it. Then he went to
another and another. Now I couldn’t see him, but
I knew where he was by the lights as they broke I THINK THAT IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
out down the street, until he had left a beautiful I HAVE EVER HEARD. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE. WE ARE ALL “LAMPLIGHTERS.”
avenue of lights.
D. JAMES KENNEDY, PH.D.
Ye’re all LAMPLIGHTERS. They’ll know where ye’ve
been by the lights ye have lit.
SIR HARRY LAUDER
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of
the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness
as the stars for ever and ever. DANIEL 12:3
November 3, 1930
Dennis James Kennedy is born
to George and Ermine Kennedy
in Augusta, Georgia.
The Kennedy family moves to
Chicago, settling in an apartment
DR. D. JAMES KENNEDY 1930-2007 just 50 yards from Lake Michigan.
The family relocates once
more to Tampa, Florida.
He was, first and foremost, a “lamplighter.” The passion of Dr. D. James Kennedy, “Jim” to so many, was to Arthur Murray Dance instructor
Jim Kennedy meets Anne Lewis
bring the light of Christ into the lives of people everywhere. Men and women on every continent and in every and signs her up for six months
of dance instructions.
nation have heard and answered the call of the Gospel because of his faithfulness to the vision God gave
him to reach the world for Christ. 1953
Sleeping late on a Sunday
morning, Jim Kennedy hears
the Gospel for the very first
He leaves behind a trail of light that will shine for all eternity. The beloved long-time senior time from a radio preacher.
minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Dr. Kennedy entered into the presence of God Shortly thereafter he professes
in Heaven on September 5, 2007 at age 76. He is survived by Anne, his beloved wife of faith in Christ.
51 years, and his daughter, Jennifer.
December 3, 1955
After fighting God’s call to
full-time ministry for nearly
a year, Jim Kennedy, with great
trepidation, quits his job as
a dance studio manager.
December 3, 1955
Jim Kennedy and Anne Lewis
December 4, 1955
Jim is given the chance to
preach at a local Presbyterian
church and, to his surprise,
is employed as the interim
minister the same day.
A MORAL LEADER August 25, 1956
Jim and Anne are married at
the First Presbyterian Church
of Lakeland, Florida.
Jim Kennedy begins
Dr. Kennedy is known across the world for his commitment to evangelism and to taking both the salt and light of seminary training at Columbia
Theological Seminary in
the Gospel into every area of life. He was a moral leader and a widely quoted champion for righteousness in American Decatur, Georgia.
life. He frequently addressed issues such as the sanctity of human life and marriage from a biblical perspective. May 11, 1959
Days before his seminary
graduation, Jim receives a
He was a pioneer in the use of television and radio to bring the light of Christ into the lives of his letter from the Home Missions
listeners. He founded Fort Lauderdale Christian radio station WAFG and his weekly television program, Committee of the Everglades
The Coral Ridge Hour, and his daily radio broadcast, Truths That Transform, are followed by millions of Presbytery inviting him to consider
people in America and around the world. The National Religious Broadcasters honored his broadcast pastoring a new church to be
achievements in 2005 by inducting him into its Hall of Fame. started in Fort Lauderdale.
June 21, 1959
His desire to equip others to understand and apply the Scriptures to all of life led him to found
The first Coral Ridge
two leading educational institutions: Westminster Academy, a nationally respected Pre-K to 12th grade
Presbyterian Church worship
Christian school; and Knox Theological Seminary, a graduate school training Christians for lifelong
service is held at McNab
ministry as pastors, teachers and missionaries.
Elementary School, led by
D. James Kennedy.
July 21, 1959
Rev. D. James Kennedy
Rev. Kennedy tells his
“You know what? I believe
we can change the world!”
EVANGELISM: THE MAIN THING July 31, 1960
Rev. D. James Kennedy is
installed as minister of Coral
Ridge Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Kennedy begins to
But it was evangelism—offering the free gift of forgiveness and eternal life through Christ—that was, for him, the “main train church members
to share Christ, using the
thing.” As he put it in a sermon, “The main thing that every church and every single individual Christian should be sure techniques learned from
Rev. Kennedy Smartt.
to keep as the main thing is spelled out for us and summarized by Christ in what is known as the Great Commission.”
March 16, 1962
Jennifer is born and adopted
A self-professed former president of the “International Association of Cowards,” Dr. Kennedy learned to into the Kennedy family.
effectively share his faith in 1962 when serving as a visiting evangelist at an Atlanta-area church pastored
by Rev. Kennedy Smartt. Equipped to share Christ, Dr. Kennedy returned to Fort Lauderdale and soon March 18, 1962
began training members of his church in personal evangelism. Out of that came Evangelism Explosion A new church building
International, which today trains people in every nation and territory to share their faith in Jesus Christ. on Commercial Boulevard,
seating 500, is dedicated.
February 20, 1967
The first Evangelism
Explosion clinic is
held with 36 people in
Tragedy strikes when Anne
undergoes cancer surgery.
A WAY OF LIFE Dr. Kennedy later describes
Dr. Kennedy did not just share the Gospel on Sundays from behind God’s provision during that
a pulpit. For some 45 years, he went out into the community and took dark time in his message,
every opportunity he had to share the Gospel one-on-one with others. “Songs in the Night.”
It was a way of life. The founder of the world’s most-used evangelism
training outreach used nearly every social encounter—whether with 1970
taxi-drivers, hotel staff, auto salesmen, or airplane seatmates—as an Evangelism Explosion, the first
occasion to share Christ. of more than 65 books by Dr.
Kennedy, is published by Tyndale.
“There is nothing I have ever done,” he once said, “that has given me More than 1.5 million copies
such satisfaction as sharing the Gospel—unless, perhaps, it is the equal have been sold.
joy of seeing a person I have trained come to the place where they,
too, are rejoicing in having lighted the lamp of another.” 1970
Like A Mighty Army, a dramatic
On one occasion he was flying back from Philadelphia, carrying a motion picture depicting the
briefcase stuffed with books and notes. Sermon preparation weighed story of Evangelism Explosion,
heavily on his mind, but he made himself available. “Lord, you know is produced by Gospel Films.
I have a lot of studying to do to prepare for Sunday’s sermon,” he I think that in the annals of the history of the Church
prayed, “but if you have someone you want me to share the Gospel August 28, 1970
with, I’m available.” God took him up on his offer. in the twentieth century in North America and the Lay Evangelism, Inc.,
later changed to Evangelism
world, because of his ministry and especially Explosion III International,
Inc., is organized.
His seatmate was a cable network news anchor, and friendly chatter because of Evangelism Explosion, which has gone
soon grew into a long discussion during which he had the opportunity
April 11, 1971 (Easter Sunday)
to share the claims of Christ in great detail. into every country of the world, Jim Kennedy is
Groundbreaking for new church
going to be noted as one of the key leaders in the on Federal Highway.
Later, on the flight’s final leg, Dr. Kennedy sat next to a young mother-
to-be. Once again, casual conversation soon turned to matters of faith,
Christian Church during that period of time. August 1971
and he asked her whether she knew she was going to Heaven. Classes begin at Westminster
Academy with 300 students
DR. KEN WACKES, Headmaster at Westminster Academy, 1973-2005 enrolled.
February 3, 1974
The new church building on
Federal Highway is dedicated.
While uncertain of her eternal destiny, she expressed the hope that Dr. Billy Graham addresses the
God would let her into Heaven because she had led a good life. 11,000 people in attendance,
some on benches outside the
“It was my joy to tell her that Heaven is a free gift available through church, and 597 decisions for
simple faith in Jesus Christ,” Dr. Kennedy said. “She readily accepted Christ are recorded.
the offer of eternal life and prayed a prayer of repentance and
faith. With tears in her eyes, she told me this was the happiest day October 1, 1974
of her life, a day she would remember when elderly, as the pivotal Radio station WAFG (90.3 FM)
moment in her life.” is licensed as a non-commercial
As Dr. Kennedy put it, “When I arrived in Fort Lauderdale, my sermon
was still unprepared, but God had given me the privilege of sharing October 3, 1976
I think God planned from eternity that Jim Kennedy
the Gospel and leading one person to Jesus Christ—because I made Church membership
myself available.” was going to be the founder of Evangelism reaches 5,000 people.
FUTURE PRESIDENTS Explosion. This was something that Jim Kennedy January 8, 1978
Dr. Kennedy brought the Gospel to the powerful, as well. In 1980, Coral Ridge Presbyterian
he and several other evangelical leaders met with Ronald Reagan when was just gifted for and prepared for. Who else Church votes to leave the
he was running for president. “Governor,” Dr. Kennedy asked, “I Presbyterian Church (U.S.)
would have been determined to see to it that and unites with the Presbyterian
would like to ask you a very important spiritual question and that is:
Church in America (P.C.A.).
If something were to happen to you and you were to die and stand Evangelism Explosion was going to be in every
before God, and God Almighty said to you, ‘Why should I let you into
nation of the world and every territory? It’s almost September 17, 1978
my Heaven?’ What would you say?”
First television broadcast of
unbelievable to think that under his leadership worship service.
Reagan was silent for an uncomfortably long time. Finally, after about
30 seconds, he answered in somber tones, “I don’t deserve to go to they were able to press into all those nations February 1979
Heaven. The only thing that I could say would be, ‘For God so loved
Dr. Kennedy receives his Ph.D.
the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth and territories. But that was Jim Kennedy. from New York University,
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’” completing his list of degrees as
REV. KENNEDY SMARTT, long-time friend and mentor to Dr. Kennedy
follows: A.B., M.Div. (cum laude),
M.Th. (summa cum laude),
D.D., D.Sac.Lit., Ph.D., Litt.D.,
D.Sac.Theol., and D.Humane Lit.
November 30, 1980
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
celebrates its 20th anniversary.
Truths That Transform,
Dr. Kennedy’s daily radio
November 24, 1985
Coral Ridge Presbyterian
ALIVE FOREVERMORE Church celebrates its 25th
With Evangelism Explosion in
only 66 nations, Dr. Kennedy
challenges the organization’s
The eternal hope Dr. Kennedy offered others was firmly anchored in the promises of Scripture. He looked ahead, vice presidents to take the
lay-evangelism training program
with settled assurance to this day. In fact, he outlined what to expect at his own funeral in his Christmas Eve to every nation by 1995.
2004 message: March 14, 1989
The Session of Coral Ridge
Presbyterian Church establishes
Now, I know that someday I am going to come to what some people will say is the end of this life. Knox Theological Seminary and
appoints Dr. Kennedy Chancellor.
They will probably put me in a box and roll me right down here in front of the church, and some people
will gather around, and a few people will cry. But I have told them not to do that because I don’t want
May 29, 1990
them to cry. I want them to begin the service with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah Chorus,
George Kennedy, Dr. Kennedy’s
because I am not going to be there, and I am not going to be dead. I will be more alive than I have ever
brother, dies. Dr. Kennedy
been in my life, and I will be looking down upon you poor people who are still in the land of dying
learns after his death that
and have not yet joined me in the land of the living. I will be alive forevermore, in greater health and
George, who had long resisted
vitality and joy than ever, ever, I or anyone has known before.
the Gospel, was led to Christ
on his death bed by a young
March 30-April 1, 1990
Coral Ridge Church marks
its 30th anniversary during a
“Celebrate the Dream”
Knox Theological Seminary
begins classes to train pastors
and laymen in a graduate
school of theology.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN 1992
The Kennedy Commentary,
a daily 90-second radio
commentary, is launched.
May 21, 1994
Dr. Kennedy first discovered how to know he was going to Heaven in 1953. Not a churchgoer, he was sleeping Coral Ridge Presbyterian
Church celebrates Dr. Kennedy’s
late on a Sunday morning when his radio alarm went off, and a preacher’s booming voice invaded his slumber. 35th year in Gospel ministry.
“Suppose you were to die today and stand before God, and He were to ask you, ‘What right do you have to enter September 14, 1995
into My Heaven?’—what would you say?” Dr. Kennedy dedicates the
D. James Kennedy Center for
Christian Statesmanship in
Dr. Kennedy soon discovered that the answer was to trust in Christ alone for eternal life. He did so,
and shortly thereafter was called into the Gospel ministry. February 23, 1996
He began his pastorate at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in 1959 and had, from the earliest days, International becomes the
a global vision for Christ. In 1960, he read the words of Jeremiah 33:3 to the handful of people that first Christian organization
comprised his then-fledgling congregation, “Call unto me and I will answer thee, and show thee in history to establish its
great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” He then told his small flock, “You know what? ministry in all 211 nations
I believe we can change the world!” of the world.
March 7, 1999
Coral Ridge Presbyterian
Church celebrates its
That surprised his audience, but today Dr. Kennedy’s broadcast 40th anniversary.
outreach goes out from the 10,000-member Coral Ridge Presbyterian
Church into more than 200 nations via radio or television. Nearly June 10, 2000
five million people made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ in 2006 Daughter Jennifer marries
through Evangelism Explosion. Charles D. “Chip” Cassidy in
Newport Beach, California.
REACHING THE WORLD
Dr. Kennedy’s belief that God will do “great and mighty things” December 2000
through the obedient efforts of His people only grew over time. In Along with Dean Jones
1988, he gave the vice presidents of Evangelism Explosion a daunting Dr. Kennedy cohosts Who
task: “I have asked the vice presidents to set a goal for getting EE Is This Jesus, a one-hour
into every country of the world by 1995.” By 1996, those vice documentary viewed by
presidents had done their job. EE had planted a representative in some 12 million people
every country of the world. nationwide.
If you were to ask me what is Dr. Kennedy’s real
And in 2005, at a festive 75th birthday celebration on his behalf at February 10, 2003
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Dr. Kennedy’s optimistic vision for
legacy. Of course, he’s a pastor. Of course, he’s a Dr. Kennedy's weekly television
what God would yet do still burned strong. In his closing prayer, after program, The Coral Ridge Hour,
winner of men for Christ. But I think of him as one of is named "Television Program
an evening spent in celebration of God’s blessing and provision in
his life and ministry, Dr. Kennedy made it clear that he believes the of the Year" by the National
four or five champions of freedom and liberty
best is yet to be. “We believe,” he prayed to the Lord, “You are yet going
to change the world in a far greater fashion.” in America. I think of Ronald Reagan as one of
February 16, 2004
them—the greatest man I’ve known in my lifetime. Dr. Kennedy's daily radio
Dr. Kennedy’s confidence in the future extended to the state of
program, Truths That Transform,
American culture. He said in 2004, “America is in the throes of a And among the other three or four who stand is named "Best Radio Teaching
cultural shift with enormous implications for the future.” He noted
Program for 2004" by the
the growth in the number of evangelical Christians in America out, head and shoulders above all others, stands
National Religious Broadcasters.
and said, “If that trend continues, and I believe it will, evangelical
Christians will be in the majority sometime in the next decade.” Dr. D. James Kennedy.
February 15, 2005
Dr. Kennedy is inducted
THE LATE DR. JERRY FALWELL, Founder, Liberty University into the National Religious
Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
After Hurricane Wilma
rips off the church roof
and drenches the sanctuary,
Dr. Kennedy encourages
telling them this is “our
December 9, 2005
THE LORD’S DOING Dr. Kennedy is feted at
a surprise 75th birthday
August 25, 2006
Dr. and Mrs. Kennedy
celebrate 50 years of
For Dr. Kennedy, the achievements of his well-lived life did not blind him to the fact that all the glory goes to God. marriage.
Several years ago, he said this about what God has done through him: 2006
Nearly five million people
profess faith in Jesus
Christ through Evangelism
As I look back on this, there is just one thing that comes to my mind: This is the Lord’s doing, and it is
Explosion in 2006, alone.
wonderful in my eyes, because most certainly, I could have done none of this. But God has been at work.
September 5, 2007
When I look at all He has done and read the history of what He has accomplished, I have often thought Dr. Kennedy enters
that if I had been given a list of the things He has brought to pass in the last forty years and read it, and into the presence of
someone had said, “Here is your job description for the next forty years,” I would have said, “You’ve got God in Heaven.
to be kidding. I quit. Nobody can do that.” Well, nobody except Christ. He is the One who has done it.
This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful in our eyes.
I know of few people in America who have grasped so profoundly the origins of our nation, the Christian heritage
of America, and who were any better able to articulate it than Jim Kennedy.
PAT ROBERTSON, Chairman, Christian Broadcasting Network
I think one of the great legacies of D. James Kennedy One particular Sunday evening, Dr. Kennedy made a
is his balance between evangelism and discipleship statement to this little group, probably 15 to 20 people
and the importance of the Cultural Mandate— at the very maximum. He said, “You know, we can
showing us that the Bible applies to all of life. change the world.” You can just imagine what went
through my mind. What is he talking about? But he
JERRY NEWCOMBE, Coral Ridge Hour Senior Producer and had a vision. I believe he even quoted Jeremiah 33:3:
coauthor with Dr. Kennedy of 11 books.
“Call unto me and I will answer thee, and show thee
great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
We decided to visit one Sunday. This was in 1963, and
oh my, it was like coming into the presence of God. It Now, as I look back over the years, how the Lord has
was a feeling that we had never experienced before— fulfilled that promise and all that has all come to pass,
or I hadn’t. And I thought—oh, these people have I’ve seen it come to a reality. And as Dr. Kennedy said,
something I don’t have. I don’t know what it is, but I’d “It is marvelous in our eyes, and it is the Lord’s doing.
like to have it. And lo and behold, a couple weeks later It is not any individual. It is the Lord’s doing, and it is
we had this knock on the door and there was Dr. marvelous in our eyes.”
Kennedy. He came to share the Gospel with us, and my
husband and I accepted the Lord that night.
RUTH ROHM, former secretary to Dr. Kennedy and member
of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church since 1959
MARY ANNE BUNKER, Administrative Assistant to
Dr. Kennedy since 1964
Jim Kennedy has one goal in life, and that is to present the Gospel and win people to
Jesus. That’s his whole focus in life. His dream is to reach the world. And I’m sure, now
that he’s in Heaven, he can count all the souls that are in Heaven because of him all
over the world that he either witnessed to or that indirectly were witnessed to because
of his leadership and the things he encouraged and trained people to do.
RICH DEVOS, Cofounder, Amway Corporation